Sustainable Landscape Design and RU’s Campus Plan

On Thursday, Feb. 17th, landscape architect Bill Bedrossian of Bedrock Earthscapes visited Mike Bryson’s SUST 210 The Sustainable Future class in Schaumburg and gave a special guest lecture on green landscaping practices. Bill is working with a faculty/staff/student green campus committee led by Paul Matthews, Asst. VP for Campus Planning/Operations, to design a new look and sustainable landscape plan for the Schaumburg Campus. This past Thursday, Bill updated us on this ongoing planning process as well as presented his knowledge about sustainable landscape design and maintenance, a topic that connects with a variety of themes in SUST 210 this semester. Also in attendance that night were members of Prof. Greg Buckley‘s seminar in natural science (who among other things are working on a project of identifying all the tree species on the Schaumburg Campus grounds), SUST major Alan Swartz, Paul Matthews, and a few other members of the Schaumburg Campus community.

Excellent discussion ensued about the advantages of various landscape design features for energy and water conservation, as well as about the in-progress ideas for the Schaumburg Campus redesign, which includes extensive native vegetation replacing the bulk of the current turf grass; a restored wetland at the detention pond site; native plant demonstration beds and a potential orchard; bioswales, a rain garden, a cistern, and pervious paving in the parking lots for on-site water retention; a composting site and possible “edible wall” vertical garden; and better outdoor recreational space, including a baseball field. Open areas near McConnor Parkway on the campus periphery will be planted in native grasses in the short-term, but could be re-developed later as a small-scale urban farming operation.  

A pdf version of Mr. Bedrossian’s presentation to SUST 210 is included here: Sustainable Site Practices and RU Concepts. Slides 46-49 address RU’s campus grounds planning process, and slide 48 is the current draft Sustainable Landscape Plan Map. Take a look at that map (zoom in on it to see details) and as you analyze it, ask yourself some questions:

  • Who are the various groups of people that would use and experience this landscape — students, staff, faculty, visitors, etc. — and what are their needs and interests? (Think about, for example, the value of a walking/biking trail that could wind through the campus.)
  • What kinds of learning and leisure activities should the campus landscape support and encourage? How can it connect the university to the surrounding community of Schaumburg?
  • What about the plan at present do you like, and why?
  • Is there anything missing that you’d like to see incorporated into the plan?

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions about the plan, please post them here on this blog post (if you’d prefer to simply email me feedback privately, you may do so at ). I’ll make sure your suggestions find their way to the Schaumburg Campus committee working on this plan. Thanks for your input!

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9 Responses to Sustainable Landscape Design and RU’s Campus Plan

  1. This is a great article, We have been working for the last 10 years on making our little property in mexico sustainable to it’s finest, this year we started replacing old wood, with sustainable hardwoods, and doubled our composting capacity. I would love it if you could take a second to take a look, we are always looking for new ways to make our footprints smaller!
    Here’s what we are doing now Sustainability in Mexico and we are working on getting solar and wind up next year!


    • Michael Bryson says:

      Hey, Patrick, thanks for the response. The stuff you’re doing at Troncones Point sounds very impressive; and though I’ve never surfed, it’s making me wonder if a trip to Mexico shouldn’t be on my future to-do list (this thought is only slightly influenced by my present location in the Chicago region in mid-Feb.). Thanks again for sharing — and how did you come across my faculty blog, perchance? Just curious.


      • Hey Mike-
        Just internet exploring on sustainability programs in the states, my partner and I came across the blog, and were checking out your links, I did send you to the wrong page though, it’s actually under habitat and sustainability, I grew up in Illinois so I feel your pain (near Peoria) The Mexico winter weather is pretty unbeatable. We are going to bookmark this on our facebook, it’s rare I see newer ideas on sustainability, I love the “edible wall”.


  2. Emanuel says:

    Greetings I stumbled upon your site by mistake when i searched Live search for this matter, I have to tell you your site is very valuable I also really like the style, it is great!

  3. Brad Woodbury says:

    It sounds like there some great ideas here! I love the small-scale urban farming operation idea! The edible garden would be interesting? A question I have is would the staff members of Roosevelt University be maintaining the areas that would need maintenance or would volunteers be doing the work? Just wondering.

    • Michael Bryson says:

      Thanks for your response, Brad. The urban farm idea is definitely a plan for the future rather than a short-term to do: the important thing is setting aside the present open space so that when the time comes, that’s an available option. As for maintenance of the landscape overall, RU’s grounds crew would do the builk of the work — but in certain operations such as food production, volunteers and/or students (working on class projects or doing work-study jobs) could also be instrumental. These types of plans will develop over time in a collaborative way among staff, students, and faculty. Good questions!

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