Campus becoming more environmentally friendly

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By: Britney Phippen


CPCC has begun to move in a direction that will expose what the college is doing on matters concerning the environment and sustainability, said Ernie McLaney, CPCC program coordinator for the Futures Institute.


CPCC’s Futures Institute launched its brand new Center For Sustainability November 2008, said McLaney.


The center has four major goals, to increase awareness, conduct continuing education training, provide training sessions for professionals, and to increase perspective, according to the centers’ website. All of these goals will focus on environmental sustainability, said McLaney.


The center established an external board of advisers from the community to help in their specific areas, said McLaney. Some of the members are from the Sierra Club, solar energy companies, green-business development consultants and county officials, he said. “These advisers are helping us understand what the community needs for training and classes.”


“One thing the CFS is going to do internally at the college is shine the light on what we are doing well that people do not know about,” said Mark Helms, CPCC’s associate dean of Student Life and Service-Learning.


The problem that the center is running into is reputation because nobody knows about it, said McLaney. The centers recognition began after asking questions about what the college was doing from an environmental and a sustainability standpoint, he said. “I put out feelers, and when I gathered all the information, it was roughly 15 to 20 pages of stuff that this college was doing that was environmentally friendly.”


The college submitted an application to the “Charlotte Business Journal’s” annual Green Awards event, said McLaney. “Low and behold we are going to get recognized on April 16th at the event.” The college will be recognized as a non-profit educational organization, he said. “This just goes to show that if we can put stuff together we can get recognized.”


The center, along with many outside organizations, will host the first annual Charlotte Clean and Green event April 19 through 21 at Central Campus, said McLaney. “It is the very first Charlotte Clean and Green, and nobody knows what it’s going to be like,” he said.


“This event is different than any Earth Day event we have ever had because it is aimed more as an educational event,” said McLaney. The CC&G will have 30 exhibitors, three bands, and will have an Earth Fare and Grateful Growers food event, as well as CPCC’s culinary students selling desserts, and more, according to the CC&G website.


The center will also have a tent, as well as CPCC’s horticulture program selling plants and some activities for children, said McLaney.


When it Comes to Recycling, We’re NOT Convinced

“From where our students sit, and even many of our employees and faculty, it doesn’t look like the college does very much,” said Helms. The main reason is because the college does not collect and recycle bottles and aluminum cans, he said.


“We have not done very well collecting the stuff that you all as students put your hands on most days,” said Helms. This makes people feel as though the college does not collect anything, he said.


The college is meeting the minimum requirements by the city and state for recycling which is 10 percent, said McLaney. “We do not think that is good enough. We want to do more, period,” he said.


The truth is that the college does a lot of good recycling behind the scenes in the areas people just do not know about, said Helms. CPCC has a scrap-metal recycling program, recycles all the cardboard from the bookstores and uses grass-cycling in lawn maintenance, he said. “Those things that are kind of invisible to most of our students we do fairly well.”


In the Overcash Center, there are many duel trash cans equipped with one side for regular trash and one side for recyclables, said Jennifer Conway, CPCC Student Life coordinator.


The housekeeping staff assists in taking out the trash and recycling, said Conway. The issue has been brought up that these recyclables are being thrown in with the rest of the trash, instead of being properly disposed of, she said.


“We are not totally convinced that the staff that does the collecting are actually recycling and not putting it in with the other trash,” said McLaney. The problem is that there is no one supervising them, he said.


“I am in the process of writing a contract that I hope will be in place for the next fiscal year that will assist us with collecting the bottles and cans,” said Jeffery Friar, CPCC executive director of facilities management. CPCC is trying to recycle more, said Friar. The logistics are very difficult for a business to get glass, aluminum and plastics from your hand, out into the recycling bins and picked up by a recycling company, he added.


“Appearance is everything; we want people here to think we are being good citizens in that way,” said Helms. The college is very excited about the new housekeeping contract in regards to recycling, he said.


Bring the Wildlife Back


The center is also concerned with the fact that Charlotte is losing 41 acres of land a day to development, said McLaney. This is the primary reason for all six of CPCC’s campus’ wildlife habitats, he said. Both Central campus and Harris campus have wildlife habitats that are certified by the National Wildlife Federation and the other campuses are getting close, he added.


“The whole purpose for them is to increase awareness and educate people to the fact that wherever we are, in our homes, at work or at school, you can do things that give back to the environment,” said McLaney. The overall hope is that with little planting here and there, the college will help make the wildlife come back, he said.


By doing these wildlife habitats, CPCC hopes to show people that just a change can help people co-exist with nature more effectively, said McLaney.


CPCC’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society members met at Central campus April 12 to have a day of grooming, planting and cleaning of the wildlife habitat, said Conway. “PTK is trying to keep that a nice place to go and visit.”


Got Biodiesel?


The Center For Sustainability is not the only area at the college helping with the environmental issues, said Helms. Facilities Services has added a few hybrid cars to their motor pool, he said.


“I’m really proud that we have got these cars in the fleet. They have been good vehicles and the people really like them,” said Friar. The motor pool consists of four cars, two of which are Ford Escape Hybrids, he said.


“Another thing I did when I first came on was make all of our service vehicles have diesel engines,” said Friar. The goal was that these vehicles could run on biodiesel, he said. However, the closest place to buy biodiesel happens to be Shelby, he added. “I had hoped that we would get a biodiesel gas station in Charlotte. Unfortunately this has not happened.”


The college is really coming around, and the community will hopefully look toward CPCC through the center, as a way to learn how to do things better when it comes to the environment, said Helms.