Johnson County Community College wins national Climate Leadership Award

September 15, 2016

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Citing its commitment to sustainability issues within higher education, the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) selected Johnson County Community College for a national Climate Leadership Award.

In partnership with the national nonprofit Second Nature, the USGBC chose JCCC in the category of two-year schools. Arizona State University was recognized in the four-year-school category.

“We are thrilled to recognize these institutions for their dedication to creating a sustainable higher education environment,” said Jaime Van Mourik, director of higher education, USGBC.

Van Mourik said JCCC is not just reducing its environmental impact; it is also “using green building practices as a teachable moment for students and faculty that will inform and benefit generations to come, as well as launch the next generation of global sustainability citizens.”

The seventh annual Climate Leadership Awards recognize innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate change mitigation and resilience at college and university campuses that participate in Second Nature’s climate commitments. This year’s recipients show leadership through practices, partnerships and initiatives designed to tackle some of the greatest modern challenges.

Jay Antle, executive director for the Center for Sustainability at JCCC, said, “This award is a validation for all we do on campus to support sustainability. The (award) reviewers were impressed that we were active in lots of different sectors of sustainability, including student engagement, community engagement, facilities and curriculum.

While it’s easy to equate the award with the efforts of Center for Sustainability personnel, Antle is quick to share the credit. “The award is the work of a variety of people in many departments making this campus a more sustainable place,” Antle said.

The center was created in 2009, only months after JCCC’s then-president, Terry Calaway, signed The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Later that year, JCCC honors students succeeded in petitioning the student body to approve a sustainability initiatives fund (SIF). Students currently pay a $1 per credit hour fee to fund sustainability initiatives. Initiatives like these have led to the college reducing its energy usage by 25 percent since 2008 and increasing its waste-diversion-from-landfill rate to 51 percent.

This year saw close to 40 institutions vying for the two awards, and winners were chosen from a pool of 19 finalists. In the category for two-year institutions, honorable mentions (added for the first time in 2016) were given to Milwaukee Area Technical College and Santa Fe Community College.

Award winners will be recognized as part of the 2016 USGBC Leadership Awards Luncheon at the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo on Thursday, Oct. 6, in Los Angeles, California. Visit Second Nature to learn more about the Climate Leadership Awards.