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PR#246 June 16, 2009  


Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) is the first community college in the nation to sign an environmental stewardship agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agreement, which was signed June 16 at RVCC's North Branch Campus, pledges the College's commitment to reduce its carbon footprint and generally contribute to a better environment.

"Raritan Valley Community College is taking a huge step to reducing its campus greenhouse gas emissions," said EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. "Campus life and the environment will be improved by the commitments the College is making today."

"The RVCC community has demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting the environment. Last year, we became one of the first community colleges in the nation to rely on co-generation to power our campus, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and reduced carbon dioxide emissions. This landmark agreement lays the foundation for RVCC to become a national leader in promoting environmental responsibility on college campuses," said RVCC President Dr. Casey Crabill.

The agreement focuses on the College's commitment to continuous improvement using EPA programs to develop policies, practices and specifications for environmental efficiency standards; increasing stewardship awareness; remaining current with EPA regulations and guidelines; increasing involvement and recognition of RVCC's stakeholders in environmental sustainability programs; partnering with local government on environmental initiatives; and addressing environmental concerns swiftly.

The College's combined heat and power plant, which opened in August 2008, is saving the College an estimated $400,000 a year in energy costs. The College was awarded a $1 million incentive grant from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities' Office of Clean Energy for the power plant improvements.

The power plant is one of a host of eco-friendly initiatives recently launched by RVCC as part of a comprehensive effort to "live green."  Some of these initiatives include:

* Increasing the supply of recycling containers on campus
* Upgrading lighting to make it more energy-efficient
* Installing occupancy sensors in offices and classrooms to reduce electric usage
* Installing an air-to-air heat exchanger in the Science Building, which captures the waste heat from exhaust fans and preheats the fresh air coming into the building
* Mounting solar-powered traffic signs and scoreboards
* Installing high-efficiency hand dryers in rest rooms
* Landscaping the Science Building steps with sustainable vegetation
* Recycling kitchen waste to a composting site

"Our students, through such groups as the Social Justice Club, the Raritan Environmental Action League and RVCC Cares, have been instrumental in the campus' efforts to live green and take care of the environment," Crabill said. "Our students led the drive to improve our recycling efforts and eliminate plastic trays and Styrofoam cups in the Dining Hall. Students have been involved in outdoor clean-up efforts, adopt-a-highway, tree planting and Earth Day projects."

As part of RVCC's commitment to protecting the environment the College's Director of Facilities and Grounds recently obtained certification as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional.

RVCC is also in the process of conducting an energy audit of every building on campus. The audit will result in the most complete inventory of energy-using devices and systems on campus, as well as offer suggestions on becoming more cost-effective. The College received a $70,000 grant from the Office of Clean Energy to help pay for the audit.

As part of the agreement, RVCC will participate in a number of the EPA's environmental stewardship programs, including:

* ENERGY STAR Building & Planting Partnership to reduce energy usage on campus
* WasteWise Partnership to encourage recycling of various materials, including glass, aluminum and bi-metal containers, paper and cardboard
* National Clean Diesel Campaign & Clean Construction USA to reduce emissions from vehicles and other internal combustion engines used in construction and operation of its facilities
* WaterSense Products, which promote water efficiency

RVCC, located on Route 28 and Lamington Road in North Branch, NJ, and serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for 40 years, offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates. In addition, customized training programs and non-credit courses are available for those seeking personal and professional development.

The College is committed to offering a quality and affordable education through effective teaching, liaisons with the community's businesses and state-of-the-art technology. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu .


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