Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg Campus is Awarded Level I Arboretum Accreditation

Photo by Mary Rasic

As the leaves change to picturesque colors and the crisp breeze carries them away, I cannot help but reflect upon what an enthusing summer it was this year. While working as an Environmental Sustainability Student Associate at Roosevelt, I was given a seemingly simple task: Apply for, and attain arboretum accreditation through the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.
Some of you may have already heard, but Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg Campu s was accredited as a Level I Arboretum in September of this year. You can visit ArbNet to view a list of Level I-III Accreditation requirements. I’m sure you’re wondering what Roosevelt did to achieve this recognition and why it is important. The thing is, being an arboretum is not just a simple achievement – it is an accumulation of successes met with long-term commitment and community involvement.
One of Roosevelt’s main goals is to create an atmosphere where everyone can come enjoy the sustainable landscape and learn how they can employ sustainable practices at their homes. The growing biodiversity being cultivated at the Schaumburg campus provides a display of how to strategically choose and place the right species.
Roosevelt University’s complete landscape inventory is based upon field-based assessments, as a means to measure the physical structure and condition of each tree. This information is used for landscape management by connecting forest functions and values with management costs, risks, and needs. At present, the Schaumburg campus has 33 documented trees species. We are in the process of # tagging and recording a detailed description of ~516 woody plants to assess the condition and maintenance needs of each.
Many people have contributed to the preservation and evolution of the Schaumburg campus’s living library of trees and plants. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to present their sustainable deeds to the Morton Arboretum so that Roosevelt University can be recognized for its outstanding achievements to reduce climate impact as a (sub) urban community.

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Roosevelt University Kicks-off Strategic Sustainability Plan Effort with Students, Staff and Faculty


Michael Bryson, Director of Sustainability Studies and Associate Professor of Humanities presents Sustainability framework to students, faculty and staff.

On September 26, Roosevelt University began an inclusive effort to craft its very first 5-year Strategic Sustainability Plan. At this event, faculty, staff and students provided clear guidance for the plan: 1) expand Sustainability education across the curriculum; 2) focus University Campus investments in energy savings, reduced carbon footprint and better use of waste; and 3) invest in an independent Office of Sustainability to oversee projects.

This event was the first of three half-day sessions guiding sustainable actions sponsored by the University. The second two sessions, culminating in November with a written plan, criteria for project selection and assessment as well as organizational structure, is on a fast-track to completion. The University will conduct measurement through AASHE’s STARS 2.0 and reassess the plan on an annual basis.


Paul J. Matthews, Assistant Vice President, Campus Planning and Operations at Roosevelt leads collaborative break-out session on Energy and Climate Change.

Robust changes which have already impacted the University’s carbon footprint and curriculum as it embraced sustainability as a core part of Roosevelt’s identity include: over 30 students have graduated from the Sustainable Studies undergraduate program in four years; two green buildings were built in Chicago; a native prairie was restored, and a community garden established in Schaumburg.

Underlying the obvious are on-going contributions to social equity made by Roosevelt students and faculty in the community, an extension of RU’s strategic goals. These advancements have been funded by the University’s operations budget, grants, and rebates, and made possible by the collaborative hard work of the university’s administration, staff, faculty, and a handful of high-impact student interns.


Mary Beth Radeck, Sustainability Studies Major at Roosevelt facilitates the kick-off session.

Today, opportunities for funding and savings abound, and participation in programs like Retrofit Chicago are an imperative. With renewed focus and sustainability-minded planning, the University stands to realize more energy and resource efficiencies as well as further lower its greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Middleton, President at Roosevelt University remarked, “After five years of substantial change, I’m pleased to see that together students and staff will provide continued impetus for sustainable action at RU.”

For more information on Roosevelt University’s Strategic Sustainability Plan and how you might participate, please contact Thomas Shelton,


Thomas Shelton, Sustainability Coordinator at Roosevelt leads the discussion on Governance and Policy.

