Commitment made to green programs, buildings, internal practices
Colorado Mountain College is joining 653 colleges and universities in a presidential pledge to sustainability. In a Sept. 25 ceremony at the college’s newest, and greenest, building in Breckenridge, college President Dr. Stan Jensen signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.
“This national initiative attests to the college’s commitment to achieving climate neutrality and to providing 21st century learners the knowledge to establish a culture of sustainability,” said Nancy Genova, the college’s executive vice president for initiatives and innovations.
Institutions signing the climate commitment have promised to:
• Complete a greenhouse gas emissions inventory within one year of signing the agreement,
• Establish a climate action plan within two years that includes a target date and interim milestones for becoming climate neutral,
• Take immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by implementing at least two of a list of seven tangible actions while the climate action plan is being developed,
• Integrate sustainability into the curriculum and make it a part of the educational experience and
• Make their inventory, climate action plan and progress reports publicly available.
College already working to train workers, reduce energy use
Colorado Mountain College is already taking steps to initiate this commitment, college administrators said.
The college has been developing new academic courses that focus on preparing workers for jobs in the 21st century green market. For instance, CMC recently received approval from state higher education officials to offer three solar energy certificate programs: basic solar photovoltaic, solar thermal installation and photovoltaic installation. Several campuses are also offering courses to prepare contractors for certification as National Home Builders Association Certified Green Professionals, North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners and Building Performance Institute Energy Analysts.
A year ago CMC entered into an energy performance contract with the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office. “This contract focuses on increasing building efficiency and renewable energy sources of our facilities,” said Genova.
In fulfilling that contract, the college is undergoing a competitive bidding process for energy audits of its many buildings. Having those audits in hand will create an energy-use baseline and help the college form a plan to reduce energy costs.
Last spring college leadership approved a plan for increasing energy- and resource-conserving practices throughout the college’s dozen locations, said President Jensen. “One of our cross-college teams studying ways to improve our internal processes presented very practical recommendations on how we can be more sustainable,” he said. “As with our other process improvement teams, we’ll be actively measuring our progress on this front.”
Saving money as important as saving energy
Jensen stressed that measures the college takes to save energy and resources will also save money. “In these economic times, it’s important that we wisely invest every tax and tuition dollar,” he said. “We believe frugality and being green can, and should, go hand in hand.
“We will be very aggressive in taking these steps, but will be practical, especially when it comes to showing how we can get a great return on investment on anything we do,” Jensen told college employees and supporters at the signing of the climate commitment. “We also know that just signing a letter won’t do it. It will take the hands and minds of all of us.”
To spread action college-wide, multiple campus “green teams” have been formed, which are encouraging employees and students to take on projects, including the signing of a sustainability pledge. Jensen himself signed that pledge at the convocation marking the beginning of the academic year at the college’s campus in Steamboat Springs.
For more detailed information about the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment please go to www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org. To find out more about Colorado Mountain College’s programs in solar energy, go to www.coloradomtn.edu. And to learn more about the Governor’s Energy Office, to go www.colorado.gov/energy.