Montgomery County Community College Recognized for Climate Leadership

Montgomery County Community College receives Second Nature’s 2nd Annual Climate Leadership Award. Award recipients were recognized at the 5th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Summit in Washington, DC on June 23rd, hosted by George Washington University.

Since joining the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitmentin 2007, sustainability has become a core value at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC). Sustainability efforts are led by a team of faculty, students, administrators, support staff, alumni and community members that comprise the President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Council. Chaired by College President Dr. Karen Stout, the Council developed the College’s first-ever Climate Commitment Action Plan, outlining short and long-term strategies to reach carbon neutrality.

The plan, which is divided into key categories –including transportation, campus operations, curricular and co-curricular activities, and community outreach – was reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency and was endorsed by the College’s Board of Trustees. The new and current strategic plan, “Great Expectations: Keeping the Promise of Student Access and Success,” focuses on campus renewal and sustainability as one of MCCC’s strategic goals.

The College introduced a new general education core curriculum that shapes students’ experiences through 13 learning competencies. One competency is civic responsibility, which requires students to analyze society’s environmental impact on the non-human world and future generations to better ensure sustainability.

MCCC also introduced an associate’s degree program in Environmental Science, and it continues adding new non-credit courses and certifications in high-demand programs like green building technology and waste-water treatment.

Outside of the classroom, many student-led clubs and organizations perform environmental service as part of their charters. This year, 12 students had the unique opportunity to travel to Michigan during spring break to work on LEED certified construction projects with Habitat for Humanity.

The College values the importance of lifelong learning and recognizes its fundamental role as a cultural and educational resource for the region. Through a faculty-driven lecture series on climate change and green-themed activities, MCCC engages the community in ongoing environmental conversations.

The College’s facilities utilize best practices in sustainability. Examples include using CFL and LED lamps and motion sensors in lighting fixtures, restoring natural grass areas on campus, composting, installing virtual servers in IT, expanding recycling efforts, and using environmentally-friendly products.

Recently, the College partnered with Community Energy to purchase 100% of its energy from wind power. The purchase offsets more than 8,500 metric tons of carbon per year and will save $17,000 in costs over the next two years.

As a commuter institution, transportation emissions are a large part of its carbon footprint. MCCC instituted a shuttle that makes the 30-mile trip between the College’s Central and West campuses several times per day. Free to students and equipped with Wi-Fi, the shuttle reduces commuter traffic by more than 3,500 miles per day at full capacity.

The College also invested in hybrid vehicles, electric utility carts and bicycles for its public safety and facilities teams. And, it worked with SEPTA to modify an existing bus route through the Central Campus, saving 20,000 miles of travel annually.