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Home­Colleges in Action ­ Success Stories ­ Cedar Valley College: Relationships That Are Making a Difference For a Sustainable Community

Strategic Partnerships

Cedar Valley College: Relationships That Are Making a Difference For a Sustainable Community

- Dr. Jennifer Wimbish, President Cedar Valley College (BIO)
- Pam Daniel, Sustainability Project Coordinator Cedar Valley College

Cedar Valley College (CVC), one of the seven colleges of the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD), recognizes the role that community colleges play in advancing green programs which are important to a growing need to reserve our world’s resources. The college, aligned with the district strategic sustainability goal to “promote practices supporting sustainability including social, environmental and economic vitality”, further realizes that internal and external partnerships are critical to the advancement of the sustainability agenda. Moreover, in these tough economic times, working to achieve financial savings without impacting the quality of student learning experiences and services, the district colleges have utilized sustainability principles in facilities planning to gain cost savings. Additionally, consistent with the college’s mission of preparing students to live in a dynamic world while transforming lives and communities, the college has engaged students in their sustainability efforts.

Partnerships and the Educational Agenda

Integrating Sustainability into Curriculum

CVC is piloting a program, Q-TIPS Certificates
(Quality Teaching In Practical Sustainability), certifying instructors in integrating sustainability principles in courses they teach and tracks the College’s progress in promoting, directing, managing, and implementing green principles throughout various curriculum across the campus.

Instructors can document their inclusion of sustainability modules in their curriculum or participate in a presentation designed to help instructors with integration of sustainability principles using classroom examples shared by colleagues.

The pilot program supports the College and district wide goals of infusing sustainability and assessing classroom strategies.

At CVC, external and internal partnerships have been important to the development of programs that prepare individuals for green careers. For example, partnerships with Texas A & M University and the U.S. Department of Energy were important in establishing Cedar Valley’s Residential Building Performance program, one of the first of its’ kind in the country. This program was also supported by TXU utilities (presently Oncor).

The Residential Building Performance Technology and Commercial Building Performance Technology programs include stackable curriculum so that a student has the opportunity to take discrete courses, efficiently complete a certificate, or move from the certificate program(s) to an appropriate degree program depending on their professional and/or academic goals. Program courses are available online with portions of the courses available face to face.
  • Residential Building Performance Technology Rater certificate – 21 credits
  • Residential Building Performance Technology Specialist certificate – 51 – 53 credits (30 – 32 credits plus Rater certificate)
  • Residential Building Performance Technology AAS degree – 61-64 credits (10 – 11 credits of core curriculum requirements plus Specialist certificate)
Continuing partnerships with Texas A & M University and other Texas colleges resulted in the joint development of a new Commercial Building Performance Technology program and a $350,000 State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) grant award utilized to develop a state of the art “energy lab” that allows students and community members to learn more about efficient energy consumption practices through real life experiences. Classes for the Commercial Building Performance Technology program will be offered in 2012.

At CVC, a partnership with the local Dallas County Workforce Development Board and the City of Dallas provided green job training for area residents. Three courses, Commercial Energy Auditing, Weatherization and Retrofitting were designed to train individuals to work on energy efficient projects for the City of Dallas. These courses resulted in certificates of completion totaling 16,800 hours of green jobs training with 60% of the trained participants successfully securing full-time employment with the City of Dallas.

Since the green industry is emerging with technologies that are changing so rapidly, the seven DCCCD colleges have also worked together to improve coordination and synchronization between campuses thereby minimizing duplication and improving ability to forecast the demand of green jobs.

Budget Reduction Efforts

Partnerships across all seven DCCCD Colleges have been utilized to achieve cost saving energy efficiencies. The district facilities leaders, led by the district architect, have worked together to net significant cost saving. Major areas of emphasis include lighting retrofits, HVAC restoration and/or replacements, and roofs and water conservation projects ranging from the purchase of single stream recycle stations to chiller replacement. For example, at Cedar Valley College, utilization of a new silver LEED certified facility, implementation of computer software that conserves energy, strategies to limit HVAC operations on Sunday, use of energy efficient lighting principles, recycling of products in renovation projects resulted over a six month period in savings of over $140,000.

Environmental Impact Initiatives

Efforts of a district-wide “green team” with representatives from all seven campuses have engaged employees and students in programs that resulted in practices to improved waste minimization. Students at all campuses have been engaged in such projects as RecycleMania, a national benchmarking tool designed to contribute to waste reduction. The “green team” also led efforts resulting in district purchasing contracts for sustainable products that are eco friendly. Strong leadership throughout the district has been important to all seven campuses joining the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Each campus completed Greenhouse Gas Reports and Climate Action Plans to assist in reducing emissions. For example, CVC’s last Greenhouse Gas Report revealed a net emission reduction of 23% while the college experienced a 46.5% increase in campus building size and a 22% increase in student enrollment (FTE).

Conclusion - Benefits of Program:

Cedar Valley College and the six other campuses of the Dallas County Community College District are striving to respond to existing and emerging workforce needs and also to global changes that demand adjustments in the way we live and work. The cost saving measures realized pale in comparison to the intrinsic values we experience and appreciate in our world of green and sustainability. Not only is Cedar Valley College engaged in being efficient with its resources, but also, is leading others in the community in green and sustainable practices.

For additional information:
- The Institute for Sustainable Communities at CVC
- CVC’s Residential Building Performance Technology Program (Degree and Certificates)
- CVC’s Commercial Building Performance Technology Program (Certificates)

Ruben Johnson
Executive Dean of Business and Technology
This resource made possible with the generous support from the Kresge Foundation