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Anne Arundel Community College
Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) takes great pride in addressing the social, economic, and ecological facets of sustainability. According to Jim Taylor, the school’s director of facilities, planning, and construction, this is because the school’s faculty, staff, and students demand it. AACC had been actively pursuing sustainability for many years but hadn’t been documenting its efforts. In 2008, several faculty and staff members attended a conference geared toward greening community colleges. When they returned, the school’s administration created the Sustainability Learning Design Team to investigate, assess, and recommend initiatives that promote and support sustainability within the learning environment.
AACC is also a member of the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the organization that created STARS, a voluntary self-assessment tool that provides colleges with sustainability benchmarks and the ability to set goals for the future. Some of the school’s current green initiatives and projects include the renovation of the campus’ existing Ludlum Hall Administration Building and the replacement of existing exterior lighting fixtures with energy-efficient LED lighting fixtures.
One of AACC’s most impressive endeavors is the renovation of the 40-year-old Andrew G. Truxal Library. According to Joyce Dawson, AACC’s assistant director of facilities planning and construction, rather than call for a new freestanding building, AACC sought to build a major addition that would strengthen all of the positive elements of the building while correcting weaknesses and modernizing the facility. “We sought to create a fresh and stimulating new image while recognizing the significance of the library as the symbolic heart of the campus,” Dawson says.
Camden County College
Blackwood, New Jersey
Camden County College has a relationship with sustainability going back a dozen years when the community college first joined the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability in 2001. The school’s approach to sustainability hinges on a six-point plan: education, energy-efficiency and conservation measures, high-performance green designs, sustainable material use, student activism, and media outreach.
The school’s Blackwood campus built a new science building (pictured above) in November 2012, which features water-efficient landscaping, recycled building materials, and highly reflective Energy Star-certified roof surface, among many other features. The college incorporated USGBC design standards into the project with the goal of obtaining a minimum of LEED Silver certification. According to the school’s senior director of construction, Ron Garbowski, the Blackwood campus as a whole is in the midst of a transformation. There are numerous sustainable building upgrades and energy-efficient additions in the works, such as high-efficiency LED lighting for parking lots and roadways, which could result in energy savings of up to 70 percent.
“Community colleges are truly an untapped resource for green-building design and sustainability, and community colleges have the opportunity to mold our future leaders to accept [these] as the norm,” Garbowski says. “It’s our responsibility to instill these values as the only possible course of action that we all must follow, and our time under the Center for Green Schools program has been rewarding. We have developed a series of standards and programs that are now commonplace at Camden County College, and these programs touch everyone.”
Clover Park Technical College
Clover Park Technical College is currently experiencing a sustainable revolution, which is, in large part, thanks to Dan Smith, an instructor at the school. Smith began teaching the school’s residential construction class in 2007, and he was introduced to green building practices a few years later. Within a matter of months, the school was participating in the Center for Green Schools’ Community Green initiative, Smith launched the campus’s USGBC student group, and work began on what would eventually become the Zero Energy House.
The Zero Energy House is the first educational zero-energy structure in Washington to have a totally transparent systems approach to green building. It was conceived with the mission of developing a location on campus where the sustainable building science and construction program students could immerse themselves in a well-designed environment and experience the benefits of green building.
The house, which took the students three years to complete, uses a wide range of cutting-edge technologies, displays green building practices, and incorporates a system integrated approach to building, but it’s also well on its way to serving a much larger purpose. Since its grand opening in May, the Zero Energy House has become a working laboratory for students and a venue for an upcoming lecture series surrounding green building concepts and sustainability issues. The content of the series is being developed in partnership with the USGBC Cascadia Branch steering committee. The building-science classes will also use the house for energy audit training and real-time monitoring and tracking of the systems.
Wayne County Community College district
Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) is the second largest community college in Michigan, spanning six campuses and serving more than 70,000 students. Hamilton Anderson Associates is the pioneering sustainable design firm responsible for the mesmerizing Detroit School of Arts, a performing-arts high school and the first LEED-certified building in the Detroit area. When you put the two together, you get one powerful partnership.
When Wayne County set out to elevate its northwest campus to flagship status, it needed a team to set a new precedent for a 21st-century community college learning environment, and the school turned to Hamilton Anderson to reach beyond traditional boundaries and expand the progressive learning opportunities for the citizens of Wayne County.
Hamilton Anderson has worked on a number of projects for WCCCD over the years as part of the $42 million Northwest Campus Replacement project, which involves a new 90,000-square-foot academic building, a 10,000-square-foot addition to the existing main academic building, a new central power plant for the campus and associated infrastructure, and 10 acres of site design. The new central power plant uses geothermal heat pumps, thermal storage, dual-stage boilers, and heat-pump chillers to maximize energy efficiency. Although the rest of campus currently runs off the original 1940s central plant, once the remaining five buildings are connected to this new plant, the efficiency of the entire campus will improve dramatically.
According to Mike Decoster, an architect at Hamilton Anderson, the northwest campus academic building incorporates various sustainable design elements in a visible manner, allowing the college to use the facility as a teaching tool. When completed, WCCCD is submitting the building for LEED Platinum certification.
Read our full story: The Promise of the Community College