‘Cone 6 Transition Project’ Greens College Ceramics Department

by Paul Goraczko, Think Green Correspondent

Montgomery County Community College‘s Ceramics Department recently revamped the way its reduction kiln is fired.

The project, entitled the “Cone 6 Transition Project,” is part of an effort to support the College’s commitment to sustainability.

The project was piloted by Dr. Aaron Shatzman, Dean of Social Sciences (who was serving as Interim Dean of Arts & Humanities at the time); Frank Short, Professor/Coordinator of Fine Arts; and Michael Connelly, Assistant Professor of Ceramics.

Previously, students’ ceramics projects were bisque-fired in an electric kiln and then glaze-fired in a natural gas-fired reduction kiln at Cone 10 (2360 degrees).

The transition has lowered the overall kiln firing temperature from Cone 10 to Cone 6 (2192 degrees).

Learn about Cone Temperatures

The 168-degree difference between the two firing temperatures may not sound like a huge difference, but reducing the temperature at which the kiln is fired will have some green friendly effects.

“Although change is hard,” Connelly said,” the ceramics program should focus on the benefits of firing mid-range reduction.”

The change will save time and fuel, reduce the College’s carbon footprint, and lower costs.

Heating a kiln to Cone 10 can take anywhere from 10-12 hours, while Cone 6 takes only 8-10 hours. This translates not only to a 30% fuel savings, but also to savings in staffing, as each firing has to be overseen by a member of the College’s staff.

Reducing the firing temperature also adds longevity to the kiln by reducing the wear and tear. This translates to savings in the long term, because it will decrease the likelihood of having to replace the kiln prematurely.

Connelly admits that “ceramics is not the greenest of art forms,” but the Cone 6 Transition Project is just one way the department is helping the College to go green.

College Earns GVF’s Platinum Sustainability Award for Third Consecutive Year

by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor

GVF Assistant Director Maureen Farrell and Action News Meteorologist David Murphy present Dr. Celeste Schwartz, MCCC vice president for Information Technology and College Services, with a platinum level sustainability award. Photo courtesy of GVF

GVF Assistant Director Maureen Farrell and Action News Meteorologist David Murphy present Dr. Celeste Schwartz, MCCC vice president for Information Technology and College Services, with a platinum level sustainability award. Photo courtesy of GVF

For the third consecutive year, Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) earned a platinum-level sustainability award from the Greater Valley Forge Management Association (GVF) on Sept. 9 during the organization’s annual Sustainability Breakfast.

MCCC was one of 29 organizations recognized for sustainability efforts in 2013. According to GVF, applicants represented more than 60,000 employees and close to 300 different workplace sustainability programs.

MCCC partners with GVF to operate a campus shuttle service between its Blue Bell and Pottstown campuses. Introduced in 2010 and expanded from a 14- to 20-passenger vehicle in 2012, 10,432 riders utilized the service in 2012-13, a 23 percent increase over the previous year. With an average daily ridership of 72 passengers, the shuttle helped to eliminate approximately 54,527 metric tons of carbon emissions and reduce vehicle usage by 522,144 miles over the past year.

In addition to the shuttle program, MCCC also employs Zimride, an industry leading rideshare service that provides a safe and easy way for students and staff to arrange carpooling through college community network that fully integrates with Facebook. Since launching Zimride in 2011, MCCC’s network has logged 1,197,760 carpool miles.

At the College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, drivers of electric, hybrid, and conventional vehicles that average 25 MPG or greater, as well as carpoolers and shuttle riders, have the opportunity to park in  the Green Lot — a designated, convenient 185-space parking lot adjacent to the Advanced Technology Center. Electric vehicle charging stations are available in the Green Lot, as well as in the South Hall parking lot at the West Campus in Pottstown.

Other transportation initiatives include a Segway program for public safety officers in Pottstown, electric and hybrid vehicles for public safety and facilities staff in Blue Bell, and an increased effort to promote bicycle accessibility at all MCCC locations.

Since signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, Montgomery County Community College has put into place policies and procedures that reduce its carbon footprint. To learn more about the College’s sustainability initiative, visit mc3green.wordpress.com.

Bike Challenge Part of International ‘Car Free Day’

To celebrate International “Car Free Day” on Sept. 22, Communities in Motion, a GVFTMA Foundation, will award a $100 Wegman’s gift card to a participant of its Bicycle Challenge. To qualify, participants must log a transport trip between Friday, Sept. 20 and Monday, Sept. 23, then post a comment on the message board describing the nature of the trip and why you chose to go car free. To qualify, log your trip and post your comment by Sept. 30; a winner will be selected by Oct. 1.

