Sustainability

Sustainability

NATIONAL ACCOLADES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Raritan Valley Community College’s unique educational programs and sustainability initiatives demonstrate its ongoing commitment to preserving the environment and have placed RVCC at the forefront of this rapidly developing field.

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH EPA

RVCC was the first community college in the nation to sign an environmental stewardship agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The College pledged to reduce its negative impacts on the environment, to raise awareness within its academic community and the surrounding community, and to serve as a model for sustainable, environmentally friendly practices. 
 
RVCC’s partnership with the EPA has resulted in reducing energy, water, and solid waste production across campus operations. The EPA has estimated that the College reduced its carbon footprint by the equivalent of 22,579 metric tons in the first five years following the signing of the memorandum in 2009. The College accomplishes its environmental stewardship goals through a variety of on-campus initiatives that range from solar power to electric-car charging stations to organic lawn management, all of which are detailed in the Campus Sustainability Projects section below.

ENVIRONMENTAL ACCOLADES

Carbon Neutral
The College has significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations. By installing a cogeneration plant, upgrading to high efficiency HVAC equipment and lighting, and building to LEED Silver or Gold construction standards, RVCC has reduced emissions by over 50% since 2007. The College purchases carbon offsets and renewable energy credits to offset the remaining emissions from on-campus fossil fuel usage (scope 1) and purchased electricity (scope 2). In 2017, RVCC became the first two-year college in the country to be carbon neutral. The College was carbon neutral for scopes 1 and 2 from 2017 through 2020 and then again starting in 2023.

AASHE STARS Gold Rating – 2022
RVCC has been lauded for its campus sustainability efforts by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). RVCC has earned a STARS Gold rating for its efforts, according to AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). RVCC now ranks as #1 overall for two-year colleges in the US for its sustainability efforts. The College also ranks extremely high nationally among community colleges in a number of areas, including the #1 school in the country, with a perfect score, for sustainability research (for its Center for Environmental Studies); #1 for academics (for research and learning outcomes); tied for #1 for water use and rainwater management, with perfect scores for both (for River Friendly commitments); #3 two-year institution, with a 97.25% score, for sustainability learning outcomes; #3 for energy; and #4 school for air and climate, due to the College’s energy efficiency initiatives and purchasing of carbon offsets and renewable energy credits.

River Friendly Certified – Since 2011
In 2022, the New Jersey Water Supply Authority (NJWSA) recertified RVCC as a “River-Friendly Business,” celebrating the College’s efforts to promote clean water and a healthy ecosystem in New Jersey’s Raritan River Basin. RVCC staff, members of the Environmental Club, and other students have improved stream riparian corridors, native plant communities, and wildlife habitat on campus by planting native trees and pollinator plants, seeding a wildflower meadow and native grasses, and maintaining deer exclosures and no-mow areas. The College also installed a second rainwater harvesting system and hosted Eagle Scout projects to install bat-houses, a rainwater irrigation system for the Enabling Garden, and a nature trail. RVCC worked directly with the NJWSA on its River-Friendly certification. In addition, the College's Center for Environmental Studies interns Haley Weber and Allyson Schmeider performed stream-side buffer assessments.

Bee Campus USA – since 2016
In 2016 RVCC became the first college in New Jersey, and the 15th in the country, to be certified as a Bee Campus USA affiliate. The Bee Campus USA designation recognizes educational campuses that commit to raising awareness and to enhancing habitat to support pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds, and bats, among thousands of other species. The College developed a list of pollinator-friendly native plants and follows an integrated pest management policy.

Green Ribbon School – 2016
RVCC was one of 11 colleges and universities in the nation honored with a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Postsecondary Sustainability Award in April 2016. The College was honored for its leadership in sustainable education, programs, practices, and facilities.
 
New Jersey Governor's Environmental Excellence Award – 2013
In November 2013, the State of New Jersey honored RVCC for its commitment to significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions with the 2013 New Jersey Governor's Environmental Excellence Award (Clean Air category). The Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards are the state's premier environmental awards program for recognizing outstanding environmental performance, programs, and projects in the state.

CAMPUS SUSTAINABILITY – PROJECTS & PEOPLE

The College is increasingly incorporating sustainable practices into various projects and ongoing operations to help create an environmentally friendly campus. Go on the Eco-Scavenger Hunt" to learn more about many of the College’s sustainability projects, including: 

  • Campus Infrastructure: Sustainable elements are an integral part of RVCC’s campus infrastructure, from the solar powered Arts Building to the nearly zero-waste construction of the Science Center addition. 
  • Recycling and composting: RVCC's recycling facilities in public spaces and within faculty and staff offices help to create a more sustainable campus by keeping our recyclable refuse out of landfills, rivers, and oceans. Watch this fun student-created video for tips on how to properly sort your waste on campus.
  • Gardens: The 240 acres of land surrounding the College contain natural spaces and gardens that beautify the campus, support study, reflect respect for the environment, and serve as vehicles for meaning.

Campus sustainability initiatives are the product of a united effort by the Facilities & Grounds Department, college administrators, staff members, teaching faculty, students, interns, alumni, and community partners. These folks work together with the goal of promoting a culture of sustainability on campus and across the curriculum, supporting civic engagement, and serving as a model and as a resource for members of the community through outreach and educational events.
 
For more information, contact Brian O'Rourke, Executive Director of Facilities and Grounds, at brian.o'rourke@raritanval.edu.

ECO-SCAVENGER HUNT

Check out the clues on the eco-scavenger hunt map (click on the blue pins) and see if you can guess what's there. Stumped? Go visit in person!

Latest News From Campus

News Releases Students Receive National Honors with United States President’s Volunteer Service Award Posted Monday, April 15, 2024
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Link to Students Receive National Honors with United States President’s Volunteer Service Award
News Releases RVCC to Receive Sapling from Original Tree Mentioned in Anne Frank’s Diary Posted Friday, March 29, 2024
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Link to RVCC to Receive Sapling from Original Tree Mentioned in Anne Frank’s Diary
News Releases “Giving Day” Raises over $154,000 for Students, Athletic Teams, Centers, Critical Programs Posted Thursday, March 28, 2024
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Link to “Giving Day” Raises over $154,000 for Students, Athletic Teams, Centers, Critical Programs