Winning at Sustainability

October 3, 2016

JCCC wins three national awards for its earth-wise efforts

Over at the Center for Sustainability, they’re making more room on the trophy shelf. Announced only a few weeks apart, Johnson County Community College scored three major national awards for its ongoing sustainability efforts.

“Winning three national awards within such a short period of time has made for an exciting fall semester. Most importantly, they’ve inspired us to continue our good work and do even more,” said Kristy Howell, sustainability education and engagement coordinator for the center.

Trifecta of tribute

The first award was the Climate Leadership Award, awarded from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the national nonprofit Second Nature. Its main message? Good job keeping your commitment to the climate and environment.

The second was the Outstanding Higher Education Award from the National Recycling Coalition. Its takeaway? JCCC is stellar at recycling and has programs worth copying at other colleges.

The third was the American Association of Community College's SEED Center Green Genome Award, which included $10,000 as part of the honor. The thinking behind the selection? Of the 480 community colleges who have joined the Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center, JCCC’s sustainability program design and delivery topped the list.

Though targeted to different aspects of sustainability, the three awards did share a common trait of recognizing proactive action to protect the earth, its resources and its people.

Awards as validation

Jay Antle, executive director for the Center for Sustainability, said, “Awards are appreciated, but only to the point where they are a validation for our efforts,” he said. “They shed light on all we do on campus to support sustainability, and remind us that we have so much more to do.”

Those efforts have included but are not limited to:

  • A composting program that produces more than 22,000 pounds of compost each year. Food waste from Dining Services (along with other items) is placed in an in-vessel composting reactor, and the resulting compost is used by the Open Petal Farm on campus.
  • An energy program that has saved nearly $2 million in the avoided cost of electricity. The campus has 153kW of photovoltaic solar power, including the 116kW created from the panels recently installed on top of the Hospitality and Culinary Academy (pictured above).
  • A single-stream recycling program that has made recycling easier. Sales of recycled products have generated more than $140,000 for student scholarships.
  • Incorporation of sustainability into classroom curriculum through the Sunflower Project 2.0. The award program supports faculty efforts to infuse sustainability into their teaching.
  • The creation and support of student-centered experiences such as the Student Sustainability Committee, the Student Environmental Alliance and internships with the Center for Student Involvement.

For more examples of sustainability in practice on campus, check out the Center for Sustainability website.

If you’re interested in helping with sustainability efforts on campus, contact Antle or other members of the Center for Sustainability staff.