Climate Action Plan

The Austin Community College District is committed to promoting and practicing responsible environmental behavior. ACC has been rolling out numerous sustainability initiatives designed to shrink its environmental footprint and increase awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship.

The blueprint for implementing this college-wide transformation was created in February 2009 by the ACC Board of Trustees with the passage of Sustainable Practices Policy C-9.
That same year, ACC joined the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). By signing the pledge, ACC agreed to take actions to move the college toward climate neutrality. The climate action plan is a key step in that goal.

Over 100 Mitigation Strategies are listed in the following categories.

Energy Conservation

  • Develop space utilization plan to improve efficiency of the building usage
  • Maximize "daylighting" in classrooms with proper shading
  • Comprehensive energy audit of all facilities
  • Complete building retro-commissioning for all facilities
  • Establish re-commissioning schedule for high-energy-use equipment
  • Install sub-meters and monitoring system at the electrical-panel level
  • Replace parking lot and security lighting with LED or other energy-efficient lighting
  • Develop a sustainability checklist for all facility improvement projects
  • Invest in software that will manage the powering-down of the college's computers when they are not in use
  • Install occupancy sensors in all buildings for lighting and HVAC control
  • Install energy-efficient lighting in all buildings
  • Retrofit HVAC units and improve HVAC efficiency
  • Evaluate HVAC control systems to minimize run times for fans and equipment
  • Improve fume-hood ventilation systems (variable air volume, heat recovery and energy efficient filtering system)
  • Replace obsolete chiller, boilers, A/C units and electrical motors with more energy efficient models
  • Replace older exit signs with LED exit signs
  • Establish an energy management policy
  • Establish an energy conservation competition among campuses
  • Conduct a building automation performance study
  • Establish sustainable procurement guidelines for all energy-using equipment
  • Hire a college energy manager
  • Establish energy-saving procurement standards for food service vendors
  • Establish facility standard for temperature set points
  • Remove personal appliances from offices

Renewable Energy

  • Seek funding to install renewable alternative energy sources on campuses.
  • Engage in a long-term renewable energy contract or on-site generation partner program
  • Incorporate renewable energy technologies training courses into new building and remodeling of existing buildings
  • Purchase green power from local utility provider
  • Set minimum renewable energy standard for new buildings
  • Invest in renewable and alternative energy projects
  • Purchase renewable energy credit (RECs) to offset college's carbon footprints

Water Conservation

  • Install water-saving plumbing fixtures in campus bathrooms and faucets
  • Undertake a xeriscape project to convert current landscaping
  • Administer a landscaping policy that takes into account natural irrigation, drought-tolerant grasses, etc.
  • Implement rainwater and A/C condensation collection for all new and major renovation projects
  • Install irrigation meters and save city's wastewater charge; reinvest the savings
  • Install and utilize city's reclaimed water pipe (purple pipe)

Resource Management

  • Conduct a waste audit
  • Volunteer-based assessment of the college's recycling practices
  • Expand e-signature adoption
  • Paperless board agenda
  • Expand recycling to include additional materials such as glass
  • Promotion of reusable water bottles/containers
  • Expand installation of Green Fountain (water bottle fillers)
  • Participate in "Recyclemania"
  • Encourage use of online and e-materials for classroom and operational use
  • "Scan to Email" library service to reduce printing
  • Electronic library databases
  • Paperless courses
  • Initiate a pilot composting program at the Culinary Arts Program
  • Work with vendors to decrease packaging
  • Implement on-campus compost for cafeteria food waste
  • Develop off-campus compost partnerships with organizations such as those being explored with the City of Austin
  • Designate Styrofoam-free zone in Culinary Arts dining room
  • Adopt a waste-reduction policy
  • Annual recycling and waste reporting
  • Implement a college-wide double-sided printing policy
  • Establish sustainable purchasing guidelines for all kitchen purchases
  • FSC-certified office paper
  • Establish procurement standards for food service vendors that include recycling, sourcing and waste reduction

Food Service Guideline

ACC supports sustainable food service program that economically supports environmentally sustainable food service as a way of contributing to the economic vitality, environmental sustainability, and quality of life in the region. ACC's recommended Food Service Guidelines are as follow;

  1. Sustainable Food and Beverage Purchasing
  2. Grown and processed locally (within 100miles radius from Austin, TX or Central Texas)
  3. Third-party certified (USDA Certified Organic, Marine Stewardship Council Blue Ecolabel, Food Alliance, Fair Trade, Certified Humane Raised and Handled)
  4. Tray-less Dining
  5. Vegan Dining
  6. Non-Trans-Fat Cooking
  7. Pre-Consumer Food waste Composting
  8. Postconsumer Food Waste Composting
  9. Recycled content Napkins
  10. Compostable Serving Ware(Compostable Dish, Fork, Knife, Spoon, Cup and etc.)
  11. Reusable Container Discounts
  12. Reusable To-Go Containers
  13. Food Donation

Education and Outreach

  • Create green partnerships within the community
  • Design and implement a core sustainability course
  • Create sustainability training or certificate programs
  • Integrate sustainability concepts into courses
  • Create LEED certification education and accreditation courses
  • Enhance the sustainability website to promote energy conservation and sustainability, including tools and tactics for reducing environmental impact
  • Create consolidated database for current classes that are sustainability-focused or have a sustainability theme to align curriculum offerings
  • Promote college's sustainability philosophies to incoming students by making sustainability information available at orientation
  • Provide professional development opportunities for faculty and staff
  • Develop signage to promote sustainable practices
  • Develop a holistic sustainability campaign targeted to reduce behavioral impacts of campus community
  • Develop internships, work study, special projects and courses that support climate neutrality and sustainability
  • Partner with local businesses and community organizations on sustainability activities
  • Create sustainability-driven events and promote sustainable practices at other college events
  • Track and publicize campus energy use
  • Add a sustainability statement on college materials
  • Develop energy dashboards to show students how they are performing as a campus
  • Create college's standard sustainability and climate change language and include it in all purchasing RFPs and RFQs
  • Develop an energy awareness program
  • Biannually monitor GHG emissions and progress and report publicly (as required by ACUPCC)

Transportation Demand Management

  • Promote online virtual meeting management
  • Promote virtual classrooms and IT supports for faculty and staff
  • Promote reduction of airline miles to conferences, meetings, etc. Evaluate feasibility of using alternative means of attendance (online, IT-based) for nonessential conference/air travel
  • Create a timeline and financing plan, in partnership with other departments, to attain an emission-free fleet
  • Introduce alternative fuel vehicles into district fleet
  • Implement bike sharing program
  • Conduct a fleet-use study
  • Implement an anti-idling policy for fleet vehicles
  • Work with the City of Austin to enhance Austin's alternative fuel infrastructure
  • Evaluate feasibility of four-day work week
  • Evaluate on-campus and near-campus amenities including local day care services to reduce mileage
  • Conduct annual commuter surveys of ACC faculty, staff and students to create baseline data and study trends
  • Create a transportation awareness campaign
  • Organize commuter-challenge-month event
  • Promote the redevelopment of surrounding areas and encourage students and employees to live, work and play in this area; advocate for sustainable transportation options
  • Promote and enhance a ride-share program
  • Evaluate inter-campus shuttle service
  • Implement bike friendly campuses, including bike racks, shower facilities, and bike lanes
  • Research opportunities to bring ZIP Cars or similar business models to campuses and surrounding areas
  • Develop methodology to purchase carbon offsets for college air travel
  • Work with Capital Metro to improve transit routes between campuses
  • Expand and promote Green Car parking spaces