Cedar Valley College

Student Preparedness  

Cedar Valley College (CVC) is creating educational opportunities through a diverse combination of faculty and student training via their faculty-led Green Cord program as well as their monthly Sustainability Awareness events held throughout the year on campus. The Green Cord program is lead by Cedar Valley College’s visionary Real Estate professor, Dr. Steve Brown, who created an online faculty-training program across all disciplines to enroll in on their own time to become Quality Teaching in Practical Sustainability (QTIPS) certified.

Once a faculty member becomes certified, they are expected to weave sustainability-oriented content into their courses across all disciplines, with support being directed to AASHE’s excellent DANS network. As a result, CVC’s “Green Cord” program now features over 200 courses that are being taught by their certified QTIPS certified professors and many feature green economy angles—from incorporating sustainability into class business plan projects to proposals to reroute campus traffic and minimize soil erosion in areas currently overly stressed by pedestrians.

The Green Cord program has experienced phenomenal growth in the past three years in terms of student participation: 8 students graduated with the certificate in 2014, 64 in 2015, and this spring almost 100 will receive with their Green Cord. Students from the college help serve on our climate leadership commitment discussions and community partnerships run deeply in CVC campus—with sociology professors planning neighborhood surveys with local food preferences and garden volunteering to government professors having their city council members coming to class to present on how to get involved in green development projects.

Climate Innovation

One of CVC’s most ambitious Living Lab initiatives this year was an interdisciplinary collaboration between their Pottery faculty and Solar Energy/Building Performance faculty. Over 100 students have helped out in its creation, beginning with ceramics students working together throughout the fall to plan an ambitious 8’ x 10’ ceramic sculpture design that will feature several prominent CVC sustainability themes.

Nurturing hands cradle freshly grown produce to represent CVC’s ongoing implementation of a campus butterfly and edible garden. Faculty, staff, and students work together while encircling a tree’s deep roots to represent the foundation that they are working together to build and educate CVC’s community in how to not only live sustainably but also prepare for and adapt for coming change. The bright sun bursts through the mural representing not only their mascot “Sun” but also their 3 ongoing plans for a large solar array installment on campus that features many electrical connections and solar powered and motion activated pieces, including flowing water. This sculpture was envisioned to meet a need identified in a campus focus groups to have more prominent, permanent student-made art that communicates our central theme of sustainability.

Cedar Valley College also has a new Gold LEED certified building and will be working, in fall of 2016, with students as a LEED Lab project in order to obtain the LEED-OM certification for this building with the support of faculty, students and facilities employees. This will create a problem/project based learning experience for students, making them more competitive for the workforce.

Creating Opportunity 

CVC has been working together with national government agencies, administrative decision-makers, public officials, private consultants, and a wide variety of stakeholders to bring large-scale solar energy to the campus some time in the year ahead. CVC is working with their DCCCD Board of Directors to move forward on putting out a RFP and their vision is to become a net zero campus with a diverse set of solar installments—largely ground-mounted, but also carport and roof-top components. Cedar Valley College has partnered with their city council member to host a series of community feedback sessions throughout South Dallas to gather input from neighbors of the Cedar Valley College and make sure their comments and concerns are addressed through any future development.

As a campus that serves a predominantly African American and Hispanic population, CVC knows that there are disproportionate health impacts from emissions due to the use of coal, oil, and gas. As a result, they take pride in this community project as an opportunity to address their metro areas higher than average respiratory illness and asthma rates.

Additionally, being in the midst of a food desert CVC is working with community partners—churches, local nonprofits, and neighborhood groups—to move forward with implementing a campus community garden to grow healthy local food. In doing so the college will minimize travel emissions for transporting food and connect our students with knowledge on organic soil sciences that when done right absorbs carbon dioxide and increases student retention, quality of life and food security for the campus community.