Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2011 by Jim Norrena
Happy Earth Day, CCA!
California College of the Arts is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada, according to The Princeton Review, an education service that helps students select and apply to colleges.
CCA's inclusion in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition reinforces the college's reputation as an exemplary institution of higher education committed to sustainability.
The Guide to 311 Green Colleges, the first and only free comprehensive college guidebook to focus solely on high-ranking U.S. colleges and universities, showcases outstanding commitments to environmental sustainability in and out of the classroom (e.g., environmentally related practices, policies, and academic offerings). The 220-page guide contains profiles of 308 institutions of higher education in the United States and three in Canada, all of which demonstrate a significant commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation.
CCA is one of only two art colleges listed in the guide (Pratt Institute being the other). Our leadership in sustainability is evident. It stems from a value system that adapts to new ways of thinking and designing and learning, an irrefutable benchmark of success. We trust if we continue to lead well, others will follow. See the full list »
CCA President Commits College to Environmental Responsibility
President Stephen Beal commented, "We are pleased to be named as one of the top-ranking green colleges in the nation. At CCA we value sustainability and believe that as a school of the arts we have a unique ability and an ethical responsibility to shape a culture that is more environmentally responsible."
The Guide to Green Colleges, now in its fourth edition, details “the environment-friendly attributes of colleges and universities whose facilities, operations, administration, and curriculum demonstrate an exceptional commitment to sustainability," according to Princeton Review senior vice president and publisher Robert Franek.
How Green Colleges Are Determined
In collaboration with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), college profiles are selected using a "green rating" scoring system. The following three criteria are used:
- whether the college’s students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable
- how well the college is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges
- the college’s overall commitment to environmental issues
According to The Princeton Review’s website 2011 green-rating scores are determined (on a scale of 60–99) based on data from a 50-question survey conducted among hundreds of school administrators about their school's environmental and sustainability-related commitments and initiatives). Of the 703 schools tallied in 2010, those in the 80th or higher percentile comprise the 311 educational institutions featured in the guide. CCA's score is 85.
About the "Guide to 310 Green Colleges"
The Guide to 310 Green Colleges was created out of need The Princeton Review documented based on a survey of 16,000 applicants and parents, of whom 66 percent indicated an interest in learning to what extent a college is committed to the environment. Of the same cohort, 24 percent of respondents revealed such information would very much affect the decision to apply or attend the college.
CCA's Mindful Approach to Sustainability
At CCA sustainability isn't just one practice or a single motto; the college steeps itself in not only tangible measures but also deeply in the philosophy of sustainable design. To better understand how CCA integrates a true embodiment of sustainability, one need only turn to Industrial Design professor Jay Baldwin, widely considered the "godfather of sustainable and ecological design." According to Baldwin, “Nature is not ’multidisciplinary.’ Nature is the whole caboodle. Nature is omnidisciplinary. We need to do things as nature does, in the way that is most economical in terms of resources and energy.”
CCA Green Facts
CCA also excels when it comes to more traditional green measurements:
- 50 percent of food expenditures are on local or organic produce
- 70 percent of appliances on campus are Energy Star–qualified products
- 70 percent of overall waste-diversion rate
President's Sustainability Steering Group Raises the Bar
Since its first audit by The Princeton Review in 2009, CCA has implemented the President’s Sustainability Steering Group (PSSG), composed of students, faculty, staff, and trustees who are charged with aligning and communicating CCA's values about sustainability. Almost all of the initiatives the PSSG has coordinated have emerged out of the curriculum or individual student or faculty work.
“Rather than a top-down mandate, the President's Sustainability Steering Group was created to capitalize on and amplify the sustainability innovation already occurring in the classrooms and studios across our curriculum,” explains Director of Research and Planning David Meckel. ”Steve [Beal] also recognized that we have been out in front of these issues in facility planning and operations—having opened a very large solar-heated campus that is naturally ventilated and lit before LEED was even established.”
