Sustainability runs deep in community college curriculum

Haywood Community College has been recognized for its cutting-edge work in promoting environmental sustainability by the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

“Haywood Community College has a robust history, dating back to 2006, of demonstrating sustainable technologies in the classroom, college operations, and community initiatives — and these relationships elevate sustainable practices on campus and in the greater community,” said Rose Johnson, president of Haywood Community College.

Haywood earned the distinction in large part through its public/private-sector and community partnerships — and for allowing those partnerships to influence students’ coursework.

The college’s partnership with private developers, for instance, led to the creation of an associate’s degree in low-impact environmental development. Another partnership with U.S. Forest Service Wood Products Laboratory researchers allowed the college to construct the area’s first Habitat for Humanity green home. The construction of a sustainably-built home by construction students on campus underscored Haywood’s commitment to green construction practices and technologies.

Other examples include: wetlands and native grass reclamation projects on campus and in the community; biofuel production using recycled oil from the local public schools; installation of solar panels on campus and in the community; and training workers from a community action agency to retrofit homes of low-income residents to make them more energy efficient.

“The way that Haywood puts its students to work on projects that will both improve the community and augment their classroom education should serve as a model for every other institution of higher learning in the country,” said Anthony D. Cortese, president of Second Nature, the lead supporting organization of the group. “One central goal of the ACUPCC is to get everyone to think systemically about the relationship between sustainability and education. Haywood is doing a remarkable job.”

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