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Shades of Green: nature inspires push for green projects

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shades of green

Shades of Green,” a column on environmental issues related to the UIC campus and community, appears monthly in UIC News.

Mark Donovan, UIC’s vice chancellor for administrative services, is behind many of the current greening projects on campus.

His connection to the environment starts with his love of the outdoors, especially fishing — an antidote to being inside all day and the pressures of work.

Donovan enjoys the peace and quiet of ice fishing, particularly the snow and ice, because it is so different from his work world. Outside in the cold, he imagines what life was like for people 300 years ago, before our dependence on electricity and modern conveniences.

He recently returned from a fishing trip to Canada with his father and son. In that remote location, he joked, it’s so common to see bears and moose walk by, the locals don’t seem to notice!

If money was no object, Donovan would implement some of the students’ ideas from the recent Campus Master Planning process.

The students’ suggestions would transform the center of UIC’s east side to a bustling 24-hour-a-day hub of activity.

“They said, ‘Green space is great,’ but they wanted a reason to be there besides classes,” he says.

He also would establish natural landscaping that everyone could enjoy, that would also reduce the university’s maintenance costs and water consumption.

Donovan is perhaps most proud of his part in the removal of the granite and concrete elevated walkways on the east side. He was closely involved in planning and selecting the trees that now provide a beautiful canopy over many formerly hard, gray areas. He says he enjoys seeing the young trees he helped plant evolve into a mature greenscape.

Donovan highlighted the renovation of Grant, Lincoln and Douglas Halls, which represent the continued evolution of the campus.

“It’s exciting to work on these forward-thinking projects,” he says.

He’s proud of Lincoln Hall’s recent award of LEED Gold.

“We shot for silver and got gold! There aren’t too many of them around,” he says.

Donovan mentions the not-so-sexy — but important — building metering project, now underway, to provide timely, accurate information on electrical, chilled water and gas consumption. He hopes this project will encourage good behavior and better understanding of our resource use, as well as cooperative behaviors, like sharing of office amenities like coffee pots, refrigerators and copy machines.

Individual behavior changes will make the real difference!

Kate Yoshida is program coordinator in the Office of Sustainability.

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