The Seattle Colleges serve all of metropolitan Seattle and its surrounding communities, and comprise the largest community college district in the state, educating nearly 50,000 students each year and employing over 2,500 people. The Colleges owns and operates over 2.5 million square feet of conditioned space. Annually, the district uses over 321,000 therms of natural gas ($272,940 in 2016), 24.5 million kWh of electricity ($2.4 million in 2016), 11,000 Mlbs. of steam ($287,000 in 2016), and 45,000 CCF of water ($795,000 in 2015), resulting in approximately 2,900 MTCO2e of greenhouse gases per year.
Historically, each campus (North, Central, and South) has taken individual courses of action to curtail energy use and cut greenhouse gas emissions. In an attempt to better utilize financial and social capital across the district, the District Office of Sustainability is leading an effort to conduct a district-wide review. Seattle Colleges has partnered with the energy service company (ESCO) McKinstry to identify and prioritize potential energy, water, and greenhouse gas reduction projects across all Seattle Colleges building stock, taking a holistic approach to resource conservation.
One very important aspect of this project and all sustainability-related projects at Seattle Colleges is ensuring this work is creating valuable student learning experiences- giving our students the opportunity to practice sustainability knowledge and skills on our campuses. On February 8th 2017, McKinstry facilitated a project c harrette at our Georgetown campus in order to maximize the student learning experiences related to this project and other sustainability-related projects in the future.
Preliminary charrette objectives included;
a. Identify opportunities to integrate this preliminary infrastructure and energy audit into student learning
b. Identify ways to engage faculty and staff in this preliminary infrastructure and energy audit
c. Better understand sustainability goals at each of our campuses and the district
18 students, faculty, and staff attended the charrette (10 students). Attendees formed groups to discuss;
• What is your vision for sustainability at Seattle Colleges?
• How do we enhance the student experience through sustainability at Seattle Colleges?
• How do we optimize the student experience through facilities and infrastructure?
• What is the 21st century education environment?
• How can the campus environment enhance student learning?
• How do we leverage the energy audit to realize our sustainability goals?
McKinstry is currently evaluating the results of the charrette in order to craft a project charter, which will help create a decision-making framework for infrastructure and energy projects across the district. The District Office of Sustainability is very excited to be working with McKinstry to maximize the student learning opportunities of this preliminary energy audit and future sustainability-related projects at Seattle Colleges. This project will not only reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, but it also serves as an example of how Seattle Colleges can involve students in critical college planning, like infrastructure and energy.