Mount Hood Community College
MHCC is a leader in sustainability education programs: Sustainable agriculture with the Youth Employability Support Services, our Fisheries program, Engineering sustainability focused programs, and the Forestry and Natural Resource Management program
MHCC has also been running the Sustainability, Health and Safety Program since 2000, preparing students to successfully address the emerging environmental challenges, including waste management, pollution prevention, energy management, and climate change.
We also have an active student body through our Associated Student Government, which has been a key part of our sustainability success. They have initiated several active programs, including: bottle refill water fountains, solar charging picnic tables, educational outreach, and creating MHCC’s recycling program.
We send out the “Sustainable Tip of the Week”, which helps educate everyone on what they can do at the college, in the community, and in their homes.
Last spring, the City of Gresham partnered with us to conduct one of the largest waste audits and educational forums in the county. We demonstrated how much waste and recycling we accumulate in one day, making it visible for everyone to see. We recognized that we throw away about 1000 cups a day. That created a partnership with our bookstore café to offer “Fill a Mug for a Buck” to help educate and reduce coffee cup waste! Our success in action and education has been recognized in several community events and newspapers.
Through our partnership with the City of Gresham, we are certified as a GREAT Business, recognizing businesses in our community demonstrating active sustainability.
MHCC has a strong commitment to sustainability and climate leadership, and is viewed by the community and college community as an innovative leader. We have been featured in several local newspaper articles for achievements in storm water, sustainability, and environmental practices.
MHCC is an active member of the Beaver Creek Partnership, a group of local government and private companies that closely monitor environmental impacts in the area, and especially the Beaver and Kelly Creek systems that feed into the Sandy River. In this partnership, the team applied and was awarded $1.2M in capital dollars for bio swale and educational projects on the MHCC campus.
In addition to these efforts, the ongoing sustainable campus operations earned us the achievement of Salmon Safe certification in Oct 2016, a 5 year certification and the first community college to certify in the US. We built a 5 year innovation plan to further improve on water quality and environmental impacts. Students and college programs participate in the Salmon Safe efforts, replanting projects, and will be part of the upcoming retrofit projects.
We hold annual Strawberry Short Course Festival sustainability-related courses for college staff and the community, and provide solid waste collection events on campus regularly.
MHCC has also joined the CRUX initiative, to help build resiliency with local partners, which will have a positive impact on the college and the community.
MHCC is leading the charge in areas of sustainability for the East County communities and organizations, creating an example for others to follow.
MHCC has strategically planned improvements and is part of a state energy cohort through the Energy Trust of Oregon, which shares information and strategies on utility conservation, minimizing the overall carbon impact. Over the past 8 years, MHCC has reduced energy consumption by 55% with physical plant high-efficiency equipment, advanced scheduling methods for classrooms and events, and LED lighting. We continue to make quarterly improvements and develop initiatives to gather further savings. A current initiative is summer class relocation to core areas, shutting down targeted zones for savings.
MHCC has also installed 2 solar projects on campus, one at the Early Childhood Development Center as part of new construction, and a 100 KW solar project on the existing Academic Center. The college had to be creative in how to fund these projects and engaged with Johnson Controls and Honeywell in performance contracts, using the savings to pay back the cost of the installations.
To improve the culture and make improvements in areas not directly under the control of the college, MHCC has built and joined engagement efforts to educate students and staff. One of these was the Northwest Earth Institute sustainability challenge for all of the Northwest businesses and colleges, where MHCC was the regional winner. This challenge required students and staff to individually sign up and complete personal sustainable actions every day, both inside and outside of the college. We also joined the Employment Options Commune, supporting commute reduction through “Bike to Work Challenges” and other initiatives.