TMCC is green in more ways than one. On Wednesday, April 22, the U.S. Secretary of Education named TMCC a 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Postsecondary Sustainability Awardee. “This is a culmination of three years of work that truly celebrates what TMCC--at all of our locations—are doing in the realm of sustainability,” said Kreg Mebust, who co-chairs the Sustainability Champions Committee, the on-campus entity that worked diligently to submit the application for this award.
TMCC is the only educational institution in the state of Nevada to have been recognized by the U.S Department of Education for this honor, and since the inception of the Green Ribbon School award, the Nevada Department of Education acknowledges that TMCC is the first applicant to represent the state. There are only five postsecondary institutions across the country that received the award this year.
This award recognizes that TMCC is powered by one-hundred percent renewable energy, and since 2016, has been a member institution of Second Nature when it joined the Resiliency Commitment. Additionally, the college works to improve the health and wellness of students and staff, and provides effective environmental and sustainability education, incorporating STEM, civic skills and green career pathways for its students.
“Sustainability is at the forefront of our institution’s priorities,” said TMCC President Dr. Karin Hilgersom. “This past year, TMCC reached one of our benchmarks of being powered completely by renewable energy. This award is yet another accomplishment that demonstrates our commitment to comprehensive and innovative practices, partnerships, and initiatives to confront climatic changes from the ground-up. We are committed to sustainable energy, facilities, health, and learning.”
It Takes a Community
The process of applying to be a Green Ribbon School is not an easy or simple one. “The process of gathering information to submit for this award really took a community to make it work,” said Mebust, who remembers creating a Canvas platform as a clearinghouse to collect input from every aspect of TMCC on ways that the college is working to be sustainable. “Everyone was really open to helping us out… and really, this application process provided us with a platform to tell all the great stories about how we are truly a sustainable campus community.”
After gathering a considerable volume of information, Mebust worked with Faculty Sustainability Advocate and Program Director for Equity, Inclusion, and Sustainability YeVonne Allen and WebCollege Support Specialist Natalie Fisher to curate and organize the information. They were assisted by TMCC Counselor Melanie Purdy who also contributed by editing the application and by Executive Director of Facility Operations and Capital Planning Dave Roberts and his team who also provided important input.
“It was truly a community effort,” said Mebust.
The rest, as they say, is history: TMCC’s Green Ribbon status reflects the hard work and dedication of many facets of the institution who have worked to make TMCC’s green status not only a school color but a reality.
“Being Nevada’s first U.S. Dept of Education Green Ribbon School is an honor. This designation was thanks to years of campus-wide sustainability initiatives, faculty from multiple departments integrating environmental pedagogy, and a supportive administration. Kreg Mebust, TMCC Faculty Sustainability Advocate, did an amazing job putting together this comprehensive application that made TMCC shine! Thank you to everyone that helped make this happen,” said Allen.
TMCC Shines... Green!
A benchmark study conducted by NV Energy stated that the college is using less energy than other institutions in the same climate conditions, and has improved every performance from November 2009 to October 2014. Additionally, there are ample opportunities for students and staff to participate in sustainability activities through the Sustainability Champions Committee, the TMCC Green Team Campus Initiative, the Wellness Committee, student clubs like the Gardening Club, or through support services, such as TMCC’s food pantry, Wizard’s Warehouse. The TMCC Equity, Inclusion and Sustainability Office leads efforts to cultivate an inclusionary environment that honors diversity and integration.
“We also have a President who really believes in the environment. This award was possible because she supported us along the way,” said Mebust.
TMCC joins 39 schools, 11 districts, and five post-secondary institutions across the United States who will be honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 27 states. The selectees include 28 public schools, including three magnet schools and four charter schools, as well as 11 nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2020 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.
A tentative awards ceremony is scheduled for August 4, 2020, in Washington D.C.
For more information about the Green Ribbon School designation, see the list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities as well as their nomination packages. Or, read the 2020 report with highlights of the 55 honorees. There is also additional information on the federal recognition award.