Cedar Valley College

Cedar Valley College (CVC) Sustainable Communities Institute (SCI) in partnership with the Greater Dallas Planning Council and the Best South West Partnership (includes 12 cities of southern Dallas Metropolitan Area) have identified that “climate change” and “sustainability”, depending on the stakeholder, can be perceived as science or political drama. CVC’s service area: southern Dallas and northern Ellis counties has available land, privileged cargo transportation accessibility and one of the highest levels of poverty. How can we move forward with a sustainable development model that attracts private and public investments, creates livable wage jobs and guarantees environmental justice for current and future neighborhoods?

The SCI contacted Professor Paul Lussier of Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Sciences. Lussier is the Founder and Director of the Yale Science Communications with Impact Network (SCWIN) for the development, piloting and deployment of coalition-building public communication strategies, public policy, and business sector engagement with planetary science. In the 2016-17 academic year the Yale undergraduate/graduate students and the CVC associate degree honor developed a communications narrative and network strategy to guide a regional sustainable economic development model. The research goal was to identify and interview local stakeholders, craft a comprehensive understanding of each partner’s’ values and priorities, and forge an all-encompassing communications narrative and network that galvanizes communal regional support of the sustainable economic development model. These partnerships have created an experiential learning opportunity for 50 students, deepening their understanding and improving their communication about the impact of economic development on climate change and sustainability.

Climate Innovation

The Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) consists of seven campuses enrolling 85,000 students. Cedar Valley College (CVC), one of the seven DCCCD campuses, serves approximately 8,000 students providing them with diverse educational opportunities including faculty and student training through the faculty-led Green Cord Program, Living Lab Initiatives, as well as monthly community Sustainability Awareness events, including an annual sustainability conference of 350 plus participants.

The Green Cord Program is the brainchild of CVC’s visionary Real Estate professor, Dr. Steve Brown. Dr. Brown is the creator of Q-TIPS, Quality Teaching in Practical Sustainability. Developed out of a need to incorporate sustainable practices in the classroom, Q-TIPS certification provides sustainability training to faculty members. Once certified, instructors are expected to weave sustainability practices and/or content into their courses across all disciplines, with support directed towards AASHE’s excellent DANS network. The main objective is to increase learning in undergraduate STEM courses, and to better prepare students for the ‘big questions’ of the 21st Century as they relate to real-world issues such as climate change, energy consumption, air, land and water quality.

Q-TIPS certification is a campus-wide initiative. A large percentage of courses now have a ‘green’ status. Green Courses, taught by Q-TIPS certified instructors, are available across several disciplines including Marketing, Government, Human Development, Biology, Philosophy, English and Spanish. Green courses are designated on student transcripts, students are presented with a Green Cord, which can be worn during commencement. Since May 2014 more than 320 students have graduated with a Green Cord.

Creating Opportunity

Cedar Valley College (CVC) serves predominantly African American and Hispanic populations, research has proven disproportionate health impacts from emissions due to the use of coal, oil, and gas as well as climate change in lower income areas.

As a community college, all students and employees commutes every day, this makes it really hard to reduce Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG). With a Living Lab initiative, marketing students have developed a marketing campaign to increase car-pooling with an App that is on the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) website. A free Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) pass is offered to all full-time students, as a poverty alleviation mechanism, it is also an incentive for students and employees to not drive to CVC.

Since the year 2006, CVC has prepared five GHG Reports, being one of the first community colleges to sign the ACUPCC/Second Nature commitment and recognized nationwide as a Sustainability Center of Excellence. Many energy efficiency actions have been implemented by CVC facilities. All buildings have electricity meters, the students have been analyzing the data and proposing energy efficiency measures.

CVC’s has reduced GHG emissions by 6.21%, the target is 10% reduction by 2020. Partnering with the Department of Energy/National Renewable Energy Lab, the Environmental Protection Agency, local utilities, public officials, educational institutions and private consultants; CVC led an alternative energy feasibility study. With a Power Purchasing Agreement, a large-scale onsite solar energy project is possible at CVC, providing hands-on learning opportunities while improving regional air quality.