Montgomery County Community College put its recycling program on the line with and put a distinct green spin on its program.
Those are only two examples of the many initiatives that cumulatively helped the college to earn a 2011 award for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership from Second Nature.
The award was presented at Second Nature’s fifth annual Climate Leadership Summit of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) June 23 in Washington, D.C.
College President Dr. Karen Stout signed the 2007 American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, dedicating MCCC to the good of the environment and getting the ball rolling toward environmental leadership.
Sustainability as an informing principle followed, as everything “kind of evolved organically,” said Celeste Schwartz, vice president of information technology for the college, in an email interview.
The efforts had the backing of the board of trustees, the faculty, the students and their parents back then, and they still do, said Alana Mauger, MCCC director of communications.
Sustainability efforts involve a team of faculty, students, administrators, support staff, alumni and community members that comprise the President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Council, which developed the Climate Commitment Action Plan, outlining short- and long-term strategies to reach carbon neutrality.
In the classroom, MCCC introduced an associate’s degree program in environmental science and continues to add new noncredit courses and certifications in high-demand programs such as green building technology and wastewater treatment, according to a press release.
Many student-led clubs and organizations perform environmental service as part of their charters. This year, 12 students went to Michigan during spring break to work on LEED-certified construction projects with Habitat for Humanity as part of an Alternative Spring Break program.
“The students can use their experiences with green building practices on the worksite in Michigan to help educate the college community about what we’re doing right here on our campuses,” Jenna Meehan, coordinator of civic and community engagement and one of the trip’s facilitators, said in a press release about the Habitat for Humanity project. “It will bring a new level of awareness to the college’s sustainability initiative.”
A faculty-driven lecture series on climate change and environmental activities engages the community in ongoing environmental conversations.
Since 2007, the Climate Commitment and that first RecycleMania competition, the college has broadened its efforts to include the use of energy generated entirely by wind power, the use of bicycles and hybrid vehicles for public safety, the incorporation of green building and design practices into new construction and renovations, and expansion of campus recycling programs, not to mention programming all the college’s copiers to default to two-sided copies (on post-consumer recycled paper), saving ink, money, power and paper.
Additionally, metal-halide lighting fixtures in the gym have been replaced with fluorescent lamps on timers, and the halogen lights (which burned out every three months) were replaced with longer-lasting, cooler burning LED lights, Mauger said.
Because students commute to school rather than stay on campus in dorms, transportation emissions are a large part of the college’s carbon footprint. MCCC instituted a shuttle that makes the 30-mile trip between the college’s Central and West campuses several times a day. The college estimates it reduces traffic by more than 3,500 miles per day at full capacity.
Since 1993, Second Nature, headquartered in Boston, MA, has worked with over 4,000 faculty and administrators at more than 500 colleges and universities to help infuse the principles of sustainability into every aspect of higher education. Its mission is to create a healthy, just and sustainable society by transforming higher education.