Sustainability, as fostered by the President’s Climate Leadership Commitment, has been an institutional strategic focus since 2009. Past Action Plans have focused on student preparedness by expanding, promoting, and codifying sustainability across the curriculum and creating a sustainability-responsible culture. We have been successful in meeting each action plan through structured goals and bi-annual executive review.
Very specific Action Plans through 2019 are intended to fast track our progress: Assess s-learning outcomes; Explore s-certificate program; Investigate transferability of s-certificate programs and/or curriculum paths toward 4-year related degrees; Continue regular college-wide sustainability-related communication.
Our steadfast efforts, which emphasize climate change/resiliency and cultivation of a green economy, are evident in the growth of sustainability-related class sections—from 76 in 2014-15 to 133 sections in 2016-17. Over the same period, the number of full-time faculty teaching sustainability-related courses doubled from 15 to 30.
Sustainability-immersed study abroad has flourished. In less than three years, five travel venues have been completed with 85 student travelers. All student travelers earn a sustainability transcript designation. At least 10 students elected high level, honors option climate/sustainability-related projects. Extra seats on study abroad travel are offered to community members and to students from other colleges to link campus to community and to grow exposure to the green economy, climate change, and resiliency.
Over the past year, the college’s main website and department webpages were redesigned toward new student recruitment and community awareness. Sustainability was selected as a key recruiting element and is featured on the newly launched site.
To align our community with our changing planet, the college successfully offers learning sessions over several subject areas. Highlights include:
1 – Urban Farming highlights conservation, long-term resilience, reduced food insecurity, and effective self-sufficiency, and sustainable agricultural. Sessions create awareness for community -supported agriculture among consumers, farmers, markets, and farm-to-table operations to build a vibrant and sustainable food culture in our Great Lakes Bay region. Learning is presented by a combination of interactive, hands-on, lecture, and film segments. Sessions include Soil Health & Amendments, Seeds & Companion Plants, Farming in Small Spaces, Backyard Poultry, Building Farm Equipment, Farm Markets, Seed Saving, Herbs & Flowers, Intensive Grazing, and Farm-to-Table Field Trip among others. AACC/ SEED Green Genome provided program funding via an award granted on the basis of community engagement.
2 – Summer Camp invites local youths to exciting learning sessions:
Farm-to-Fork: Agri Science – Partnering with Michigan State University, students experience extensive exposure to agriculture, Michigan’s 2nd ranked industry. Youths learn agriculture technology, crop familiarity, food origination, urban farming, entomology, and composting. Participants explore career options for a changing climate with local ag leaders.
City X Project presents a fictitious new planet faced with social challenges such as environment, education, health, and safety. Students create prototype imaginative inventions to solve problems on our changing planet and to gain valuable STEM skills.
3 – Technical Trades non-credit, offerings include certificates in Biofuels Production Operations, Principles of Green Building, Solar Power Professional, and Wind Energy Professional. Single sessions include solar roofing for cottages and barns.
Energy-efficient equipment upgrades and renovations that address conservation have significantly reduced campus utilities.
• Electric use reduced 20% over 9 yrs
• Gas use decreased11% over 7 yrs
• Water use decreased 38% over 4 yrs
• Potential total cost savings (electric/gas) $1.25m over the next 10 years
Because actively engaging in using upgrades to the best of their abilities holds great potential to multiply savings, the Energy Conservation Council (ECC) convened in 2016. Using an active management approach and relying on partnership with Facilities and Sustainability to build momentum for positive change and cooperation from all levels, ECC:
• Sets and acts upon department conservation goals
• Engages the campus community to address energy efficiency issues and to promote energy resourcefulness
• Introduces and acts on initiatives; shares and informs existing efforts
• Acts as the communication link with FM and departments to identify areas for improvement and conservation
• Determines which ideas need management or support to realize success
While building capacity for continuous improvement and long-term results, ECC has accomplished:
• Approval of a campus-wide Energy Conservation Policy
• Launched the ‘Power of a Single Action’ campaign
• Submitted Energy Conservation Policy supplements for approval by Executive staff:
o Guidelines for the Use of Portable Heaters /Cooling Fans
o Use of Portable Heater Approval Checklist
o Portable Heater Acknowledgement Form
Partnering with Consumers Energy maximizes funds and opportunity for climate resilient/energy conservative projects. Over several years, our work with their Energy Incentive Program has resulted in a savings of 2,275,445 kWh, 11,897 MCF, and rebates of over $300,000.