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Wabash Rooftop Garden- Benefits Within and Beyond

Marigolds and more, on the Wabash Rooftop Garden.

Marigolds and more, on the Wabash Rooftop Garden.

The rooftop garden has ultimately served many roles, and with several goals in mind. While growing organic, luscious vegetables and herbs for the Wabash dining center to use has been a priority, there are some not-readily-visible benefits of this garden that tie in with sustainability for Roosevelt and beyond.

Food Security- Generally speaking, rooftop gardens can provide food security in urban environments, and while our grown produce goes to the dining center, the garden out in Schaumburg tends to donate a portion of the grown produce to local food pantries at the end of the growing season.
Urban Sustainability- The rooftop garden also really exemplifies the sustainable idea of a productive garden in an urban environment. Chicago has several examples of sustainable gardens such as, but certainly not limited to: The Plant (, Chicago Urban Lights Farm (, Eden Place (, Growing Power (, and many, many more.
Biodiversity, Rainwater, and Heat- Our campus rooftop garden also supports biodiversity (many different insects have been seen mingling with the plant life); absorbs rainwater, which reduces rooftop rainwater runoff; and with the input of Wabash green roof space on floors 6, 16, 31, and 32, the fifth floor garden also helps reduce the heat island effect, which is very common in Chicago.
Irrigation- a huge takeaway that we got this summer is in knowing what can grow without irrigation in the garden. Irrigation can be summed up by simply stating “the artificial application of water to land or soil for plant growth, re-vegetation, and more”. This is a system that uses piped water (unless the use of rain barrels is used). While drip irrigation is extremely beneficial in that it does not waste water (i.e. the water does not evaporate) it is still an artificial process. This past summer, however, the rooftop garden hardly had to be watered at all, as it just guzzled up rain water!

To reemphasize, this year has helped us to see what plants can grow in this particular garden setting, and those which cannot due to soil, light, and water requirements that not present on the rooftop. While approximately 33 pounds of produce were harvested June through September, we plan to up production next Spring using the knowledge we have from this past year! Due to the focus on next Spring, we currently do not have any plans for cool weather production, although this is something we look forward to doing in the future.

If you are at all interested in getting involved with the garden next Spring, please feel free to contact me, Rebecca Quesnell, at or stop by the Physical Resources Department in Wabash B16.

To check out any previous posts on the Wabash rooftop garden, check out the following links:

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Production on the Wabash Rooftop Garden


As Spring has turned into Summer, and Summer into Fall, vegetable production for the Roosevelt University Wabash rooftop garden is nearing the end for this growing season. This Spring marked the second year of growing on the rooftop garden, and through trial and error, much has been learned as to what can and cannot be grown up on the fifth floor of Wabash, where the sun glares down, and where winds can get particularly vicious on windy days.

This past year has been an ambitious one, and to try and learn what could take root and grow, and what would fail to do so, we planted a variety of vegetables and herbs such as: Sage, thyme, oregano, basil, broccoli, kale, spinach, lettuce, marigolds, nasturtium, broccoli sprouts, carrots, peas, squash, okra, cucumbers, onions, watermelon, and green beans. Out of those, the basil was originally unsuccessful and had to be replanted, and the squash, onions, and watermelon fell short of growth. Others such as the carrots, peas, and green beans grew well, but produced more greenery than anything, and were not an efficient use of the space due to that fact. All in all though, through the efforts of several individuals, the garden produced about 33 pounds of produce in its second year running! Additionally, we have learned a great deal and will put that knowledge into efforts for the garden next Spring.

In addition to planting a variety of vegetables, we attempted to grow on trellises. While the wind was aggressive, the trellises were appropriately anchored down and worked rather well. However, such factors as the soil depth, water inconsistency, and the angle in which the sun hit or did not hit the garden may have played a role in why the trellised peas and green beans produced more greenery than anything.

There are several benefits of rooftop gardens as well, so be sure to check out an upcoming blog post which will include the benefits of these gardens, including the one located on the 5th floor of Wabash.

