2020 Sustainability Report shows college’s progress toward zero-waste goal

Austin Community College (ACC) continues its work toward its goal of becoming Zero Waste by 2040 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. In May, the college presented its 2020 Annual Sustainability Report to the Board of Trustees.

The report highlights ACC's commitment to LEED-certified building projects. Currently, two campuses are recognized as LEED-Gold Certified (San Gabriel and Highland Phase 1) and three are LEED-Silver Certified (Round Rock, Hays, and Elgin). To help conserve energy and water, ACC's Facilities & Construction Department is improving lighting with LEDs and sensors, installing water-saving plumbing fixtures and rainwater/AC condensate reclamation, and using municipally recycled water for landscaping.

As of June 2020, two ACC campuses — Round Rock and Elgin — will operate on 100 percent renewable energy. Other renewable energy efforts include solar panels on eight campuses, which have saved the college $130,000 in energy costs, and solar benches at Cypress Creek and South Austin campuses.

ACC has been a pioneer in Electric Vehicle charging stations in Central Texas since it received a federal grant in 2012; EV charging stations can be found on all campuses. The college continues to promote alternative transportation options, such as Green Pass and Green Car, and bike ridership by installing batwing bike racks and repair stations.

The college is a little less than 50 percent of the way to its zero-waste goal by 2040. To help divert waste, ACC has:

  • Installed two- or three-bin trash/recycling/compost systems on campuses
  • Specialty recycling programs - pen and marker recycling was a huge success, styrofoam
  • Green fountains - at least one per building
  • Held 54 zero-waste events with a diversion rate of 80-90 percent

Finally, ACC practices sustainable purchasing by reusing or repurposing furniture items or, if neither is an option, donating them instead of sending them to a landfill.

For more information about ACC's Sustainability efforts, visit the Office of Energy & Sustainability webpage.