A solar installation at Butte College in California. Butte generates more solar power than any other community college in the country.
in its curriculum, facilities, grants,
and career-development programs.
The setup helps the college organize
student, staff, and community efforts
so that all stakeholders are working
toward the common goal of environmental stewardship. Sustainability is
part of the college’s mission plan, and
it touches every facet of its operations.
Butte recycles 73 percent to 93 percent
of its waste, grows organic fruit, and
uses goats to clear excess vegetation.
“I realized early on that if we were
going to have an impact, we were going
to have to be comprehensive,” says
Van Der Ploeg. “Sometimes it seems
like a big hurdle, but when you plot it
out, it becomes manageable. It’s great
to have a grassroots effort, but to really
make a difference, you need an institutional approach.”
A growing number of community
colleges are taking steps to formalize
their commitment to green living and
sustainability. Last year, the American
Association of Community Colleges
(AACC) formed a Sustainability Task
Force to help colleges reduce waste,
preserve resources, and prepare students for jobs in the green economy.
(For more, see www.aacc.nche.edu/
“I believe that anybody in higher
education has a responsibility to expose
students to as much as they can in
how they might like to contribute,”
says Van Der Ploeg, who serves on the
task force. “Butte started out small, and
we grew and grew and grew. It became
a good example of what you can accom-
plish when you set your mind to it.”
The typical sustainability coordinator
is expected to juggle multiple responsibilities, including facilities management, curriculum planning, applying
for grants, and career training. The
ability to delegate will make these
professionals more effective, but
having these core skills will help:
The work of deciding how to recycle old materials like rooftop gravel
is not always exciting. It helps to
have someone who understands
the benefit of such seemingly
are as multidisciplinary as that of
sustainability coordinator. A good
hire is expected to make friends
in different departments and form
constructive coalitions on campus
and in the community.
•;Persistence.;Creating;new;aca-demic programs or new ways of
generating power or disposing of
waste on campus is hard work.
Some new initiatives will fail, and
these setbacks must be managed
in a way that does not negatively
impact campus morale.
business and science. A coordinator does not necessarily have to
management, but colleges should
look for someone who at least has
a curiosity and a respect for business and academic principles.
job manuals for their sustainability coordinators. A good one will
arrive with a lot of creative ideas
and be able to identify solutions to
problems as they arise.
vision is a good thing, an outright
dreamer may not be able to get
the job done. Along with ideas
about how to move to a more
sustainable future, a good sustainability coordinator will appreciate
the detailed planning required to