Return to Case Study Briefs

Loyola University Lake Shore Campus

Landscape Performance Benefits


  • Captures and infiltrates 22% of stormwater runoff for a design storm through the use of underground infiltration trenches and storage vaults.
  • Reduces energy use by 63,064 kWh and saves $3,600 annually by switching to LED light fixtures on pedestrian light poles.


  • Increases awareness of green infrastructure with campus landscape tours that serve 400-800 visitors per year, educational signage, and self-guided tour materials.
  • Provides land for a community garden with 196 raised beds used by residents from the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Hosts over 50 outdoor events annually.
  • Produces over 2,500 lbs of produce and $4,000 in revenue on less than 1/3 of an acre through a student-run, on-campus urban gardening program. 20% of the produce raised is donated to local food banks.


  • Saved over $182,000 through reutilization and retrofitting of existing light poles.
  • Influenced decision to enroll for 82.6% of 431 incoming freshmen, who selected the "attractive campus" as the second most popular factor in their decision to enroll at the university.

At a Glance

  • Designer


  • Project Type


  • Former Land Use


  • Location

    1032 W Sheridan Rd
    Chicago, Illinois 60660
    Map it

  • Climate Zone

    Humid continental

  • Size

    35 acres

  • Budget


  • Completion Date

    2007 - Master plan and stormwater master plan; 2009 - 2014 - completion of various projects

Founded in 1870, Chicago’s Jesuit Loyola University relocated to its main 35-acre Lake Shore Campus on Lake Michigan in 1912. Loyola’s sustainability mission drove a 2007 university-wide infrastructure framework plan and campus master plan that has led to a series of improvements meant to improve ecological function, promote sustainability education, and strengthen connections to neighboring communities. The Lake Shore Campus represented a unique opportunity to address critical stormwater concerns for a lakefront location through the installation of a series of on-site stormwater filtration systems. The Lake Shore Campus features 11 LEED Gold-certified buildings, and Loyola’s 3 campuses have the most green roof area of any Midwestern college. Thanks to its strong focus on creating a more environmentally-friendly campus, the university has earned a 4th place distinction in the Sierra Club’s “America’s Greenest Colleges” rankings.


The campus was required to meet the City of Chicago’s stormwater standards for reduced discharge as if it was a Planned Unit Development, which required the capture of the first 0.5 in of runoff and reduction of impervious surfaces by 15%. Since the university is located adjacent to Lake Michigan, the project was exempted from the reduction of impervious surfaces but was still required to capture the first 0.5 in of runoff.


The design team was able to meet or exceed the required runoff reductions through the use of on-site filtration of stormwater, infiltration trenches, and green roofs on new buildings. The infiltration trenches provide storage for the initial 0.5 in of runoff, with the added benefit of allowing water to infiltrate down into the sandy native soils. The on-site filtration of the stormwater allows that water to be discharged to the lake, which helps with flow management as the city does not restrict the flow rate when discharging to the lake. The green roofs aid in capturing the first 0.5 in of precipitation and slowing the discharge of water from the roof, reducing the demand on the stormwater system downstream.

  • 3.5 million gallons of stormwater are filtered on site through a hydrodynamic separator and sand filter to capture 100% of floatables and neutrally buoyant debris as small as 2.4 mm. Stormwater discharges into Lake Michigan, and the pipes were sited to accommodate future increases in lake levels.
  • In the East Quad, over 65,000 gallons of stormwater storage is provided by an underground infiltration area and a gravel base under the permeable pavers. Underground infiltration areas take advantage of fast-draining native sandy soils, draining up to 10.8 in of water per hour in some locations.
  • There are 52,795 sf of green roof plantings across 15 buildings on all 3 of Loyola’s campuses, 11 of which are located on the Lake Shore Campus. All plantings are sedum-based except for the Quinlan Life Sciences Building, which incorporates prairie-style plantings to provide habitat for birds and insects.
  • 24 species of native plants were incorporated into the campus landscape, including swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), basswood (Tilia americana), eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’), and cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea). This represents an increase of 90% from prior to the landscape architect’s involvement.
  • 195,686 sf of impervious surface parking lots and roadways were replaced with 80,000 sf of permeable sidewalks and green space, reducing runoff and creating a pedestrian-friendly campus core. Two perimeter parking decks were constructed to accommodate on-site parking for faculty and staff members.
  • 30,600 sf of synthetic turf was installed at Sean Earl Field to provide a low-maintenance, high-use sports area for soccer, flag football, and other athletic activities.
  • A 3,000-gallon rainwater harvesting cistern on the first floor of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability building captures roof runoff for greenhouse irrigation, aquaponics, and toilet flushing.
  • All exterior street lighting on campus utilizes LED bulbs to reduce energy consumption.
  • A 1,000-sf outdoor amphitheater-style garden seating area in the east quad provides space for teachers and students to hold classes outdoors.
  • Over 30 bicycle racks support student and faculty use of alternative modes of transportation. The university further encourages the use of bicycles by providing discounted prices for a bicycle lock that retails for approximately $70. Students can purchase the lock for $20; faculty and staff can purchase one for $35.
  • The Ecodome is a 3,100-sf greenhouse that is incorporated into the center of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability building and serves as a common space and research laboratory.

The green campus has iconic value for the University.

The green campus initiative was the foundation for a significant campus revival, and it is now being used as an advertising campaign to attract new students, public interest, and revenue from donors. The university is capitalizing on the current wave of support for environmental awareness and energy conservation by reconstructing its reputation around a green, sustainable campus. As the university sustainability web page states, “Sustainability isn’t a buzzword or a fad at Loyola. It’s a way of life. We take sustainability to heart and apply it to everything we do—from the courses we offer to the buildings we construct.” This is most apparent in recent construction throughout the campus. The university has focused on creating LEED-certified buildings as it grows. To date, the campus has added 5 LEED Gold-certified buildings and 4 LEED Silver-certified buildings. 

