Updates from Johnson County Community College: Sustainability initiatives

Green Circle Salon

Curious about Johnson County Community College’s latest sustainability initiatives, achievements and goals? Here’s what you need to know.

2018 Sustainable Campus Index

JCCC was recently highlighted in the 2018 Sustainable Campus Index in the Coordination and Planning section! The Sustainable Campus Index, a publication of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives from colleges and universities that submitted a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) report in the most recent calendar year.

The Center for Sustainability impressed AASHE with its development of a certification protocol for JCCC’s Cosmetology program to become Green Circle certified. Through this partnership, Cosmetology students learned about environmentally responsible practices, and the importance of selecting compostable and recyclable materials. JCCC’s cosmetology program is the first in the nation affiliated with a higher education institution to be Green Circle Certified.

“We are pleased to highlight Johnson County Community College in this year’s Sustainable Campus Index,” said AASHE’s Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “We hope that the efforts and progress made by JCCC will help to continuously advance sustainability within higher education and also help lead to a more equitable and ecologically healthy future for society as a whole.”

Bird Collision Study

On Jan. 20, the Center for Sustainability launched an on-campus bird strike study to analyze the number of birds that collide with buildings. More than 220 birds from 44 different species have been documented.

As part of the study, student volunteers monitor designated routes around campus and record their findings. Faculty and staff are also empowered to contact the Center for Sustainability if they witness a strike. Injured birds are taken to Operation Wildlife for rehabilitation, and birds that do not survive are delivered to the University of Kansas Center for Biodiversity for DNA sampling.

Bird strikes are not isolated to JCCC’s campus. An estimated one billion birds (10 percent of the population) die each year due to this issue. JCCC’s study is one of the most comprehensive in the area, and its data could help inform other organizations as they strive to reduce their environmental impact.
Harvest Dinner

Proceeds from JCCC’s annual Harvest Dinner directly benefit Sustainable Agriculture students. This year’s ticket sales and generous donations from local companies and restaurants contributed to nearly $3,500 in new scholarship funds.

This year also marked the 10th anniversary of the Harvest Dinner and featured Chef Katy Conwell, a graduate of JCCC’s Culinary Arts program and co-executive chef of Stock Hill.

Making Strides in Sustainability

Sine 2008, JCCC has experienced $3.6 million in avoided energy costs. And since 2009, the college has reduced its carbon emissions by 25 percent.

And we’re just getting started. JCCC’s sights are set on future milestones as well:

  • Become a zero waste-to-landfill campus by 2025
  • Make JCCC a 100 percent renewable-energy campus by 2050, with 15 percent achieved by 2020

According to Jay Antle, Executive Director of Sustainability, “Despite the fact that we are by most objective measures successful, it’s never ultimately enough. When you try to reconcile ecology and economy, you never fully get there – you simply move in a positive direction. We are constantly trying to move our college in a direction that makes it more environmentally friendly.”

Follow Sustainability at JCCC

If you’re interested in learning more about JCCC’s sustainability efforts, follow the Center for Sustainability on Twitter and Facebook.