Moving to a greener tomorrow

Sustainability Practices & Initiatives

The Seattle Community Colleges – Washington’s largest community college district – include three comprehensive colleges, a vocational institute and four specialized training centers located throughout the City of Seattle. With more than 50,000 students annually and close to 2,400 employees, the Seattle Community Colleges are among the region’s major institutions, and recognizes a responsibility to be a premier educational steward of the environment.

Recycler of the Year

South Seattle was recognized as a 2006 "Recycler of the Year" by the Washington State Recycling Association for its innovative food-waste recycling program. The college Culinary Arts program was the first in Seattle to collect food waste for composting, which goes to the Cedar Grove facility.

Global Impact

Dr. Don Belcher, MD and Mary Sitterley, Nursing Instructor meet with a patientThe Seattle Community Colleges also promote sustainability in its international outreach efforts through its annual Global Impact programs in countries such as Tanzania, Peru, Vietnam and India. In addition to providing health care outreach, participants are actively involved in infrastructure projects that promote community health and which are green in nature: installing composting toilets and water filters; building efficient stoves in the homes of villagers currently heating and cooking over open fires; establishing organic farming plots for orphanages and garden plots and worm bins for village homes. (

Seattle Climate Partnership

Logo for Seattle Climate Action NOWAs members of the Seattle Climate Partnership, the Seattle Community Colleges established a baseline carbon footprint in 2008 and will evaluate results at the end of 2009. Each campus has implemented active recycling, commute trip reduction, alternative transportation, and energy reduction programs. Students at all of the campuses are actively involved in sustainability initiatives.
(Seattle Climate Action NOW)

 Energy-efficient Facilities

Retrofitting - While all new construction at the Seattle Community Colleges is built to LEED standards, older areas of the campuses have been retrofitted to conserve energy. For example, occupancy sensors in many rooms turn lighting off when the room is vacated and on again when the room is occupied.

System upgrades - North Seattle has completed system upgrades resulting in reduced electrical consumption and cost savings. The projects qualified for Seattle City Light’s rebate program, and cash rebates were awarded to the college as a portion of the electrical savings achieved by the project. Campus electrical bills have dropped steadily from $612,000 in 2005-06 to $532,000 in 2008-09 (13% savings).

Energy audit - At Seattle Central, a complete energy audit is measuring energy systems during the 2009 cooling and heating season. Previous system updates have resulted in significant cost savings ($350,000 in 2005-06) and reduced consumption over the years. The college Engineering Department designed the internal utility management system and continues to evaluate and modify the system to maximize energy efficiency.

Gas conversions - South Seattle has converted its diesel mowers to 99 percent biodiesel and has a biodiesel station onsite. The college has converted gasoline carts to electric and is in the process of converting a micro-truck to plug-in electric.

Green gardening - South Seattle is developing a one-acre garden on campus using Permaculture Design and sustainable agricultural methods.

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