Session Recap >> Community Colleges, National Resources and You
This is a rough transcript taken live during the presentation. Learn more about the AASHE 2011 Transcription Project!
Session began with introductions of around the room and then intro by the session organizer:
SEED Program Director
American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)
What we want to do is highlight the good work that colleges are doing in this space. The reason I consider them great is that they are doing this kind of work in a systemic way. It's not about an individual recycling program or a cool sustainability class. They are embedding sustainability through basically everything they do. Operations, community, academic, etc.
Key Topics We'll Cover:
- Infusion across curriculum
- The link to green jobs placement
- Particular challenges faced by two year institutions
Sustainability and Risk Management Coordinator
University Center, MI
16k students; Employ about 900 dedicated faculty and staff
SEED has been a wonderful resource for us. Our president sits on their task force. She's been a great leader in pulling us all together. Look at the SEED website: www.theseedcenter.org
Delta sustainability highlights:
- ACUPCC charter signatory
- STARS silver rating
- 1st Community college recognized nationally for green cleaning (2008)
- 2010 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award winner
Institutional Integration Tools
- Triple Bottom Line - we put everything we plan to do up against the triple bottom line
- President's Climate Commitment - it's been wonderful for us
- STARS - if you are not a member, I would highly recommend it
2007/2008 Task Force created by president led to...
- Green Summit event
- Recommendation to create a Sustainability Office
- Academic Sustainability Team
- In 2009, Board of trustees adopted sustainability as a Guiding Principle.
- Integrated Sustainability into our AQIP accreditation process as Action Plans and a Distinguishing Objective.
- Incorporated into our Institutional Planning Process
Details on AQIP Integration:
- We are using two voluntary reporting structures (ACUPCC and STARS), so they assigned them to AQIP processes as Action Projects and Distinguished Objective. Those projects and objectives are being rolled into our 2013 Accreditation Process.
- Institutional Planning then wraps around the AQIP initiative with sustainability wrapped into our strategic planning, curriculum development, building operations, and community partnerships
Here's an example:
An institutional planning topic one year was using resources efficiently, so we set 3 goals in each area (curriculum development, building operations, and community partnerships). People in each area got to choose their own goal. Buildings and operations staff chose to focus on greening our cleaning. That instigated a review of the products we use and our processes.
- Created three levels of academic sustainability coding in our course catalog: Sustainability Related, Sustainability Focused and a Sustainability Certificate Program (still in the works). Examples of Sustainability-related courses are Accounting/Carbon Counting, Journal of Creative Sustainability.
- Have specialty degree programs:
1. Alternative Energy / Wind Turbine Technology - started with a $200k donation to buy a wind turbine
2. Chemical Processing - have a state-of-the-art processing plant on campus. Green chemistry, designing out hazardous waste are incorporated.
3. Global Peace Studies - social justice, international business, international relations, global environment
- working with a lot of local industries to meet needs of local industry
- fast start training programs in Solar Manufacturing, Chemical Processing and Advanced Battery Manufacturing.
Life Long Learning - offering courses like "Green Team: Establishing a Green Workplace".
STARS - All this ties into benchmarking with STARS.
GreenForce Initiative of World Wildlife Federation - works on preparing graduates for the green economy
- finding quick funding
- there is no one size fits all - moving quickly in industry and tech was easier and different than moving it forward in humanities
Director of Planning
Monroe Communtiy Community College
37k students (18k are credit and rest are non-credit)
As director of planning, I'm not a sustainability staffer, but I have the ability to see into and influence all of the campus. We haven't created an office of sustainability, but we are at the tipping point.
Our economy used to be driven by the big three - Kodak, Bausch + Lomb and Xerox
We are now small and medium manufacturing. The largest employer in our area is the University of Rochester and the Medical Center. As a result, we've been more stable than other areas. We have a suburban campus and an urban campus and two training centers.
First officially addressed sustainability in our 2007-2011 Strategic Plan which was put together in 2006. Only got it into the facilities section, but it was a starting point. We participated in the STARS pilot program with AASHE and signed on to the ACUPCC. Since I'm the institutional planner, they turned to me and said "how are we going to do it?" I composed a team of people for operationalizing sustainability. Came up with 2 year plan with low hanging fruit to get early successes in order to build momentum and get the word out.
We used the champions we had on campus already:
- One faculty member pushed hard to establish a Sustainability Certificate. Launched in 2009. 15 credit embedded certificate. Students must be co-enrolled in another program. Requires science and humanities and service learning. Benefits from integration between the courses - for example, have a topical focus across all the courses. One year the topical focus was the gulf oil spill and each course tried to incorporate it into some element of their semester. This year the topic is alternative energy - because of local hydrofracking and wind farm controversies in the area. Certificate gives our students a background that employers are looking for. It's giving them an edge.
- The faculty member then pushed for an AS Degree in Sustainability. Should roll out next year. Students will be able to transfer to a 4 year school with an Envirionmental Sceince/Studies program (have articulation agreements already in place).
- Did a lot with workforce non-credit courses. First they were stand-alone but have become stackable. We're seeing students that take 1 course getting $5 over minimum wage. (course examples, Building Analyst, Basic Air Sealing, Envelope Professional) Currently developing a certificate in solar thermal technology.
- Using their facilities as learning laboratories. They have a co-generation plant - student tours and courses related to it. They've installed greenhouses and green walls as part of biology courses. Built a LEED Gold field house for athletics.
- Competing priorities
- Funding challenges - decisions we make are very pragmatic. only address things we know are needs in our area.
