The operation of the baler is completely manual offering even more to our sustainability practices.
Dwight Correctional center has been recycling office paper and plastic bottles since 2009. In January 2012, Dwight Correctional Center expanded recycling efforts to include cardboard, plastics, and steel cans from dietary. This expansion can be attributed to the design and creation of a manual cardboard baler and manual can crusher designed by the maintenance department. The baler allows the female offenders to compress the cardboard into manageable sized bales that are loaded onto a pallet; shrink-wrapped; and sent to Illinois Correctional Industries (ICI) at Menard Correctional Center’s recycling center via truck transport that is already at the facility to deliver goods. The baler requires no fossil fuel to run and the trucks are not making special runs to pick up the pallets, which reduces the carbon foot print being left by Dwight Correctional Center. In addition to the baler, the facility has designed and implemented a manual can crusher to facilitate in the tin can recycling.
Additionally, the facility has begun collecting newspapers from offenders and staff that wish to drop their old papers off at the main gate to be used for cleaning windows.
The inside of Dwight Correctional Center's newly constructed greenhouse made from reclaimed corrugated plastic.
Dwight Correctional Center has expanded their gardening efforts in the last year in an attempt to provide fresh produce to offenders and to provide life skills to the offenders assigned to the garden crew. The facility has partnered with the University of Illinois Extension Office to provide lessens once per month to the offenders and staff on a variety of topics, including composting, what is growing in the garden, and maintenance and care of the garden itself. The garden has more than quadrupled in size from last year and continued expansion is consistently being evaluated. Along with garden expansion, the facility is looking to expand educational opportunities to the offenders in “Green” careers and is investigating opportunities to provide certificate classes to the offenders. Small scale vermicomposting is set to begin as a trial run and will be headed by the Leisure Time Specialist in the sustainability classroom. This program will serve to educate the offenders on vermicomposting and allow for offenders to get a feel for the processes involved with this composting project.
Additionally, this project will be able to be converted from small scale to large scale once the opportunity presents itself.
Red Chokeberry shrubs planed in the garden area.
During the week following Earth Day 2012, the facility planted 16 Red Chokeberry bushes near the garden areas to provide shelter for small birds. The concept of providing shelter for these small birds will help to suppress bug populations in the garden areas and provide for an organic crop versus using harmful pesticides to control the bugs.
One of the posters created for Earth Day 2012 featured ethanol production, wind turbines, an electric charging station as well as the use of solar panels.
The facility’s Sustainability Committee held an Earth Day poster contest for each of the offender living units. Many of the units participated and used very creative ways to display their view of sustainable practices. One living unit set up a 3D model of a town that was equipped with electric car charging stations, windmill power generation, and ethanol production. All materials used for the model were either recycled from other uses or could be recycled at completion.
Last year, employees at Dwight Correctional Center began a project called “Planting for the Future”. The facility is fortunate to have a Burr Oak savanna boasting more than 200 trees. The savanna is aging, with many of the tress being just seedlings while Abraham Lincoln was saving the Union. It was determined it was time to act. New native hardwood trees needed to be planted so the next generation of employees could enjoy all the benefits the tree stand provides: shaded walkways, cooler buildings, food and habitat for native bird populations, the calming effect the mature oaks have on the population, and the positive environmental impact.
The project of planting the trees was presented to Warden Thompson and she graciously got on board and the project was off and running. Contact was made with one of Illinois' top tree experts who provided advice on the project implementation plan. It was advised to plant a variety of 3 to 4 foot Illinois native trees. With all the information in hand, the facility rasied money through employees, friends, family, and offender donations to fund the project to purchase 121 trees.
Dwight’s offenders began digging the 100 plus holes in June with the anticipation of planting in August. The women were taught how to plant and care for the trees and the project was completed on time.
Cost Saving Solutions
Budgetary constraints within the department have encouraged Dwight Correctional Center to find creative ways to reduce spending. Savings have been achieved by educating and partnering with staff and offenders to identify ways to reduce energy consumption and waste production.
A steam trap survey was completed at the facility in late 2011. By completing this survey, the facility was able to repair and replace faulty steam traps in four of its buildings. These repairs are expected to save nearly $55,000 per year in energy costs and have already contributed to the reduction of nearly $108,000 in natural gas costs between FY11 and FY12. Additionally, the repairs will reduce the amount of natural gas being consumed by the facility; increasing our effort to reduce our carbon foot print.
The facility has implemented programs related to offender consumption of materials. The laundry program at the
Poster created by Dwight offenders in celebration of Earch Day 2012.
facility aims to monitor laundry facility use and reduce water and electricity consumption by regulating the amount of the laundry that is washed per cycle and at particular times of day. In addition to the offender laundry program, mop heads are no longer dried by staff at the main laundry in the machines, but rather are hung to dry on drying racks at the suggestion of staff. The second program related to offender use of paper bags at commissary. The paper bags were replaced with fabric mesh bags that are issued to each offender upon arrival to the facility.
The recycling programs implemented at the facility have been able to reduce the amount of waste removal service that is needed and has been able to reduce the costs related to the waste removal by eliminating the number of dumpsters and pick-ups per week for an estimated savings of $6000 per year. Staff members also continue to identify opportunities to fund projects to help reduce the facility’s impact on the environment such as LED lighting and wind generation.
Dwight Correctional Center continues to look for ways to reduce expenditures by implementing “green” initiatives to reduce our consumption of utilities and reduce our waste stream thereby reducing the operating costs of the facility and reducing the impact our facility has on the environment, all the while, educating staff and offenders on the importance of their place in the environment.