HCC Leads the Way in “GREENING” Florida’s Community Colleges

As a rising number of educational institutions realize the importance of developing and implementing campus-wide sustainability initiatives, Hillsborough Community College (HCC) stands out as a model of excellence leading the way for other colleges. In December 2008, HCC’s President Dr. Gwendolyn Stephenson signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), an effort by higher education institutions to eliminate their global warming contribution by a chosen target date. HCC joined over 685 colleges and universities nationwide and became the first two-year college in the State of Florida to commit to a series of goals to guide the institution to climate neutrality. Although Dr. Stephenson retired in 2010, Dr. Ken Atwater, the new HCC President, is equally committed to ensuring that HCC fulfills the goals set forth by ACUPCC.

In addition to HCC, there are 12 other colleges/universities in Florida that have signed the ACUPCC and
have campus-wide sustainability initiatives. HCC also has a comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CAP) outlining its approach to achieve college-wide climate neutrality by 2050. The CAP supports a vision of sustainability - balancing the natural environment, economic prosperity and the quality of life of the HCC community. Last April, HCC launched Zimride – a new carpooling opportunity for students designed reduce greenhouse gas emissions from travel. As a commuter school, HCC’s students and employees rely heavily on personal vehicles to travel to and from campus. With almost 48,000 students and 2,500 staff commuting to and from campus daily, greenhouse gas emissions generated by this travel comprise more than 75% of HCC’s entire carbon footprint. Through Zimride, students and staff are able to save money, preserve the environment and reduce campus traffic.

HCC’s newest campus locations, the Southshore Campus and the Student Services building on the Ybor campus, reflect the college’s continued commitment to sustainable practices, receiving Gold and Silver LEED certification respectively. Through the College’s Sustainability Council, many ongoing educational opportunities are provided to the HCC community including the recently introduced Sustainability Power Performance Webinars. These Webinars focus on diverse “green” topics such as HCC’s Waste and Energy Management and Zimride.

Last summer, HCC’s South Shore campus was host to an Energy Camp for 25 students from Beth Shields Middle School in Ruskin. The camp focused on solar energy and was coordinated by the Florida Advanced Technological Education (FLATE) group housed on the Brandon Campus. It was a great success and a second camp is planned for this summer. In addition, FLATE staff has also been working to map out energy career pathways and energy-related curriculum frameworks, including a new Energy Efficiency Specialization for the Engineering Technology Degree offered at HCC. Through ongoing sustainability and college “greening” efforts, HCC continues to shine as an example of what can be achieved when a college community works together to make common goals a reality. Synergy at its best…

For more information visit www.hccfl.edu/Sustainability/OurCarbonFootprint.html . For information on FLATE’s partnership with HCC on alternative energy systems contact Nina Stokes, project manager for FESC at stokes@fl-ate.org, or visit www.fl-ate.org/projects/fesc.html.

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