Low-Flow Toilets and Showers
Over the past few years, Concordia began installing low-flow toilets and showers.
Low-flow toilets use just over a gallon of water per flush—half the amount of water that standard toilets use. Furthermore, low-flow showers emit 2½ gallons of water a minute compared to the standard four gallons per minute and, by reducing water flow, also reduce the amount of energy needed to heat the water.
The Student Environmental Alliance is currently planning a rain garden for the swale under the bridge between Fjelstad Hall and Park Region Hall. The rain garden will serve as an aesthetically pleasing way to curb the negative impacts of water runoff, which often carries harmful substances such as fertilizers. This water then drains into storm drains and eventually winds up in natural water sources, negatively effecting the surrounding ecosystem. The new rain garden will also serve as a learning tool for biology classes.
Currently, the Concordia Water Working Group is researching ways to collect rainwater around campus. As of now, all rainwater is either channeled to storm drains or is absorbed by impermeable surfaces, such as roofs and walls. Instead of letting all this water go to waste, a plan is being formulated to use three “watersheds”, or systems for storm water drainage and storage, around campus. One current watershed is Prexy’s Pond, on the northern side of campus, which provides a habitat for local wildlife in addition to being aesthetically pleasing. The other two are proposed plans which are to be located on the southern end of campus near 12th avenue, and near East Complex. This water would be used for a variety of purposes, including lawn and athletic field irrigation.
By choosing to forego trays in the dining hall in 2009, Concordia saves a large amount of water. Each tray needs ½ gallon of heated water to clean. Each person will personally save almost 500 gallons of water annually. Every semester, Concordia saves approximately 200,000 gallons of water; enough to fill Prexy's Pond! This is in addition to other benefits, including cost savings and a reduction in food waste.
Long Lake property
Concordia recently constructed an eco-friendly classroom/lab on its Long Lake property near Detroit Lakes, Minn. The college also reshaped and protected the shoreline with natural plants. The newly landscaped area will serve as an example to the community of what can be done naturally to prevent erosion, while maintaining a beautiful shoreline.
Under the direction of several biology professors, about 45 species of plants native to this region were planted on the west side of Ivers Science Building. The native garden is primarily used by the biology department as a lab and research space for students. Classes can study the different plant species as well as observe the behaviors of the native bird and insect species that visit the space. Native plantings require no fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides, and little water to remain healthy. More so, they are very cost-effective and add lots of biodiversity to campus.
During the first year of implementation, the native plants required the most work in germinating the seeds, physically planting the seedlings, and weeding once they took root. After the first year, native plants are relatively low-maintenance. Due to their adaptability in unpredictable climates, natural grasses stay green and crowd out weeds even in dry-spells. The biology department hopes others will see the benefits of natural species and ask for plantings near their offices and classrooms.