GCC Wins National Green Genome Award

October 1, 2014

Recognition for outstanding college sustainability and workforce efforts

 When community college leaders from across the United States look for an example of an innovative, effective, and sustainable college, they’ll look to Greenfield Community College. As part of an expanding national effort to support environmentally sustainable practices, programs, and job training at the nation’s almost 1,200 community colleges, Greenfield Community College is one of five exemplary community colleges to be presented with an American Association of Community College (AACC) Green Genome Award today.

The Green Genome Awards, created by AACC’s Sustainability Education and Economic Development Center (SEED), are evaluated in four key areas critical to holistic green college transformation: community engagement, governance, program design and delivery, and strategic partnerships. Greenfield Community College is recognized as the Overall winner, demonstrating excellence in all four key areas. That excellence can be seen in GCC’s academic programs in Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency and Farm and Food Systems, on-campus photovoltaic solar panels and permaculture garden, campus-wide composting and recycling, collaborations with many community partners, and campus leadership that considers sustainability in its decision making. Greenfield Community College will be awarded $7,500 plus a set of state-of-the-art Bahco brand Snap-on tools and horticulture equipment. The awards are sponsored by Snap-on.

Greenfield Community College President Bob Pura said, ““As the primary organizing body of community colleges of the United States, AACC knows and understands community colleges across the country. We therefore are most honored and lifted by this recognition. I am so very proud of all of the people in the College and the Community who made it possible for AACC to recognize GCC with this award. It is great to get acknowledged for demonstrating best practices by an organization that is so well informed. What this award also does is encourage us to work harder and aspire to even higher standards.”

Other winners of this prestigious award include:

  • Gateway Technical College, Wisconsin (Strategic Partnerships)
  • Lane Community College, Oregon (Governance)
  • McHenry County College, Illinois (Community Engagement)
  • Moraine Valley Community College, Illinois (Program Design & Delivery)

“AACC is thrilled to recognize colleges like Greenfield Community College that have not only prepared a skilled workforce, but have also become change agents in regional efforts to develop a green and sustainable economy,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC President and CEO. “Through the SEED Center, AACC is providing community colleges an important roadmap to connect and integrate campus sustainability practices and clean economy-related education and workforce development.”

“This national award will not only equip GCC with state-of-the-art equipment but also with additional capital to boost their already successful program,” said U.S. Representative Jim McGovern. “This award is further proof that GCC is a national leader in the field of sustainable and renewable energy education and workforce development.”

GCC Faculty/Staff Respond to the Green Genome Award

Teresa Jones, Program Coordinator for GCC’s Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency (RE/EE) Program

As a community college, GCC has been able to serve as facilitator to bring together the remarkable talent and passion from our region and grow sustainable practices from the ground up. Our programs and activities reflect hundreds of hands, minds and hearts. Our work brings together big-picture ideas and the literal nuts-and-bolts of building energy systems, planting food, working side-by-side with different people toward common goals. We know that it’s a perpetual work in progress and we thank our students, especially, for helping us to ‘walk the talk.’ I’m thrilled with this acknowledgement of our collective achievement.

Peter Rosnick, Adjunct Math Faculty and Director of SAGE – Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy Education Center

The SAGE (Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy) Education Center at Greenfield Community College – “where science, workforce development, and civic responsibility meet” – bridges the work of the Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency and Farm and Food Systems Programs along with related offerings of GCC’s Department of Workforce Development. Through the work of the SAGE Center, GCC is addressing three of the most compelling issues of our time – climate change, job security, and social justice. We are teaching students how to protect the environment and are helping them get good green jobs. In addition to honoring the work the college does in sustainability, The Green Genome Award very significantly and specifically honors the ninety community businesses and organizations with whom the RE/EE and FFS programs partner.  This award recognizes the entire community.

Montserrat Archbald, Green Campus Committee Chair

So much of the work we do on a daily basis is small and incremental—it’s great to be recognized as part of a much larger movement at GCC and colleges across the country.

Abrah Dresdale, Faculty/Coordinator of Farm and Food Systems program

I believe in working at a college that takes a whole systems approach to sustainability, where an institution chooses to leverage its position to demonstrate best practices. At GCC, we have a new bike share program, local food procurement for the dining commons, a green speaker series, and many other examples of sustainability permeating the campus. The Farm and Food Systems program is a liberal arts degree option focused on sustainable agriculture, permaculture, and building resilient regional food systems. We have worked with over 40 community partners, including the Franklin County Jail, where we offer an organic gardening class for incarcerated men; now there is a vegetable garden and fruit trees at the jail! Through a grant from the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts we’re collaborating with grant partners NELCWIT, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, and Seeds of Solidarity to support women in transition to increase their food security and economic independence. The Farm and Food Systems program at GCC teaches about and engages with the interface of sustainability and social justice issues in our community and beyond.

Brian Adams, Professor of Environmental Science

Photovoltaics behind the East Building; a passive solar greenhouse; a permaculture garden; a LEED-certified building renovation; academic programs in Farm and Food Systems and Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency; active and committed faculty and staff. These are some of the reasons why GCC has received this prestigious sustainability award. We have accomplished so much and we have so much more to accomplish.

Christine Copeland, Internship Developer, DOL Transformations Grant and RE/EE Program Assistant

What greater testament is there to the value of our programs than the work of our graduates? They are installing energy systems, diagnosing houses for energy efficiency, creating community gardens – living with quiet passion and conviction as business owners, coop members, employees, interns, volunteers and good citizens. Our graduates express their appreciation for GCC by sitting on advisory boards and inviting students to intern with them. The work builds on itself. They are facing the pressing demands of our future.

About SEED

AACC’s Sustainability Education & Economic Development Initiative, SEED, advances sustainability and green workforce development practices at community colleges by sharing innovative models and free resources to increase the capacity of college leaders, faculty, and staff to build the green economy. The SEED Initiative was created in partnership with ecoAmerica and has received support from the Kresge, Flora Family, and Surdna Foundations and corporate partners Snap-on and Pearson Higher Education. www.theSEEDcenter.org

About the American Association of Community Colleges

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s more than 1,100 community, junior, and technical colleges and their more than 13 million students. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AACC has been in operation since 1920. For more information about AACC and community colleges see www.aacc.nche.edu

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