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Departments earn green certification

By Sinoti Iosua, staff writer
On March 15, 2014

  • Comets first baseman Byron Buckley waits for the ball to reach his glove and Viking infielder slides to first base during CCC's game against Laney College at the Baseball Field on Thursday. Qing Huang / The Advocate
  • Old light fixtures and ventilation systems were replaced with “eco-friendly” equipment. Christian Urrutia / The Advocate
  • Its green certification has been put on “hold” until it relocates to the new Campus Center at its projected completion date of fall 2016. Christian Urrutia / The Advocate
  • Hazardous chemicals from motor oil changes, brake fluid and other maintenance is collected and taken to a proper facility for disposal. Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

Being one of the first campuses in the nation to have a collision and repair department green certified has brought about a new mindset on becoming more environmentally friendly at Contra Costa College.
Peter Lock, automotive services professor and department chairperson said, "To be green certified means that a particular facility operates with different rules and techniques to dispose, use and operate in an eco-friendly way, while using less energy and potentially saving a large chunk of money."
Currently, the automotive department and Buildings and Grounds are the only green certified programs on campus, while the custodial and culinary arts certification stands at a halt. "The long-term goal of embracing this eco-friendly shift is for the entire campus to one day become green certified," Lock said.
Culinary arts department Chairperson Nader Sharkes said his department is putting the certification process on hold, as they are waiting to relocate to their new facility once the construction of the new Campus Center is complete in 2016.
Wasting limited resources on newer kitchen appliances that are going to be replaced within two years is one of the main reasons the culinary arts department will remain patient and hold the process, Sharkes said.
He said his department already follows the green certification rules and has an organic garden where he and students grow their own vegetables. Another eco-friendly way in which the culinary arts department contributes is by composting scraps of food and used organic materials collected throughout the day.
The custodial department, on the other hand, is still waiting for paperwork to be finalized before it can attain certification.
Buildings and Grounds is only one of the two green certified departments that have already begun to make changes, such as maintaining ventilation at cool temperatures and replacing old light fixtures with low-mercury fluorescent lighting.
The automotive department became certified in March 2010. It has paved the way for all other campus departments that have already started using more green ways of cleaning and operating, Lock said.
Before the green push, if any oil spills took place, the automotive department would wash away the spill. Now, the department owns a vacuum that sucks up and contains spilled oil, which saves the drains from leaking any more oil into the San Pablo Bay.
Shop equipment assistant James Gardner said that they want to instill a green mindset into their students so when they are out on the job they will know the correct procedures to execute the task given while using the least amount of resources and energy.
Some of the ways they have become more eco-friendly are by re-using the backsides of scratch paper, composting debris and maintaining a clean outdoor space, Gardner said.
The relationship between green and safety is emphasized within the automotive department in hopes of making students become aware of their surroundings, not only in the auto body shop but around campus as well, he said.
Cutting back half of the energy and resources being used will not only help the environment, but will help the school's budget as well, he said.
"Understanding the importance of becoming green certified is starting to root its way onto campus. As humans, we should care about the state of the planet we live on," Gardner said.
Reuse, reduce, recycle and rot are the four most valuable R's when it comes to becoming environmentally friendly, which is what CCC hopes to see more of in the future, he said. 


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Residents of San Pablo, CA that are looking to save on energy costs should explore adding a home solar panel system to their house, as this will also help to increase their green footprint.

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