Press - 01/7/2014

MiraCosta College is Getting Greener

Three years ago, the MiraCosta Community College District launched a comprehensive master planning effort to establish model environmental practices at its three campuses. In January 2011, we created a Sustainability Advisory Committee composed of students, faculty, staff and administrators to oversee and guide the endeavor. Our bold vision includes becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.
 
Our vision is coming to fruition. A growing number of courses are incorporating sustainability issues into their curriculum, our students continue to be engaged in various environmental efforts, and our campuses are employing creative sustainability practices. Among the more recent facility successes is a pilot project in the staff parking lot at the Oceanside Campus that has resulted in energy efficient LED lighting. Tom Macias, MiraCosta College’s director of facilities, notes the college is planning to get all of its lots equipped with LED lights within the next 12 months.
 
To help further save energy, so-called “cool roofs” that reflect the heat from the sun – and lessen the demand for air conditioning – have been installed in two classroom buildings at the Oceanside Campus.

4900And MiraCosta College’s new $1.9-million modular science building (left) that was installed at the Oceanside Campus on June 17 is equipped with photovoltaic power and is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Level-worthy. 
 
“It’s completely sustainable,” Tom Macias said of the structure that includes 3,360 gross square feet of science labs and classrooms.
 
Meanwhile, campus parking lot lights are now turned off at 11 p.m. instead of running them all night.
 
Efforts are not just limited to our facilities. The Design Department, which includes courses in drafting, architecture and engineering, is teaching sustainability concepts in many of its courses. The Horticulture Department has created a sustainable horticulture class and the Physical Sciences Department offers courses on climate change.

Students also are taking the initiative. The Engineering, Architecture and Design Club has assembled a vertical garden (pictured below) that catches rainwater falling onto a roof, stores it in a container and distributes it into the soil using a solar-powered pump. And more than 2,200 MiraCosta College students take part in a discounted bus pass program through the North County Transit District (NCTD) that gets people out of their cars and onto public transportation.
 
vertical garden“The college has made great strides and excellent progress in this area the past two or three years,” said Design Department Chair Paul Clarke.
 
Ongoing efforts have led to MiraCosta College receiving honorable mention in the 2013 California Community Colleges Board of Governors annual Energy and Sustainability Award Program in the category of “Excellence in Energy & Sustainability – District Leadership.”
 
In a 30-plus year career that began as an environmental health and safety engineer, Tom Macias has seen sustainability efforts come and go. “It’s here to stay this time,” he said. “For one, building codes have changed to require greater energy efficiency. And there has been a cultural shift to where people realize this is the right thing to do.”
 
In fact, the college’s Comprehensive Master Plan states that MiraCosta College will endeavor to create campuses as “living labs,” “develop strategies to minimize environmental impact,” and “promote the District as a leader in habitat preservation.” Our strategic plan states “MiraCosta Community College District will become a vanguard educational institution committed to innovation and researched best practices, broad access to higher education, and environmental sustainability.” And among the district’s institutional objectives is to “develop and implement environmentally sustainable policies, practices, and systems."
 
MiraCosta College is proud to report that it is meeting its objectives and will continue to adopt sustainable practices and reduce its carbon footprint.

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