At GCC sustainability has many definitions, but underlying each is the desire to achieve and maintain the environmental, economic and social well-being of our world, both today and for future generations. Sustainability influences the way our courses are taught, the way our buildings and landscapes grow and change, and the way we live and work in them. For these reasons and more, Greenfield Community College has been awarded the 2013 Leading By Example Award from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.
GCC has a commitment to sustainability in many ways, including how our buildings perform. In September of 2008, the College installed a new high efficiency HVAC system at its Downtown Center location, resulting in an approximate 41% reduction in heating and cooling costs. Our new core is designed for day-lighting, infusing light and warmth into a space that is a community hub for the college. The new building automation systems allows us to schedule and manage the buildings energy systems in a more energy efficient way. A one thousand square foot greenhouse will become zero-net-energy with planned additional passive and active systems.
Renewable energy generation
The past six years have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of power generated on campus using renewable means. Six geo-thermal wells provide cooling to the core of the building. Pellet burners and solar thermal systems provide heat and hot water for the East building. Active solar thermal and passive solar energy systems provide heat for the greenhouse and a planned PV array will provide its electricity. Our 78KW system produces electricity equivalent to the use of 15-20 average homes. Learn more about our photovoltaic panels »
A 1/8th acre student designed permaculture garden connected to the greenhouse graces the south side of the main building. These integrated spaces along with a planned one acre Botanical/Geological/Permaculture garden enhance learning opportunities in plant and environmental science, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and inform the landscape and entrance to the south end of the building. The permaculture garden, including its organic annual vegetable plot, educates students about this growing sustainable agriculture practice and supplies food for the cafeteria and college based Food Pantry. A composting initiative is expanding and ultimately will amend on-campus garden soil.
The Green Campus Committee was established in 2004 and is made up of faculty, staff, and students who care deeply about GCC and its role in the natural environment and the community.
Our mission is to advocate for policies and practices that create a greener campus, from GCC’s physical plant to its educational programs. We want to make GCC a community leader in environmental sustainability. Toward this end, we promote the following:
- environmental awareness and education through staff development, advocating green curricula and program development, supporting natural sciences and social sciences consistent with our vision, and facilitating interdisciplinary learning related to the environment
- the use of sustainable energy and energy efficiency measures at all levels in order to reduce the college’s carbon footprint
- comprehensive recycling and composting
- local and environmentally preferable purchasing, including farm-to-school
- the creation of a deserved green image for GCC in the community
- collaborative work with the physical plant and the integration of green practices into the institution as a whole