Valencia College is a community college in Orlando, Fla., founded in 1967 and now attended by more than 69,000 students on five campuses. Valencia College President Dr. Sanford Shugart signed the ACUPCC in June 2009, making Valencia the first associate’s college in Florida to sign the agreement. With a 47% reduction in electricity use per square foot in the past three years, the college leads through its emphasis on energy efficiency for both new and existing buildings. Its strategic energy efficiency efforts reduce operating costs, and savings have been used to support the college’s mission of “learning-centered education” and student success. Currently the college is in the process of selling three years of Scope 2 Stationary Source (electricity) emission reductions as voluntary carbon credits in the Chevrolet Carbon Reduction Project pilot and will use these funds to set up a Green Revolving Fund. Through AASHE case studies and conference presentations, we are sharing this unique financing mechanism and our energy-efficiency efforts throughout the higher education community.
Valencia College shares energy-efficiency technologies and programs with the local community through workshops that include tours of our six LEED Gold or equivalent buildings and state of the art chiller plants. The college, in partnership with Orange County, hosted a series of ARRA-funded homeowner energy efficiency rebate workshops and has partnered with local electric utility providers to install 10 charging stations that are available for public use. As a commuter school in a metro area with poorly developed alternative transportation infrastructure, Valencia is working to lower our transportation carbon footprint by promoting ride-matching, utilizing a regional Department of Transportation funded ride-matching program and by improving bicycle and pedestrian access to the campuses.
Valencia College seeks to help students gain awareness of the college’s energy-efficiency efforts and to increase their understanding of the science behind climate issues through courses, events, films and guest speakers. The Sustainability Committee, in partnership with the facilities department, encourages projects that help to protect the campus’s natural environment, as well as the college’s investment in efficiency, demand reduction, and clean energy production. Valencia’s Sustainability Across the Curriculum faculty development class, developed and taught by four committee members, has graduated 48 instructors, with graduates infusing sustainability and climate change awareness into their diverse courses. On Valencia’s three major campuses, student Eco-Clubs collaborate with the committee to organize awareness-building events, including Green Apple Day of Service, Campus Sustainability Day, Arbor Day, and Earth Day, as well as monthly Your Campus Environment walks.
Valencia College annually celebrates Learning Day, when faculty and staff engage in experiential learning activities linking our college to the community. A growing number of classes have a Service Learning component, and introducing faculty to volunteering for non-profit organizations is a way to expand Service Learning. A new course, “the New Student Experience,” will soon be required of every entering student and will include information about sustainability, energy efficiency and the campus environment.