- Center for Energy Efficiency and Building Science - help with BPI training
- Pathstone - Green for Gold - private non-profit in their area working on training people with significant barriers to employment (convictions, poverty). preparing construction, deconstruction and renewable energy job training
Executive Director of Government Relations and Sustainability
Houston Community College
75k students - currently growing quite a bit, even with budget cuts (-$30 million) Located in the city of Houston. Service area includes 600 square miles. There are 6 campuses each with a President. In Houston, energy is king. We have lots of energy companies. Also have Technical Medical Center that employs 100k people.
HCC is a member of both SEED Center and ACUPCC. Committed to reducing carbon and preparing students for life long learning opportunities.
HCC infuses sustainability in curriculum:
- Solar Energy courses
- Wind energy course
- Thermal Infrared Camera Technology
Jobs training for:
- solar energy installers
- troubleshooting and maintenance
- horticulture - water harvesting, xeriscaping, aquaponics
- solar heating design and planning
- cost benefit analysis (ROI)
- thermal energy technicians
As CC's, we think a lot about big industry like the energy companies, but we don't think a lot about creating things for ourselves. I thought the horticulture and aquaponics was a great example of that.
Leverage existing relationships
partnering with industry - hosted an Energy Symposium with Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil and Executive Citizens for Affordable Energy
partner with local HVAC union
partner with City of Houston on an apprenticeship program
partner with government: US Department of Energy, State Energy Conservation Office
- Budget constraints
- Added / perceived added cost
- Inadequate human resources
- Policy considerations - federal and state legislature helping/hindering
- People - some people are gung-ho, some people are not
- Existing culture - in a large organization can be difficult; but sometimes scale also helps you do things a lot better
Overcoming those challenges:
- Demonstrating cost/benefit value
- Educating others about the benefits
- Identifying champions of the cause
- Working to shape policy considerations
- Getting Board-level buy-in and approval to advance the initiative (this can make funding available in some cases)
- Commissioned a comprehensive energy analysis that positions us to implement conservation measures
- Developed a Climate Action Plan
- Performed an inventory of all GHG
- Implemented LEED Silver or equivalent building policy
- Incorporated system wide recycling
- Provide periodic reports on our sustainability progress
Questions & Answers
Question: Do you have an overarching sustainability plan for the Houston Community College System and then each campus has one underneath that?
Remmele: That's something we need to do. Take our over-all system plan and take that to the Presidents of each college to see if they are tailoring it for their campus - because they are different. The presidents are very well aware of what is going on and we talk about it with them.
Comment from Elizabeth Cole-Fay in the Maricopa Community College District: We've found having a district can be an impediment. We've had some schools pushing our district more than our district driving it forward. We're just now pushing forward district-wide policies. We had colleges in the system that waited until the district forced their hand.
Question: I have faculty-member disdain for administrative processes but I think I need to look more at embedding into the system. I'm looking for more advice about AQIP and the evaluation process. Anything?
Remmele: Do you have any faculty representatives in meetings with administrators?
Valarie: First, build some relationships across the aisles. But, I've been in a position to build them in every area over time. Once you have someone involved, you have to motivate and let them have control. As we produce more and more links to training programs and curriculum, the deans of curriculum and faculty senate chair have joined the sustainability committee.
Audience comment: You have to speak the language of the system. You have to make the business case. Sometimes is using the semantics of business first, not semantics of sustainability.
Audience question: I too am a faculty member at a small liberal arts college. We too have similar needs. So far we've come out with a sustainability studies minor and set up an ecological council. If I want to establish more credibility, what is the marketability value of being recognized by those systems like STARS and AQIP?
Valarie: If you are looking at accreditation, you have to look at your accreditation agency (there are 6 across the nation). We don't have AQIP and can't incorporate it the same as Delta CC. That said, it does bring credibility to belong to some of these organizations. SEED has been a great connection because there was no additional cost.
Linda: I'm not a number-cruncher business case maker, but I can find specific things that we can do and go to the people involved and say "let's do this." Find the ones that respond with passion and enthusiasm and wiggle your way in their. The personal relationships helped me a lot in bridging to the faculty side. Also, go to the accreditation people at your institution and ask them about it. As for STARS, for us, STARS was huge. We did the pilot and now are in 1.0. It is so comprehensive. It gave me a reason to knock on doors all over the institution from HR, diversity, operations and so on. And after I knock on their door and ask them to tell me what they are doing, I now can bring them ways to go further.
Remmele: Return on investment doesn't always mean dollars and cents. It's incumbent on us as educators to educate people about sustainability. There are champions already in your institution that are passionate and willing to volunteer to work with you in your institution - the same way they already go around pulling recycling out of trash cans and taking it to the recycling. Get those people together.
Todd: One thing we are doing under SEED in partnership with Second Nature, we are providing leadership training for Presidents. Presidents talking to other presidents. Will be a session at AACC conference. Encourage you to get your presidents to attend that.
Georges Dyer (Second Nature): We are just launching a new initiative with recently retired presidents. One is from Butte College in CA.
Audience comment: I would like to see more break-out sessions for community colleges at the AASHE conference. This is my third AASHE conference and the sessions aren't long enough and detailed enough about community colleges. The STARS meetings were so much about 4 year institutions.
Audience comment: There should be more community colleges on the AASHE board.
Audience Comment: 90% of sessions are not related to what we deal with. I spent more time this year talking to community college people out in the hall way than in sessions.
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