College Earns National Climate Leadership Award

by Alana J. Mauger

In recognition of its deep commitment to sustainability, Montgomery County Community College  is one of only five institutions in the country 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) on June 23 in Washington, D.C. Institutions were evaluated based on a variety of criteria for climate leadership on campus, including senior leadership, learning experiences and innovative strategies and financing.

Watch the College’s “Think Green” video that was submitted as part of the application process.

Since signing the ACUPCC in 2007, the College has put into place policies and procedures that reduce its carbon footprint. Sustainability efforts are led by a team of faculty, students, administrators, support staff, alumni and community members that comprise the President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Council.  Chaired by College President Dr. Karen Stout, the Council developed the institution’s first-ever Climate Commitment Action Plan, outlining short and long-term strategies to reach carbon neutrality.

The College incorporates sustainability into curricular and co-curricular learning experiences. This fall, the College will introduce a new general education core curriculum that shapes students’ experiences through 13 learning competencies. One competency is civic responsibility, which requires students to analyze society’s environmental impact on the non-human world and future generations to better ensure sustainability. The College also introduced an associate’s degree program in Environmental Science, and continues to add new non-credit courses and certifications in high-demand programs like green building technology and wastewater treatment.

Outside of the classroom, many student-led clubs and organizations perform environmental service as part of their charters. This year, 12 students had the unique opportunity to travel to Michigan during spring break to work on LEED certified construction projects with Habitat for Humanity.

To solidify its position as a sustainability leader, the College continually works to develop new and innovative strategies that utilize green best practices. Examples include using CFL and LED lamps and motion sensors in lighting fixtures, restoring natural grass areas on campus, composting, installing virtual servers in information technology, expanding recycling efforts, using environmentally-friendly products, and purchasing 100 percent of its energy from wind.

Because the College is a commuter institution, transportation emissions comprise a significant part of its carbon footprint. To address this, the College instituted a shuttle that makes the 30-mile trip between its Central and West campuses several times per day. Free to students and equipped with wi-fi, the shuttle reduces commuter traffic by more than 3,500 miles per day at full capacity. The College also invested in hybrid vehicles, electric utility carts and bicycles for its public safety and facilities teams. And, we worked with SEPTA to modify an existing bus route through the Central Campus, saving 20,000 miles of travel annually.

To learn more about Montgomery County Community College’s sustainability efforts, visit mc3green.wordpress.com.

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