CCCC Students for Sustainability work to protect the environment
PITTSBORO - Biofuels entrepreneur Lyle Estill collects the compelling stories of leading activists in the sustainability movement in his book "Small Stories, Big Changes: Agents of Change on the Frontlines of Sustainability."
Estill and other contributors are set to speak at Central Carolina Community College's Pittsboro campus on Nov. 21 as part of the Sustainability Speaker Series. The series is just one of many successful projects sponsored by the college's Students for Sustainability Club (S4S).
Formed in 2011, the purpose of the S4S club is to provide fellowship and learning opportunities for members and to increase sustainability awareness on CCCC campuses and within the community.
The club adds impetus to the college's mission to increase sustainability system-wide through practices like providing access to transportation through ride sharing and other methods, introducing flexible course offerings and alternative formats, building sustainable infrastructure, and reducing energy costs through sustainable practices.
The college participates in the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. CCCC has completed the emissions inventory and is in the process of completing the mitigation plan required by the ACUPCC.
CCCC is also a participant in the American Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). The system provides a transparent framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.
CCCC student Shaun Jones, a building contractor and S4S Club member, put it best when he described his own feelings about sustainability practices.
"As I sat in class and listened to everyone talk about sustainability, I realized there are so many students who are here for a cause, and I merely was here to further my career and financial benefits for my company," he said. "Listening to them and receiving my carbon footprint, I realized I needed to do more."
Jones said the most interesting thing he learned was that if the population lived as he did, it would take four and one-half Earths to sustain the ecological impact.
"The reality is, it's only one Earth," he said. "I'm energized to know more, do more, and pass the encouragement on to others. Change is hard, yet it is necessary and viable to slow the damage and correct our behavior."
Members of the S4S Club share Jones' enthusiasm. CCCC Sustainability Program Coordinator and Lead Instructor Laura Lauffer said the club's strengths are the members' passion to increase sustainability in their communities by working on conservation issues on campus, such as recycling efforts, and participating in the annual Earth Day events.
During Earth Day, the students display their conservation projects and create a dialogue with the public about various conservation efforts. In addition to the Sustainability Speaker Series, S4S members conduct campus tours highlighting the college's sustainability practices and participate in other related campus events.
"Like Shaun, many students come to our program to learn about the technical aspects of green building and renewable energy," Lauffer said. "When we discuss personal responsibilities surrounding conservation issues, they begin to understand that they have a role to play in reducing pollution, harnessing waste and participating in community issues."
One of the goals of the S4S Club is to increase volunteer efforts in the community. Students are volunteering with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Conservation Council of North Carolina, a statewide organization dedicated to protecting North Carolina's environment and natural resources.
"The students want to be seen as helpful participants in our community by putting the 'community' in community college," Lauffer said. "The idea is to put our ideals into practice and help other organizations meet their sustainability and conservation goals."
On Nov. 21, when the public gathers for the S4S Sustainable Speaker Series, they will listen to the compelling stories of people who have moved the sustainability initiative forward through their own individual efforts - biofuels leader Lyle Estill; Gary Phillips, who fought the encroachment of real estate developers in Chatham County; Tim Toben, who built the most energy efficient building in the southeastern United States; and Elaine Chiosso, who has fought for the protection of the Haw River watershed for decades. Like the S4S members, each represents an important chapter in the movement to protect natural resources.
For more information about S4S and the Sustainability Program at Central Carolina Community College, contact Laura Lauffer, Sustainability Program coordinator and lead instructor, at 910-545-8032 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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