For this contest, the distance of the trip does’t matter; it is the nature of the trip that counts.  The trip should replace the use of your car, whether it be a jaunt to the grocery store, commute to work, or dinner with friends, make the trip by bike and you may be our lucky winner.  Good luck, and keep on riding!

GVF is also holding a video contest on why you bike to work. To participate, shoot a video on your smartphone and post it on GVF’s Facebook page.

The National Bicycle Challenge runs from May 1 to Sept. 30. To date, 389 rides and 36 teams have traveled 245,957 miles locally, and 34,289 rides, 2,139 teams and 16,630,069 miles traveled nationally.

Campus Bookstores Offer Up Green Products

by Julia Motis, Communications Intern

recyclednotebooksIn response to the demand for greener products, Montgomery County Community College Campus Bookstores, operated by Barnes & Noble, now offer a large selection of environmentally-friendly school supplies and spirit wear.

recycledpensMany of the products come from a company called Better Office Products, whose Waterfall Product line features reusable plastic envelopes, binders, pencil cases and more.

bottlesweatshirtThe store also carries Champion clothing products, some of which are made out of a material called Eco® Fleece.  This fabric is a type of polyester made from 100% certified plastic disposable water bottles, and it can be combined with other materials such as cotton to make an even better fabric.  One 20-ounce bottle can make an entire sweatshirt! According to Champion, its Eco® Fleece products keep bottlepensbillions of these bottles out of landfills every year.

The College’s Campus Stores also carry various  other products made from plastic bottles, such as ballpoint pens and mechanical pencils.

Local Fare on the Menu in College Cafeteria

by Julia Motis, Communications Intern

Many wouldn’t expect a school cafeteria to serve local food, but Montgomery County Community College and CulinArt are working to break that expectation. Dave Green, Chef and Food Service Manager with CulinArt at the College’s Central Campus, has been using local food in his dishes for quite some time.

Much of the fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses sold every day at breakfast and lunch are from small, family-owned farms within 100 miles of the campus. Many of the farms are part of larger organizations that promote organic and green practices in their farming, including the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative and Common Market Philadelphia. Green says he has a close relationship with these farms, which has enabled him to bring speakers from these organizations to campus in order to help students understand the importance of eating healthy.

“I’ve always loved local food,” Green said. “I used to go to local farms and pick some produce myself.  I even learned to butcher at one of them.”

Green shares his enthusiasm for local food with the College community by providing a weekly farmers market every Thursday during the summer  in the Central Campus Cafeteria. Although fresh local produce can be a little pricey, Green says that it is part of a “fair food” arrangement that enables small farms to make a profit and be sustainable. And, he says the price is worth it for a high quality product.

“The foods that are delivered are all picked the day before.  They are super fresh, “he emphasizes.

Fresh selections are limited by season, which means  Green does buy some non-local foods to fill the need in the cafeteria.  However, the cafeteria’s farmers markets only sell the best — and that means quality local and organic products.

Chef and Cafeteria Manager Dave Green hosted a Farmers Market on Earth Day. Photo by Matt Carlin

Chef and Cafeteria Manager Dave Green hosted a Farmers Market on Earth Day. Photo by Matt Carlin

‘Eco-Gowns’ a Staple of Commencement Sustainability

Grads prepare for Commencement in 2012. Photo by John Welsh

Graduates gather in College Hall prior to the College’s Commencement ceremony in 2012. Photo by John Welsh

For the fourth consecutive year, graduates will wear regalia made from 100 percent recycled material when they receive their degrees and certificates during Montgomery County Community College’s Commencement ceremony on May 23.

The Renew Graduation gowns are made from REPREVE® Recycled Fiber, which comes from post consumer plastic bottles. According to Unifi, the fabric’s manufacturer, each gown uses 29 plastic bottles, and an estimated 12.7 million plastic bottles have been used to manufacture graduation gowns since 2012.

Following its Commencement ceremony, the College will collect gowns from those students who do not wish to keep them.

Collected gowns will be cleaned and donated to Pathways PA, which works with more than 6,000 women, children and families in the Greater Philadelphia region to prevent child abuse and move families to self-sufficiency. The organization will use the gowns during its GED graduation ceremonies.

