Since 2008, Illinois River Correctional Center (IRCC) has been active in reducing energy costs, waste, and the facility’s impact on the local community. The following is a list of steps the facility has taken to move in the direction of environmental sustainability.
The cardboard baler at Illinois River
IRCC has bailed cardboard and plastic since 2008. The bailer was provided by Midwest Fiber until the facility recovered the cost of the bailer; the bailer is now owned by Illinois Correctional Industries. We are now recycling 1 semi- trailer full per week of both plastic and cardboard. IRCC has recycle barrels located in all areas of the facility. An offender is assigned to pick up the plastic and cardboard two times daily, seven days per week.
Additionally, all light bulbs and ballast are collected and picked up by a State vendor to be recycled, as well as all used motor oil is collected and is picked up by a vendor who will recycle it.
All used grease and cooking oil is picked up by a vendor twice a month with the containers provided by them for transport to recycle the liquids.
Compost bins made from recycled pallets at Illinois River Correctional Center
IRCC has a ¼ acre size garden which will have many different forms of produce. IRCC has two greenhouses which produce the flowers for the Governor’s mansion as well as the IRCC grounds. Currently water is being captured by our water barrels and moved with a water dolly to the garden. We will soon add another 20 rain barrels to the facility for sustainable landscaping use.
The facility has created a compost pile to be used to fertilize the garden. The dietary meal preparation scraps and yard waste will be placed in the compost pile to produce natural fertilizer for the facility's plants and trees.
In 2004, IRCC changed all of the flush valves on facility toilets from 4.5 gallon flush to 3.5 gallon flush, thus saving 1 million gallons of water a year. Several rain barrels were built and placed throughout the facility to help reduce water usage when watering flowers and such.
IRCC has worked to reduce energy cost by doing upgrades to the building’s automation system, thus controlling the heating and cooling system more efficiently and reducing our energy cost. IRCC worked with a local electricity provider to supply the facility, 200 LED exit lights which use 1/3 less electricity. IRCC has fine- tuned the boilers to help reduce natural gas cost.
In the 1930’s a blight virtually wiped out the population of chestnut trees in Illinois. The trees were once an important feature at parks across the State. The durable wood was used for fences and benches in parks that survive to this day. Unfortunately these remnants of chestnut wood are all that remain of chestnut trees in our State parks.
In early 2012 Tom Hintz of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources decided to change that fact. As the Site Superintendent for Jubilee State Park and the Rock Island Trail, he delivered 489 chestnut acorns to Lake Land College’s Horticulture class at the Illinois River Correctional Center. Instructor Vickie Herman researched the american chestnut (castanea dentata) and devised a plan for her students to produce seedlings from Mr. Hintz’s acorns. Ms. Herman’s students had a 70% success rate. On April 12, 2012, Mr. Hintz picked up over 400 seedlings from Lake Land College. The small seedlings were reintroduced to the Jubilee State Park during the 2012 Earth Day celebrations. Grade school students from the Kickapoo area had the honor of planting the first american chestnut trees in an Illinois park after a generation of their absence.
The partnership is planning to produce more tree seedlings in the future to re-introduce chestnut trees throughout Illinois in parks, along highways, and at rest stops.