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Sustainability Curriculum and our Journey Toward Carbon Neutrality. Sustainability as a Core Value at GRCC. Sustainability as a Value at GRCC Goal: Development of Sustainability Curriculum at GRCC GRCC - Members of Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)

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Sustainability Curriculum and our Journey Toward Carbon Neutrality

Sustainability as a Core Value at GRCC


Sustainability as a Value at GRCC

  • Goal: Development of Sustainability Curriculum at GRCC
  • GRCC - Members of Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
  • Goal: Carbon Neutral Campuses
  • GRCC – Signatory of the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC)
  • Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report
  • Climate Action Plan

Thank You to Dr. Gary Burbridge for his leadership in Sustainability

Thank You to our Sustainability Council Members:

Raul Alvarez Gary Burbridge Deborah Chivis David Dye

Ann Earhardt Dr. Ender Mindy Firlan Bill Foley

Dan Gendler Vicki Hudson Vince James Lynne Jarman-Johnson

Leigh Kleinert Eric Kunnen Klaas Kwant Maryann Lesert

Mansfield Matthewson Bruce Morrison Dorothy Sadony

Brian Shultz E Smith Tom Smith Patti Trepkowski

Ric Underhile Mike Vargo Nicholas Wikar Sara Yob


Sustainability is a new value of the College

“Sustainability – We use resources in responsible ways to achieve balance among our social, economic, and environmental practices and policies.”


How we define and apply sustainability at GRCC

We regard sustainability as a crucial form of innovation that provides a framework by which we can improve the well-being of all living things and the health of the planet through education, modeling best practices, networking with other institutions of higher education, while also discovering and developing new methods to elevate sustainability.

In order to ensure that our efforts produce the desired outcomes, we focus on achieving new levels of sustainability through the lens of the triple-bottom line: economics, environment, and social equity.

We strive to achieve sustainability through our efforts in developing curriculum that challenges our students to apply their learning and adopt these practices into their daily lives, integrating sustainability through our facilities management and operations, along with meaningful, long-term community engagement.


Sustainability is a Cultural Value of our Region

In 2005, the City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Public Schools, and Aquinas College formed a Community Sustainability Partnership to embrace and support sustainability guiding principles in their planning and operations, and to make a positive impact in our community.


Sustainability is a Cultural Value of our Region

In 2006, the City Commission adopted a planning and performance measurement process that includes all City services. It began measuring the achievement of outcomes in relation to sustainability - the triple bottom line - economic prosperity, environmental equity, and social equality. What was once known as the City of Grand Rapids' Strategic Plan has evolved into City of Grand Rapids' Sustainability Vision Statement.


Sustainability is a Cultural Value of our Region

In 2007, the City of Grand Rapids and the Community Sustainability Partnership received the first U.S. designation by the United Nations University as a Regional Center of Expertise (RCE) in Education for Sustainable Development. Today there are over 190 members of the Partnership, who are committed to work together to restore environmental integrity, improve economic prosperity, and promote social equity.


Sustainability is a Cultural Value of our Region

In 2008, Fast Company called the City of Grand Rapids, America’s Greenest City.

In 2010, Grand Rapids has been named the most sustainable midsize city in the U.S. by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Civic Leadership Center and Siemens Corp.


Sustainability is a Value of our GRCC

GRCC Facilities and Operations in Sustainability

This past October, we reached a saving of over $1.5 million dollars in utilities in the first 27 months of the Energy Conservation Program and ongoing partnership with Energy Education Inc.

The savings have resulted in an environmental impact equivalent to removing 1,415 cars from the road, planting 201,633 tree seedlings and growing them for 10 years, or reducing 7,884 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.


Sustainability is a Value of our GRCC

GRCC’s Innovation Challenge

This past fall, the Employee Professional Development and Enrichment along with the Rewards and Recognition Team began the Innovation Challenge, which this academic year focuses on energy use at GRCC. Specifically, "How can we reduce our energy costs so that we can use these savings to benefit programs that support student success?"


Sustainability is a Value of our GRCC

Grand Rapids Community College Construction Program was the first to build a Gold LEED certified home for Habitat for Humanity in the United States. Sustainability is not a trend for us….its a way of life.

GRCC was featured in the October / November issue of Community College Journal, “Green-jobs training prepares students for career success”






Innovation Process

Teams-based approach

Innovation Funnel

Innovation Stage Gate

Post Launch


Adoption = Innovation

Request for the Development of additional Sustainability Curriculum, Courses, Certificates, and Degree Programs


Identifying Sustainability in our Curriculum

“Sustainability education refers generally to learning experiences that enable students to develop the knowledge, behaviors, and skills to help create healthier ecosystems, social systems, and economies.”

-- Source: SEED Center

(Sustainability Education & Economic Development),

created by the American Association of Community Colleges


GRCC Programs or Courses Currently Available or In Development:

Degree Program

Alternative Energy Degree

Credit Courses

Architectural Technology

AR 105 – Construction Materials 1

AR 106 – Construction Materials 2

AR 208 – Design Studio: Commercial Building Design

AR 218 – Sustainable Residential Design

CHM 170 – Energy Storage Technology

EC 270 – Introduction to Environmental Economics

ER 140 – Introduction to Renewable Energy

ER 160 – Introduction to Geothermal HVAC Systems

SUS 201 – Introduction to Sustainability

SUS 292 – Seminar in Sustainability

EN 102 – English Composition 2 (with special focus on sustainability)

EN 293 – EcoLit & Activism: Modern Environmental Literature

Non-credit Programs

Job Training – Residential Construction and

Job Training – Green Construction Remodeling

Job Training – Composite Technician

Wind Safety Program

Wind Turbine Technician Program

Solar Photovoltaics Program

Eleuthera Field Study in Sustainability – Study Abroad (C/NC)

Deconstruction Program

Pathways to Prosperity Grant Program

Non-Credit Courses and Seminars

Green Advantage – Environmental Certification

What is Energy?

Root Camp – Getting Ready to Garden

Institute for Healing Racism


This past September, we completed two Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reports.

2007-2008: 40,356.8 Metric Tons of Carbon Emissions

2008-2009: 39,951.9 Metric Tons of Carbon Emissions

Lansing Community College

2008-2009: 82,300 Mtons

Washenaw Community College

2008-2009: 27,804 Mtons


2011 – Begin the design and development of our Climate Action Plan

Current Goal – GRCC to achieve carbon neutrality by 2052



  • Curriculum: A motion to support curriculum development for sustainability programming (certificates and courses).
    • Please assess your department’s current curriculum to identify existing courses that provide education regarding sustainability, and please notify me of these offerings.
    • Please ask faculty in your department if they are interested in developing curriculum, certificate programs or courses, that either enhances existing curriculum, or creates new curriculum, and please notify me of interest within your department.
  • Climate Action Plan: A motion to support the education and facilitation of continuously reducing our carbon emissions to achieve carbon neutrality.