Collected gowns from 2010, 2011 and 2012 were used to replenish robes used during the College’s GED graduation and Phi Theta Kappa induction ceremonies.

Check out the College’s Commencement coverage on our Think Success blog!

RecycleMania: The Results Are In!

by Alana J. Mauger, Think Green Editor

RM_logo_2013Montgomery County Community College  finished the national 2013 RecycleMania competition with some promising numbers!

The College placed 2nd among all higher education institutions in Pennsylvania in the competition’s Waste Minimization category, collecting 15.292 lbs. of combined trash and recycling per capita. Nationally, this ranked MCCC 17th in Waste Minimization among public two-year colleges and 25th overall.

In the Per Capita Classic category, the College finished 12th among public two-year institutions nationally, with 4.252 lbs. of recycling per capita, positioning it as 20th in PA and 303rd overall.

In the Grand Champion category, MCCC scored a 27.803% cumulative recycling rate, positioning it 9th in PA, 17th among public two-year institutions, and 143rd overall.

Overall, the College collected a cumulative 34,132 lbs. of recycling over the eight-week competition, ranking it 14th among public two-year institutions nationally, 18th in PA, and 271st overall in the Gorilla Prize category

RecycleMania is an eight-week nationwide competition, held Feb. 3 through March 30, during which colleges and universities competed to see who could reduce, reuse and recycle the most campus waste. Montgomery County Community College has participated for six consecutive years.

According to the U.S. EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM), MCCC’s recycling efforts during the competition resulted in a greenhouse gas reduction of 48 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E), which is translates to the energy consumption of four households or the emissions of nine cars.

To learn more about RecycleMania or to view the full list of results, visit recyclemaniacs.org.

College Earns ‘Bike Friendly University’ Honorable Mention Designation

by Robert Gardner, Think Green Correspondent

Montgomery County Community College has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists with a Bike Friendly University (BFU)  Honorable Mention designation.

In February, the College submitted its first-ever application for recognition by the national organization’s Bicycle Friendly America (BFA) program.  The application was based on a report developed by the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association (GVF), the organization that operates the College’s award-winning Campus Shuttle.

Read the final report

The application highlighted the College’s major achievements for bicycling over the prior two years, including the hosting of the LIVESTRONG Challenge Philly (for the past seven years, in fact).  The annual fundraising event attracts thousands of cyclists and runners to the Blue Bell campus each year.  Also, the College will host rideAtaxia in Blue Bell on Sunday, October 13, 2013.

In addition to these important events, the college earned recognition for its friendly treatment of bicycles and their riders.  The majority of College’s bike friendly initiatives have taken place at West Campus in Pottstown, where cyclists can find five bike racks that accommodate 24 cycles.  Students, faculty, and staff are offered no-cost use of bicycles through the Bike Pottstown Free Bike Share program, and they can access 12 “cruiser” style, single-speed bikes at the Schuylkill River Academic and Heritage Center.

Efforts to encourage bicycling—from lower on-campus speed limits to permitting bikes within its buildings—fall within the parameters of the Climate Council’s Action Plan and, thus, reduce the institution’s carbon footprint.

In a email dated April 16, 2013, BFA’s Communication Director Carolyn Szczepanski thanked the College for its inaugural application and delivered the news of an honorable mention.  She also stated that feedback would be offered to assist the College with its next application.

While improvements will be necessary in order to achieve Bike Friendly University status, Montgomery County Community College is proud to be considered among the national leaders in promoting the safe use of bicycles as a healthy, alternative mode of transportation.

VIDEO: ‘Going Green One Plastic Bottle at a Time’

Kudos to students Paige Murray, Tom Mergen & Dave Tatasciore for winning Montgomery County Community College’s Earth Day Student Sustainability Video Contest. The crew received a $250 CulinArt gift card for use in the College’s cafeterias.

Check out their video “Going Green One Plastic Bottle at a Time.”

‘Think Green’ Earns Honors from CASE

photoMontgomery County Community College’s Think Green blog recently earned a bronze Accolade Award from the Mid-Atlantic district of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

“Think Green” competed with college and university blogs from across the Mid-Atlantic region, including Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and West Virginia.

In their evaluation, CASE Accolade Award judges reported “Think Green” to be “valuable and timely with interesting content and focus.”

Thanks for reading and for helping Montgomery County Community College advance its sustainability goals!