By Brian Pharies and Amanda Wich
Pikes Peak Community College’s Office of Sustainability is the first and only office of its kind in the Colorado Community College System (CCCS).
Originally given a five-year term, the Office of Sustainability was under pressure to perform well for students and faculty and appeared to follow a green technology path. At the time of inception, students paid a sustainability fee of $0.35 per credit hour. Presently the $0.37 fee is rolled into their tuition to maintain the program. This made PPCC the first and only community college to have a funded sustainability program.
In 2016, the end of the first five-year term, PPCC students voted 71% in favor of continuing the funding of the Office of Sustainability, according to Sustainability Coordinator, Konrad Schlarbaum.
The Office of Sustainability has accomplished several successful programs and events including Earth Week which covers various sustainability topics, Thrift Shop Prom where second-hand clothes are the focus, the Trash Art Competition where trash can be recycled into works of art, and participation in Creek Week Clean-up and Adopt-A-Waterway.
Adopt-A-Waterway entails adopting a section of Monument Creek and cleaning it up three times a year. Sustainability also helps clean Fountain Creek as part of Creek Week Clean-up.
Sustainability’s newest project is a garden at Centennial Campus adjacent to the Paragon eating facility in the courtyard. The garden consists of fifty or more different kinds of plants, fruits, and vegetables. Students can check out the garden in the courtyard.
Recycling is a primary focus at PPCC’s campuses, and with an improving program, the bins have received an overhaul on most campuses. Many trash cans and recycling bins are now single stream bins conveniently placed next to standard trash cans to simplify the process of recycling.
“When in doubt, toss it in the trash,” Schlarbaum said. Emphasizing that food, liquids, and things that come in contact with them must go in the trash not the recycling.
Longer-term goals, according to Schlarbaum, include getting approval for an officially sanctioned Sustainability Office, working on a grant from El Paso County that would allow indoor vertical gardens, and creating smaller waste stations for the Learning Commons at Centennial Campus.
Students wanting to get involved in PPCC’s sustainability efforts, should consider joining the Sustainability Club. Visit ppcc.edu/sustainability for more information.