Bellevue College has taken exceptional leadership in climate change and sustainability through education, innovation and a collaborative approach between students, faculty and staff.
Sustainability at Bellevue College, the umbrella group for the department, student association and committees, is a student-centered effort. Students encouraged our president to sign the APUCC, the student government created a position for environmental responsibility and students created and approved a voluntary fee to fund projects and matching funds to create the Office of Sustainability.
Climate initiatives occur inside the classroom, through student programs and across campus. Bellevue College created a Faculty Commons with sustainability as a core principal. Through a dedicated sustainability curriculum manager, professional development sessions, and workshops with stipends for faculty, we are working to integrate sustainability across the curriculum. In partnership with the library the Commons offers book clubs on Deep Economy by Bill McKibben, our all-campus BC Reads book for 2012-13. Students are be encouraged to lead where faculty are not through targeted incentives for transforming major assignments into sustainability-related projects, whether in accounting, ethnic studies, art or any other discipline.
Bellevue College invites the community to join students for Earth Weeks, a series of lectures, films and events presented by community partners, faculty and staff. Bellevue College is partnering with the Environmental Priorities Coalition, a network of 25 leading environmental groups, to host a legislative training for 300 people in January to prepare students to reach beyond campus and advocate for sustainability and climate policy. The Sustainability Advocate internship launched with this event complements paid student opportunities in transportation, resource (GHG) accounting, communications, office auditing, waste reduction and food.
Bellevue College has moved from resignation over our “commuter school” status, and transportation’s 75% share of emissions, to action, and won the Governor’s Commute Smart Award. Through a plan created by a task force of students, faculty and staff, we began to charge to park to manage demand and offset increasing bus pass costs. At the same time we reformed the bus pass program, growing participation 30%. We launched the innovative and regionally integrated BC RideMatch web tool with a $50,000 grant, installed the first DC “Fast Charger” for electric vehicles at U.S. community college, created a partnership for car-sharing, put in a real-time bus arrival screen, and established a transportation desk. We drove our single occupancy vehicle (SOV) rate down 10% and plan to conduct travel advising for 4,000 students next year.
We have also invested in reducing our emissions from electricity and gas consumption. We are implementing a $2.8 million energy retrofit leveraging $1.35 million in grants from our utility and the state commerce department. Touching the entire campus, we will be the largest “enhanced lighting” grantee our utility has served to date. The project includes a demonstration solar array with a display in the center of campus and an energy dashboard relevant both to energy management staff and students.
Bellevue College is a leader on climate because of our innovative programs, student centered approach and cross-college and community collaboration.