Century College is a two-year community and technical college located in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota. It is a commuter college with 15,000 full and part-time students enrolling in credit coursework each year and another 15,000 enrolling in the college’s continuing education/certified training courses. Century College is one of 54 colleges and universities in the Minnesota State College and University system (MnSCU) and ranks second in level of diversity of students.
Sustainability Summary and Highlights
According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, http://www.ipcc.ch/ ) and thousands of other scientific experts, climate change is a reality that we must face sooner rather than later if there is any hope of reigning it in before it’s reached a point of no return. Since colleges and universities have traditionally been a major source of societal change, it is important for these institutions to take a leading role in seeking ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and teach others ways to work toward sustainability by way of being a role model, providing educational opportunities in renewable energy and green jobs training, and more.
In 2006, a group of 12 college and university presidents attending an AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) developed the idea of a national college and university sustainability movement. They officially launched the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in February 2007. By March 2007, 152 presidents and chancellors became signatories to the Commitment. As of this writing (August 2009), 650 college and university presidents have signed the Commitment.
The Presidents’ Climate Commitment provides a framework and support for America’s colleges and universities to go climate neutral. Coordination and support are provided by AASHE, ecoAmerica, Second Nature. These three non-profit organizations collectively provide the infrastructure for the initiative, including the website (http://presidentsclimatecommitment.org), outreach, tracking, and financial management. Presidents signing the Commitment are pledging to eliminate their campuses’ greenhouse gas emissions over time. This involves:
1. Completing periodic greenhouse gas emissions inventories.
2. Within two years, setting a target date and interim milestones for becoming climate neutral.
3. Taking immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by choosing from a list of short-term actions.
4. Integrating sustainability into the curriculum and making it part of the educational experience.
5. Making the action plan, inventory and progress reports publicly available.
Century College’s President, Dr. Lawrence Litecky, signed the commitment in October 2007. While Dr. Litecky was on sabbatical to research high school-community college initiatives, Acting President O’Brien requested the formation of a climate committee in August 2008. The Century College President’s Climate Committee is made up of 20 members, including students, faculty, staff, and administrators.
Century College’s short-term action plan includes the following:
1. Establish policy that all new building construction and renovation will be done to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED* Silver Standard or equivalent.
— In August, 2008, Century College’s new Science/Library Building opened. The building meets the guidelines for LEED Silver Standard Certification. Applying for LEED certification was considered but not pursued after receiving cost estimate.
*Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
2. Adopt an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.
3. Within one year of signing this document, reduce energy consumption by 15% or begin purchasing or producing at least 15% of our institution’s electricity from renewable sources.
– According to experts and best practices, recommissioning/increasing efficiency is said to be a way of making significant reductions and should be done first.
4. Participate in the waste minimization component of the national RecycleMania competition, and adopt 3 or more associated measures to reduce waste.
a) Increase recycling efforts
b) Increase composting program (volumes and collection)
c) Set goals in other ways to reduce waste, including reduction of paper use, climate change and sustainability education of employees and students.
As of this writing, Century College has completed its baseline greenhouse gas inventory and is in the process of implementing its short-term actions. The long-term climate action plan is presently being drafted and should be completed and published at http://presidentsclimatecommitment.org in January 2010.
Century College is currently developing the following new certificate and Associate Degrees:
Renewable Energy Technologist
Our new 16-credit certificate is designed for individuals who want more background in renewable energy concepts and theory, and may be of particular interest to engineering and science students.
Associate of Applied Science – Solar Energy Technologist
This degree will offer students a choice of emphasis areas in the emerging solar field. These emphasis areas will also be available as stand-alone certificates.
Associate of Applied Science in Renewable Energy
As part of a state-wide consortium, Century College will be offering a shared degree in Renewable Energy. Century College students will be able to take courses in wind, solar, biofuels and other energy fields. A series of certificates will be available from Century College and the other consortium schools.