What Our Water's Worth is a campaign led by the Metropolitan Planning Council and Openlands to raise awareness about the value of water in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana.

Loyola teaches lakeshore stewardship by example

Aaron Durnbaugh, Loyola's Director of Sustainability, sits next to a pipe that will release cleaned water from the campus back to Lake Michigan. / Photo by Emily Cikanek

By Abby Crisostomo

When administrators at Loyola University Chicago set out to plan for the school’s future through a campus-wide master planning process, they identified the university’s environmental impact—both from the people comprising its community and the buildings within its physical footprint—as a critical component of a comprehensive plan. With its main campus set along the shores of Lake Michigan, in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, and a university-wide ethic of ecological and social responsibility, it’s natural that Loyola has undertaken a number of sustainability initiatives to benefit not only its own students and faculty, but also the city and region that has been its home for the last century.

One specific example is Loyola’s plan to reduce, by up to 66 percent, the campus’ stormwater contribution to the City of Chicago’s combined sewer system. To do so, the university is using a combination of green and gray infrastructure best management practices at locations across the campus.  For each site, Loyola worked with developers to design an appropriate sequence of methods to allow stormwater to infiltrate into the ground and filter out pollutants as much as possible. Actions include:

  • reducing developed surfaces by combining campus roads and sidewalks into one 20-foot wide surface;
  • laying down 23,600 sq. ft. of permeable pavers;
  • installing green roofs on all new buildings; and
  • planting rain gardens and bioswales with native plants. 
Read on to learn more about the water-efficient improvements Loyola made to their campus.

Conservation Tips

July 2012

Illinois American Water (lead sponsor)

Upcoming events

Jul 25 Annual Luncheon: The Cities That Work 12:00 PM–2:00 PM
Sep 11 Fall public workshop for the Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor grant program 7:00 PM–9:00 PM
Sep 13 MPC and Openlands Roundtable - Better Bets for Wetter Weather: Regional Approaches for Stormwater Management 12:00 PM–1:30 PM
Sep 24–25 Illinois Water Conference 2012 10:00 AM–4:00 PM

More events »

The WOWW Factor


Area in square feet of green roofs on Loyola’s campus, almost tripled from 2006.


Inches of rain in an hour that Chicago’s storm sewers are designed to accommodate. (That’s a five-year rain event, which means it has a 20 percent chance of happening each year.)


Square miles of land in Illinois that would, by nature, drain back into Lake Michigan. However, only 88 square miles of land actually drains back into the Lake, as a result of engineering that reversed the Chicago River.

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