November 15, 2023
Contact: Melissa Villarin
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Community Colleges Board of Governors has recognized a select group of innovative college leaders and programs with the 2023 Energy and Sustainability Awards for their ceaseless efforts in combatting the impacts of climate change in line with goals spelled out in the recently adopted Vision 2030 strategic plan.

“California’s community colleges are committed to the climate action benchmarks set out in Vision 2030, as we have ample opportunities to reduce carbon emissions from college facilities and operations,” said Board of Governors President Amy M. Costa. “Innovative programs such as those being recognized this year decrease energy demand, reduce waste and set the standard on implementing sustainable practices.” Amy Costa

The Board of Governors Energy and Sustainability Awards were established in 2012 to honor leaders and exemplary energy and sustainability efforts at the California Community Colleges. This year’s awards, presented at the November Board of Governors meeting, has special significance in Vision 2030, which calls on California’s community colleges to lead in climate action in workforce development and daily operations.

Chancellor Sonya Christian lauded not just those being honored, but all who are determined to realize climate action goals contained in Vision 2030. “Our colleges are well beyond raising awareness of the impacts of climate change and are now designing and implementing programs and projects such as those being honored that are mitigating the impacts of the harm our planet has suffered. I, and everyone in the California Community Colleges, salute the work that is being done.” Sonya Chistian

This year’s award categories are Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Innovative Project for large community college districts, medium-size districts and small districts (two districts tied for top honors among large districts). Awards also were presented for Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Faculty/Student Initiatives, Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Sustainability Champion, and Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Climate Action Leadership.

Following are brief summaries of awardee achievements:

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Innovative Project (large district)

  • The Riverside Community College District Sustainability and Climate Action Plan was lauded for taking a comprehensive sustainability approach while fostering positive change for the community, the environment and future generations. The strategy extends beyond environmental aspects to include social and economic dimensions.
  • The Mt. San Antonio Community College District’s Student Center on the Mt. San Antonio College campus was selected for outstanding achievements in five key areas of environmental health: sustainable site development; water savings; energy efficiency; materials selection; and indoor environmental quality. 

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Innovative Project (medium district)

MiraCosta Community College District’s sustainability efforts were selected in large part for its 5-year Capital Construction Plan establishing sustainability as an institutional value and goal, along with projects such as new solar photovoltaic canopies at its campuses that will offset 80% of the district’s electricity use.

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Innovative Project (small district)

Solano Community College District’s Decarbonization and Resilience Project was selected for setting a new standard for renewable energy, decarbonization, campus resilience, microgrid development and energy efficiency. Among the impacts: generating more than 3.5 million kWh of green energy to the campus and utility grid annually.

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Faculty/Student Initiatives

Riverside Community College District’s Dr. Tonya Huff. Dr. Huff’s achievements include implementing a food waste recycling program at the RCC Cafeteria, playing a key role in in building on-site solar and battery projects at district sites, and working to develop associate degrees in sustainability.

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Sustainability Champion

Riverside Community College District’s Hussain Agah. The district’s Associate Vice Chancellor was instrumental in creating a Sustainability and Climate Action Plan and districtwide Solar Project. In June 2023, the district’s governing board approved the Climate Action Plan, a milestone in its sustainability journey.

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Climate Action Leadership

Los Angeles Community College District’s Dr. Rueben Smith. Dr. Smith, the district’s vice chancellor and chief facilities executive, crafted a policy mandating that the district’s nine campuses become carbon neutral by 2040 and an innovative approach to securing long-term funding supporting sustainable projects and green jobs.

To view pictures of the sustainability awards presentation, please visit our sustainability awards photo collection.

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges serving 1.8 million students per year. California community colleges provide career education and workforce training; guaranteed transfer to four-year universities; and degree and certificate pathways. As the state’s engine for social and economic mobility, the California Community Colleges supports the Vision for Success, a strategic plan designed to improve student success outcomes, increase transfer rates and eliminate achievement gaps. For more information, please visit the California Community Colleges website or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.