To check out any previous posts on the Wabash rooftop garden, check out the following links:

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Broccoli, sage, chive blossoms and thyme


Mary Beth Radeck and Kevin Markowski harvest 2.6 lbs of greens from the rooftop.

Rooftops aren’t just for runoff anymore. But even more than a green roof, the Wabash building has a garden that’s produced more than 22 lbs of vegetables the first month this year. Herbs and veggies grown here are also served here at the Dining Center.

Visible from the 5th floor Fitness Center, thyme, sage, chive and oregano herbs are growing in abundance. Greens such as broccoli sprouts, arugula, and baby spinach and beans and peas have already been harvested. Other veggies which have been seeded but are not yet ready to pick: lettuce, kale, endive, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, green onions, cucumbers, okra, squash, cucumbers and watermelon.

Fresh produce from the garden is tastier and more healthful than those shipped from across the country. Look for recipes including these fresh-from-the-rooftop veggies at the Dining Center soon!

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Roosevelt University’s RUrbanPioneers Community Garden Drip Irrigation is here!

The Sustainability team at Roosevelt’s Schaumburg campus teamed up in late June to install the first-ever drip irrigation in the community garden.


Mary Rasic, Kevin Markowski (shown) and Pedro Perez will no longer be filling barrels twice a week.

Previously, water barrels were filled and irrigation consisted of hand-carried buckets, a time intensive practice.

Two years in the making, Sustainability interns Mary Beth Radeck, Kevin Markowski and Mary Rasic partnered with Pedro Perez, Chief Engineer at Schaumburg to plan and execute this improvement. The team expects to save up to 50% of the water used to irrigate the garden this year—reducing the effort and costs of irrigation, but also improving the environment, too.


First, trenches were dug for irrigation lines.

Drip irrigation delivers water slowly, at low pressure near the plant’s roots so that none is wasted and less water evaporates. Usually used with flower beds and gardens or hard to water areas, drip is more efficient and effective than spray irrigation, and much more precise by allowing maximum control over how much water is given to each individual plant. Control of the water reduces runoff and erosion, as well.


Irrigation spigots provide water to each garden plot. Gardeners install micro-tubing which delivers water to each plant.

A drip system is easy to install and even available at local home improvement centers such as Home Depot. Every garden should have one, especially as water costs rise and the risks to Lake Michigan water levels continue.

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How 1 RU Student Saved 551 Metric Tons of Lake Michigan Water with One Simple Act


Upon moving into the Wabash Building this summer I noticed many changes. I quickly learned that moving from the University Center to the Wabash building required an open mind, and a willingness to adjust to a greener lifestyle. Life at the UC was quite comfortable; after all I had lived there for three years.

High powered showers, bright lights, and smooth floors were everyday luxuries that I found quite enjoyable. If I had to choose my favorite UC feature, it would have been the powerful shower head that nearly knocked me down every time I turned it on and all of my shampoo and conditioner quickly rinsed out my hair without hesitation. I must admit that the low pressure shower head in the Wabash Building kind of turned me off my first couple weeks living here. Sadly, I was ignorant to the massive amount of water I was using at the UC, and never thought about how much water I could be saving.

After educating myself by comparing the water features of the University Center to my current living space in the Wabash Building, I was shocked to find this difference. The LEED Gold Wabash building saves more than 20% potable water than Chicago code through the use of aerators, low-flow pumping and plumbing fixtures. What simpler way to save water than by changing the pressure of a shower head? You never know how much water you could be saving.

While living at the University Center I wasted at least 140,529 gallon of water per year, which is equivalent to 20,250 two liter size bottles of soda. Since moving to the Wabash Building two months ago I have already saved 145,783 gallons of water.

My entire outlook on my shower is now changed. I now understand the green initiative of the Wabash building and feel proud of myself for being a part of this initiative. So far this summer I have learned to not only have an open mind about my current living space, but also research the features of it.

Submitted by Taylin Humphrey, Roosevelt Student and budding Sustainability blogger


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