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Base Realignment & Closure
Higher Education in Maryland

Howard Community College Sustainability Update - FY 2009

Sustainability at HCC logo

Howard Community College was one of the original signers of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) two years ago. Since that time, over six hundred institutions of higher education have signed. In addition to ACUPCC, the college is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The college’s commitment is to minimize global warming emissions and provide the knowledge and education to achieve climate neutrality. This called for several immediate actions while starting on the ten year path to becoming climate neutral.

In order to achieve this aggressive goal, one of the first steps was to appoint a sustainability coordinator and establish a sustainability team. Therefore, the sustainability coordinator was appointed and the Facilities and Sustainability Team (FAST) was created to provide coordination in the advancement of sustainability through programs that are environmentally and socially responsible.

Since its conception, FAST has established numerous sustainability initiatives including advocating public policies that promotes campus sustainability as well as participating in inter-campus collaboration on sustainability. Using AASHE’s ten sustainability categories, the college maintains on-going lists of activities and efforts classified under:

Reduce and Recycle Food and Food Service
Purchase Green Products Campus Grounds and Land Use
Energy Conservation New Construction
Hazardous Materials Campus Planning and Design
Transportation Teaching and Education

This past year FAST focused on three specific goals and established corresponding subcommittees to assist in those efforts. The three areas are: 1) Awareness; 2) Carbon “Dragon” Footprint; and 3) Curriculum.

A few of the accomplishments for this year include:
• completion of the college greenhouse gas emissions inventory;
• development of the climate action plan;
• creation of the college’s new sustainability logo;
• installation of climate control systems;
• installation of energy savings occupancy sensors;
• regulated heating and cooling temperatures;
• use of thermal storage units to reduce electricity;
• installation of PowerSave automated intelligent energy conservation management software for campus computers;
• removal of invasive species and replacement with native species;
• sustainability focused courses and lecture series;
• sustainability focused undergraduate program in Environmental Science (AA);
• campuswide reduction of paper and printing;
• instituted use of green cleaning products;
• vehicle fleet conversion to hybrids and rechargeable electric;
• food services biodegradable paper and plastic;
• participation in the national Recyclemania competition; and
• collaboration with Howard County Environmental Sustainability Board for GreenFest 2009.

Recyclemania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities over a 10-week period. With each week’s reports and rankings, participating schools watch how their results fluctuate against other schools and use this to rally their campus communities to reduce and recycle more. The college competed in the “Benchmark Division” which involves reporting and comparing the amount of regular trash verses the amount of recycling. The main goal in the benchmark division is to reduce the amount of waste by increasing how much is recycled per capita. During the month of February, we recycled approximately 25 percent of our total waste and increased to about 30 percent in March. In addition, there was a per capita increase from 0.4 lbs per person to 0.6 lbs per person of recycled material. Overall the effort was very successful in engaging the students and college community.

In addition to college-based initiatives, we continue to collaborate with Howard County and local organizations to promote sustainability, conservation, and ecological responsibility in the county. The college partnered with the Howard County Office of Environmental Sustainability to present GreenFest 2009 - “Energy and Water Conservation”. Approximately 1,700 citizens joined in this free family event celebrating the kick-off to Earth Month which was held on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at the college in the Burrill Galleria. Over 95 vendors provided citizens with practical information about ways to live more ecologically sound lifestyles in Howard County. Vendor themes included: Alternative Energy, Energy Efficiency, Water Conservation and Reuse, Green Buildings, Green Consumer Products, Green Landscaping, Wildlife Exploration, Children’s Activities, and Local Green Organizations and Authors. This year attendees were invited to dig in and get dirty to help the earth – visitors helped the Master Gardeners install a rain garden outside Burrill Galleria and helped plant trees on campus. There were numerous family activities including making rain barrels, adventures of the Howard County Heron, a bluebird walk, a watershed walk, and a nature walk.

Joining GreenFest this year was the Environmental Sustainability Board hosting their 1st Annual Environmental Summit in the Rouse Company Foundation Student Services Hall. The Summit was free and open to the public, with over 80 people attending. The Summit brought together community leaders speaking on environmental issues within Howard County. The presenters included: 1) Liz Bobo, State of Maryland House of Representatives; 2) Ken Ulman, Howard County County Executive speaking on The Future Greening of Howard County; 3) Ned Tillman, Chair, Howard County Environmental Sustainability Board; 4) Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Department; 5) Joshua Feldmark, Director, Howard County Office of Environmental Sustainability; 6) Jim Caldwell, Director, Howard County Green Business Council; 7) Ken Roey, Executive Director of Facilities, Howard County Public School System; 8) Kathy Zimmerman, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, Howard County Economic Development Authority; and the college’s very own 9) Lynn Coleman, Vice President of Administration and Finance, Howard Community College. The full-day event was such a huge success that the college has been asked to host Greenfest 2010.

Other festivities on campus that celebrated Earth Week included:

• April 15 - Earth Day movie in the Burrill Galleria
• April 21 - Chairman Douglas Nazarian, Public Service Commission, presentation on What Happens When Maryland Runs Out Of Power?
• April 22 - Dumpster Dive in the Quad
• April 23 – full day of activities such as environmental discussions; homemade earth friendly cleaning products; bird-watching tours; digging in the dirt; Scales and Tales presentation on endangered species; and the HCC Environmental Club’s Solar Cook-Off.

Although the college has had significant accomplishments this year, we know that we cannot become complacent and realize that we have just touched the surface of the necessary efforts for sustainability. Transportation continues to be our biggest challenge both in terms of producing carbon and finding places to park. For most of our students, employees and visitors single occupant cars are the only convenient form of transportation. We plan to promote alternatives such as van pools, car pools, ride share and car share. We look forward to working with the county and other organizations on these and other mass transit opportunities.

Other areas of future collaboration might include food waste composting, storm water management, continued native species restoration, and educational course offerings and programs. The college is currently exploring options and partnerships including course offerings from local builders and contractors, energy service companies (ESCO) and energy performance contracts (EPC), energy curtailment programs, and energy audits.

Current and future activities include sustainability across the classroom initiatives and other awareness activities including the summer project for the student-designed classroom posters. As we move toward next fiscal year, the college is developing an implementation plan following the completion of the climate action plan. As the college recently awarded the contract for the development of the facilities master plan, this is the perfect opportunity to incorporate sustainability into the master plan. Specific components of the facilities master plan that will support the college’s sustainability efforts include new construction and renovation projects, transportation and parking, stormwater management and stream restoration, landscape plan, environmental scanning and academic planning.

Click here for a link to Howard Community College's Sustainability webpage: http://www.howardcc.edu/Visitors/green/index.html

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