Green Champions: Honoring Sustainability Excellence at California Community Colleges

In November, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors recognized outstanding colleges and programs for their exemplary efforts in addressing climate change with the 2023 Energy and Sustainability Awards. Established in 2012, and aligned with the goals of Vision 2030, these awards showcase the leadership, innovation, and student-driven initiatives advancing sustainability within the California Community College system.

This year’s awards celebrate excellence across various categories, each acknowledging different aspects of sustainability leadership and achievements. Here are the award categories and winners for 2023:

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Innovative Project (Large District)

  • Mt. San Antonio Community College District’s Student Center: Honored for achievements in sustainable site development, energy efficiency, materials selection, water savings, and indoor environmental quality.
  • Riverside Community College District’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan: Recognized for its comprehensive approach, fostering positive change in the community and environment. The plan integrates social, economic, and environmental dimensions to foster holistic sustainability.

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Innovative Project (Medium District)

  • MiraCosta Community College District: Selected for their ongoing sustainability efforts, notably their 5-year Capital Construction Plan instilling sustainability as a core institutional value. Recognition was also given for their installation of new solar photovoltaic canopies across campuses, projected to offset 80% of the district’s electricity consumption.

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Innovative Project (Small District)

  • Solano Community College District: Honored for their Decarbonization and Resilience Project, setting new standards in renewable energy, decarbonization, energy efficiency, campus resilience, and microgrid development. The project’s impact includes generating over 3.5 million kWh of green energy annually.

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Faculty/Student Initiatives

  • Dr. Tonya Huff, Professor of Biology at Riverside City College: Honored for her contributions to the campus, including implementing a food waste recycling program and championing on-site solar and battery projects.

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Sustainability Champion

  • Hussain Agah, Associate Vice Chancellor of Riverside Community College District: Acknowledged for his role in creating the district’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan and leadership in district-wide solar projects, driving the district towards its sustainability goals.

Excellence in Energy and Sustainability – Climate Action Leadership

  • Dr. Rueben Smith, Vice Chancellor and Chief Facilities Executive of the Los Angeles Community College District: Recognized for his innovative funding model for sustainable projects and for crafting a policy mandating carbon neutrality by 2040 for all nine campuses.

These individuals and institutions serve as inspiration for others to join the movement toward a greener and more sustainable future. By honoring their achievements, the Energy and Sustainability Awards encourage continued dedication to environmental stewardship and sustainable practices throughout the California Community College system. Congratulations to all awarded districts on earning this esteemed recognition!

Riverside CCD from left: Bill Hedrick, Board of Trustees President, Riverside CCD; Dr. Claire Oliveros, President, Riverside City College; Dr. Tonya Huff, Professor of Biology, Riverside City College; Dr. Wolde-ab Isaac, Chancellor, Riverside CCD; Chancellor Sonya Christian, California Community Colleges; Hussain Agah, Associate Vice Chancellor, Facilities Planning & Development, Riverside CCD; Tom Epstein, Board of Governors member; Aaron Brown, Vice Chancellor, Business and Financial Services, Riverside CCD; Amy M. Costa, Board of Governors President; Wrenna Fitch, Vice Chancellor for College of Finance and Facilities Planning
Mt. SAC from left: Bill Rawlings, Board of Governors member; Chancellor Sonya Christian, California Community Colleges; Eera Babtiwale, Special Projects Director, Sustainability, Mt. SAC; Dr. Martha Garcia, President/CEO, Mt. SAC; Laura Santos, Trustee; Tom Epstein, Board of Governors member; Amy M. Costa, Board of Governors President; Wrenna Fitch, Vice Chancellor for College of Finance and Facilities Planning

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