In order to gauge how this effort is impacting the decision-making of potential incoming students, the university recently conducted a survey of newly-admitted students. Of the 431 student respondents who committed to attending Loyola in fall 2015, 85.3% rated the university’s commitment to sustainability as good or excellent. Placing this survey on a scale of 1 to 5, the mean response was high at 4.69 out of 5.

The university’s sustainability efforts have also captured the attention of the Sierra Club. The prioritization of green campus policies has resulted in Loyola University Chicago’s #4 ranking in the Sierra Club’s “America’s Greenest Colleges.” The university’s efforts to reduce vehicle counts on campus has earned the #9 spot on the list of top schools with the fewest on-campus students with automobiles. Only 5% of students who live on campus have automobiles. Being ranked on lists like these is an important way for the university to gain exposure to potential students who embrace a sustainable lifestyle.

The university is making a serious effort to educate Chicago area residents about their ongoing green initiative. The university has placed numerous advertisements in downtown Chicago, appropriately located on the side of solar-powered garbage compactors, which reinforce the university’s green campus initiative.  

The university, faculty, and students are also using the campus for research and sustainability projects.

The university’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES) has created a course entitled Solutions To Environmental Problems (STEP), which is a response to student requests for opportunities to work with faculty, staff and working professionals to research solutions to environmental and sustainability issues. The courses have focused on topics like biodiesel, food systems, and water. 

The STEP courses have created numerous campus-wide initiatives that have had long-lasting impacts on the university community. The food systems courses developed a student-run Loyola Farmers Market in 2011. Students continue to grow produce on campus and have created an Urban Agriculture Demonstration Garden Project based on the initial crop productions.  Student workers have also created their own student group called the Growers’ Guild. The food systems course participants also identified the many edible plants in the campus landscape and prepared an online guide that identifies the plants and their locations on campus, along with a harvest calendar that is also hosted online.

The water courses introduce the students to the history, economics, politics, and issues involved with water as a resource. Student projects and investigations have focused on aquaponics, sustainable fish farming, water contaminants, irrigation, and rainwater harvesting. The group has also worked on providing input to the university on refining the campus wide water conservation policy. 

The biodiesel class has resulted in a biodiesel production system that converts waste cooking oil into biodiesel. One of the byproducts from the biodiesel production process is glycerin, from which the students began to produce soap. The group is also manufacturing a biodiesel-based Tiki Torch oil. These production projects have turned into successful student-run businesses that feed their profit back into the system to improve their programs and support future ideas.

  • Permeable pavers (with an aggregate base to support vehicular loads) range from $10-$15 per sf, while concrete with ranges from $6-$7 for a vehicular-rated thickness, for an overall cost difference of $320,000-$640,000 for 80,000 sf of pavement. Since these walkways also serve as service drives and emergency access, the sidewalks had to be able to withstand vehicular loads. While the permeable pavers have a higher installation cost, it is offset by the porosity of the surface, which reduces stormwater runoff and the amount of required stormwater storage. 
    • When a client utilizes the same design team (landscape architects, architects, and engineers) for multiple projects, there are significant benefits. The design team is able to learn and understand the client’s needs and desires and consistently meet those requirements based on previous experience with the client. The design team is also able to build a strong working relationship with the client, which can make the client more open to suggestions of alternative solutions like on-site filtration of stormwater or permeable pavements. The relationship between the university and the design team has resulted in the completion of over a dozen different construction projects on the Lake Shore Campus. 
    • Construction costs were controlled through an integrated project delivery (IPD) model where the general contractor was on board for all projects prior to document completion and worked with the landscape architect to identify efficiencies in design that would have a direct impact on cost. For example, constructing components of the overall stormwater management strategy earlier in the construction process achieved significant cost savings in consolidating scope and mobilization. This reduced overall project schedule duration and expedited construction and availability of the job site for additional project implementation.
    • Additional cost savings were possible because the university was in a strong financial situation to implement the construction of major projects during the economic downturn of 2008-2010, which allowed the projects to benefit from aggressive bidding by contractors and material suppliers. This allowed the work to be completed for less than original estimates of construction costs. 

    Underground Water Storage: Storm Trap
    Water Filtration System: Contech Vortech
    Pavers: Unilock
    Pedestrian Lighting: Sternberg 1335 LED Revere Series

    Project Team

    Landscape Architect and Civil Engineer: SmithGroupJJR
    Architect: Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)
    Electrical Engineering: Elara
    General Contractor:  Power Construction

    Role of the Landscape Architect

    This group of landscape architects and civil engineers built a long-term partnership with the university. This project is a great example of how a long-term relationship can benefit the client as it can result in a continuous and consistent vision throughout multiple projects. The campus renovation began with the creation of a framework plan that included a stormwater master plan, which provided an outline for campus improvements. From there, the team worked incrementally to implement the project phase by phase to revitalize the campus using a uniform and holistic approach.


    Stormwater management, Energy use, Recreational & social value, Educational value, Food production, Construction cost savings, Other economic, Educational signage, Food garden, Green roof, Permeable paving, Rainwater harvesting, Social equity, Learning landscapes

    The LPS Case Study Briefs are produced by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), working in conjunction with designers and/or academic research teams to assess performance and document each project. LAF has no involvement in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of the projects. See the Project Team tab for details. If you have questions or comments on the case study itself, contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

    Help build the LPS: Find out how to submit a case study and other ways to contribute.