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Sustainability in the News
Source: Scientific American

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Seattle Colleges Sign-On to Ambitious Sustainability Goals

The Seattle Colleges recently joined forces with the Seattle 2030 District, a coalition of public and private entities in downtown Seattle focused on ambitious sustainability targets.

The 2030 District hopes to reduce energy, water, and transportation emissions 50 percent by the year 2030. The partnership with the 2030 District shows a commitment to regional leadership on college sustainability. Committing to ambitious goals will drive ambitious actions.

The Seattle Colleges hope to take advantage of many incentive programs (http://www.2030districts.org/seattle/district-member-resources) for energy and water efficiency offered through the 2030 District. Regular meetings and sharing of best practices with other 2030 District members will help keep the District at the cusp of sustainability innovations.

You can read about the Seattle 2030 District, its goals, and progress here:

http://www.2030districts.org/seattle/ »

Seattle Community Colleges Receives Top Sustainability Ranking

Seattle Community Colleges have completed their first District-wide college sustainability assessments and we are pleased to announce that all three colleges have received top-tier sustainability rankings!

According to a representative from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the Seattle Community Colleges District is the first higher education District in the country to achieve sustainability rankings at all of its colleges. This is a proud accomplishment that shows the District’s commitment to being a leader of sustainability in higher education.

The assessments were completed using the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, & Rating System), developed by the AASHE specifically to evaluate those areas of sustainability most important to colleges and universities. Colleges earn points for various indicators of environmental, social, and economic sustainability in curriculum, operations, and campus engagement, as well as innovative sustainability practices.

North Seattle was able to increase its STARS sustainability ranking to Silver - in 2011 it had received a Bronze ranking - more than doubling its sustainability score! South Seattle Community College and Seattle Central Community College both received Bronze ranking. North Seattle has showed that the individual colleges can take information gleaned from the STARS assessments to drastically increase campus sustainability even in just two short years; paving the way for Central and South to do the same.

This past spring, Ian Siadak joined the community colleges as a sustainability coordinator, working with the Sustainability Committee to help complete the assessments and create a roadmap for making Seattle Community Colleges a regional leader in college sustainability. The goal of the assessments was to gather baseline data for each college, compare common strengths and areas for improvement, share best sustainability practices already in place on each college, and develop college-specific and District-wide priorities for enhancing sustainability across the board.

After months of rigorous work and input from students, faculty, and staff at each college the first complete picture of sustainability at the Seattle Community Colleges is beginning to emerge. There are an impressive amount of sustainability-focused efforts already taking place. From South’s leadership in green-jobs focused classes to Central’s Student Sustainability Committee, individual colleges have taken the lead in various areas of environmental stewardship and student engagement. Across the District, our colleges have become more energy efficient, saving tens of thousands of dollars per year and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the District has reduced emissions 15 percent since 2008 and is on track to achieve its 2020 emissions reductions target early: http://seattlecolleges.edu/green/practices/greenhousegas.aspx

The colleges are also working on truly innovative sustainability projects. At North Seattle, student Dennis Skarr created an EcoBike, transforming a traditional exercise bike into a device that can provide clean energy directly to the electricity grid. The EcoBike earned a STARS innovation credit which helped secure the Silver ranking North received.

Beyond illuminating good practices already in place, the STARS assessments provide a look at where the District can improve its sustainability efforts. Reducing college water consumption and making it easier for students to identify courses related to sustainability are top priorities.

Moving forward, the Sustainability Committee and the Sustainability Coordinator will work with each college to implement a sustainability action plan that will tackle short and long-term improvements for each campus in the various social, environmental, and economic aspects of campus sustainability. “Now that we know where stand” says Siadak “we are really excited about moving this work forward efficiently and inclusively.”

If you have questions about the Sustainability Committee or the ongoing sustainability efforts at the Seattle Community Colleges please contact District Sustainability Coordinator Ian Siadak at ian.siadak@seattlecolleges.edu or visit the sustainability webpage at http://www.seattlecolleges.edu/green/.