Fact: CCA is home to the largest solar-heated facility in Northern California, the Montgomery Building on the San Francisco campus, which was designated as one of the country's top-10 green buildings by AIA COTE (American Institute of Architects, Committee on the Environment). (See History)
The PSSG worked closely with President Beal to identify ways that would showcase the college’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. The effort resulted in President Beal signing several major sustainability accords in 2010:
- American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) — This agreement puts the college on a path to climate neutrality.
- Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education — Institutional membership provides access to educational and research resources geared to advancing sustainability in all sectors of higher education.
- The Talloires Declaration — A 10-point action plan for colleges and universities committed to promoting education for sustainability and environmental literacy.
The PSSG also devised a statement of values that represents the college's core principles in relation to sustainability. These basic tenants are drawn upon frequently to ensure all future growth—curricular, technological, architectural—takes into consideration specified best-practice guidelines.
Sustainability at CCA: An Initiative that Lasts
Today one of CCA’s most distinguishable characteristics is its seemingly ubiquitous commitment to sustainability. Our collective eco-consciousness is evidenced by almost every facet of the college’s operations. Our stalwart efforts to integrate ecological consideration, sustainable design practices, waste-management solutions, and proactive environmental planning all contribute to an innovative mindset that represents our community as a whole.
While it's impossible to list in a single feature every accomplishment that reflects CCA's leadership role in sustainability, the college's Sustainability at CCA section of the website (bookmark it now!) offers an impressive overview of the college's many commitments to sustainability:
Recent Curricular Inititiaves
Each of the following curricular initiatives exemplifies one or more of the established statement of values the President's Sustainability Steering Group has implemented at CCA.
Ecological Theory and Practice (EcoTAP) courses
Fashion Design Sustainability Workshop and Certificate Program
IMPACT Social Entrepreneurship Awards
Leading by Design Fellows Program
Water Works (a science at CCA initiative)
New Courses in Sustainable Practices
"Energy Analysis" is a current Architecture course that represents collaboration among college administrators, faculty, and students to uphold the college's agreement as stated by the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which President Beal signed in 2010. Working as a team, participants are investigating the 25 active facilities that make up the San Francisco and Oakland campuses to audit the energy output of each facility. (Look for the fall feature about this truly impressive undertaking.)
Past & Recent Competitions
Oregon Manifest Constructor's Design Challenge
This competition is a one-of-a-kind design/build competition, in which some of the country’s best custom bike craftsmen and select student teams vie to create the ultimate modern utility bike. CCA’s student team represents a multidisciplinary crew: Industrial Design, Architecture, Fashion Design, Furniture, and the MBA in Design Strategy programs. Faculty members Nicholas Riddle, Colin Owen, Corey Jones, and Rapid Prototyping studio manager Brandon Walker are advising on the endeavor, which will be held September 23–24, 2011.
Levi Strauss & Co. case competition "Closing the Loop on Sustainability"
Students in CCA's Fashion Design paired up with UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business students to compete in a Levi Strauss & Co. case competition on sustainability. The challenge was to find a profitable business solution to address denim waste/reuse. The winning team included CCA students James Zormeir and Jean Saung.
U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon
CCA and Santa Clara University (SCU) competed as Team California to win third place overall in the U.S. Department of Energy's 2009 Solar Decathlon for its energy-efficient, beautiful, and comfortable solar-powered home, titled "Refract House." The team also placed first in the Architecture and Communications contests; as well as second in Engineering, Appliances, and Home Entertainment.
Alumni Success Features
CCA's New Materials Resource Center houses a wide-ranging collection of eco-sustainable materials.
New Books by Faculty & Alumni
Be sure to visit Resources in the Sustainability at CCA section of the website for a list of previously published books written by or recommended by CCA faculty and alumni.
Fundamentals of Integrated Design for Sustainable Building by Marian Keeler (BArch 1990)
(Note: Look for an announcement this fall for Director of Architecture Ila Berman's forthcoming publication that highlights the Refract House project, the winning project in the Solar Decathlon competition.)
See Recommended Resources for additional book titles authored by members of CCA's community that address issues about sustainability. Remember, books and videos that relate to sustainability can be accessed online using the library catalog and typing "sustainability resources" into the search field.
To everyone at CCA: Have a great Earth Day . . . we deserve it!
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