July 14, 2024

Award Recognizes College’s Green Practices

Green Practices

A commitment to Green Practices has led to recognition for the College of Southern Maryland, which has earned a 2019 EcoLeadership Award.

The Alliance for Workplace Excellence chose CSM as a recipient of the award. It was presented to CSM, along with 16 other businesses and organizations from across the country, at AWE’s 20th annual awards celebration June 7 in Gaithersburg.

“To be considered for the AWE EcoLeadership Award, CSM was required to demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability,” said CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy. “CSM was subjected to a comprehensive and rigorous assessment process led by an independent review panel of academic and business professionals. Eco-friendly policies and practices attract talent, increase productivity, reduce costs, improve employee morale and loyalty, and – most importantly – help protect the environment.”

The college established an Environmental Sustainability Committee, chaired by CSM Financial Services Vice President Tony Jernigan, that provides leadership in the college’s green practices. Membership for the committee includes staff, faculty, and students, representing all of CSM’s campuses.

A program of which the college is most proud is its Bee Campus USA designation, announced last year. CSM was the first community college in Maryland and second college overall in Maryland to receive this designation, adding to the college’s list of Green Practices.

The Bee Campus USA is a coalition of colleges that works to restore native plants, pollinators, and the sites’ indigenous ecosystems. CSM has participated by creating landscaping with native plants that feed native pollinators, using a minimum of herbicides and insecticides, and providing educational opportunities that increase public awareness of the value of these kinds of activities.

“It’s all about creating a pollinator-friendly environment,” said biology Professor Paul Billeter. Mr. Billeter instigated the college’s effort to participate in the Bee Campus program. The college wants to create habitat that encourages pollinator diversity and abundance. These include bees, butterflies and other helpful insects, as well as birds and bats.

“The immediate reason for the college’s involvement is that reversing long-term human impacts and restoring degraded local ecosystems is important to us,” Professor Billeter said. On a different scale, two of the major requirements of participation in the program are planting pollinator-friendly gardens and educating the public. Gardening is the No. 1 hobby in the USA, and CSM is an important center of education in Southern Maryland.”

CSM’s is working together on this effort with the Chaney Foundation, Eatwell Natural Farm, Southern Maryland Audubon Society, University of Maryland Extension/Master Gardeners, and the Xerces Society.

Other eco-friendly efforts at the college that contributed to the AWE EcoLeadership Award include:

  • More than 4,000 LED fixtures have been purchased and installed at the college since 2016, resulting in an 85 percent reduction in energy use.
  • Four water filling stations have been installed on all four campuses to decrease use of one-use plastic bottles. The ESC and student associations have given away re-usable bottles to increase awareness of the program. Since installation, an estimated 75,000 plastic bottles have been diverted from purchase and waste disposal.
  • Recycling has been encouraged by providing easy-to-identify bins.
  • Paper use has been cut by moving hundreds of employees to an electronic timesheet process, no longer printing pay advices and implementing an online expense reimbursement program and purchasing card process.
  • CSM trash cleanup events are held twice a year to raise awareness and engage faculty, staff, and students.
  • In 2017, the cafeteria discontinued the use of Styrofoam and replaced it with environmentally friendly products.
  • Last year, CSM transitioned to a 100 percent green chemical cleaning system.
  • The number of online courses offered has increased. On average, four of 10 students take at least one credit course online.
  • The CSM College Store recycles textbooks through buyback and rental programs. In FY18, 3,200 textbooks were reused through these programs.
  • All new construction is designed to meet LEED certifications. In 2018, CSM received LEED Gold for its Regional Hughesville Campus Center for Trades and Energy Training Building.

In announcing the AWE EcoLeadership Award to the college, Dr. Murphy thanked CSM Division of Financial and Administrative Services Executive Assistant Jennifer Everhart and CSM Director of Compensation & Benefits in Human Resources Raquel Brooks and other staff members who collaborated to finish the process required for the AWE EcoLeadership Award, as well as all the CSM employees who contribute to the college’s eco-friendly workplace.

The Alliance for Workplace Excellence is a non-profit organization founded in 1999 by Discovery Communications, Mental Health Association, and Montgomery County, MD. For the past 20 years, AWE has been dedicated to empowering employers to foster excellence in the workplace as a means of supporting quality of life for employees, their families, and the community at-large. For more, visit the organization online.

In addition to the 2019 AWE EcoLeadership Award, the college won the Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award in 2016 for its environmental sustainability efforts. For more information about CSM’s eco-friendly initiatives, visit the college’s website.

For more about the College of Southern Maryland, visit its Leader member page.

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