AACC supports green college


Photo by Courtland Brown-Tabscott

Political science major Piper Lewis helps to maintain one of the many rain gardens around campus.

Piper Lewis, Digital Editor

AACC’S Arnold campus is home to dozens of environmentally friendly features.

Joyce Dawson, assistant director of facilities planning and construction, said the college has programs to reduce water pollution, conserve energy and recycle.

The cultivation of rain gardens around major storm drains on campus reduces water pollution, Dawson said. The rain gardens are strategically placed to collect water from heavy rains before chemicals and dirt wash into drains, she said. 

Dr. Jessamy Rango, an AACC biology and environmental science professor, said the rain gardens “are one of the coolest things about our campus.” 

“They are awesome,” Rango said. “[They’re} a great opportunity for students to participate in the green efforts.” 

AACC students, under the supervision of Dr. Susan Lamont, maintain the rain gardens around campus.

In addition, AACC reduced its water user by 42 percent in the library by installing low-flushing toilets, motion-activated sinks and a rooftop rain garden.

The roof-top garden, he said, uses rain water and condensation from the building’s HVAC unit to sustain plants called sedums, which help control water runoff. 

Dawson said the 75,000-square-foot Andrew G. Truxal Library has reduced its energy use by 50 percent since AACC remodeled it according to LEED standards. The campus won a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certificate in 2015 for the remodeled and expanded library.

The renovated library reduced its energy use with technology that automatically keeps the indoor temperature at 70 degrees, and by automatically adjusting light levels to compensate for the level of natural light, Dawson said. 

Devin Valcich, an environmental science major, said the library is “cool … because of all the efforts we are taking to make it green. The school I transferred from didn’t have that, so I appreciate it.” 

Outdoors, solar panels cover Parking Lot B as part of Project Sunburst. The project has saved AACC more than $50,000 since the installation in 2011. The solar arrays generate 5 percent of the energy the campus needs.  

AACC encourages students and staff to be mindful of the impact each person can have on the environment. 

Campus bus stops encourage students to take advantage of public transportation. Additionally, the campus features multiple bike racks; charging stations for electric cars; and recycling bins around campus. 

“I was here five years ago,” Adam Schoen, who is taking an environmental class, said. “Just in that time, I notice[d] a lot more plant life and efforts toward being environmentally friendly.”