ACC Celebrates Commitment to Sustainability and First Green Building

ACC celebrated its commitment to sustainability at the dedication of its first green-rated building.

The Green Ribbon Cutting at the Rio Grande Garage

The Green Ribbon Cutting at the Rio Grande Garage

The Rio Grande Campus parking garage, which opened this semester and provides more than 500 new spaces, earned a 3-star Green Building Rating from Austin Energy, which awards the rating for the design, construction, and operation of sustainable buildings.

Austin Energy presented ACC its 3-star recognition on Thursday at the college’s Great Big Green Get-Together, an event honoring the garage team’s achievement and the college’s pledge to reducing its impact on the environment.

 ACC’s commitment to green actually started with blue.

Blue recycling containers began popping up in more places across ACC’s campuses last year, fueled by students encouraging the college to expand its recycling program and become more environmentally friendly.

That movement got a big boost in February, when the ACC Board of Trustees passed a policy directing the college to incorporate sustainability in all operations and projects. ACC hired a director of environmental stewardship, Andy Kim, to guide the initiatives.

Sustainable construction is one of Kim’s passions.

“I’m an architect, and architecture is living art that needs to coexist with the earth,” said Kim. “Sustainability will be an integral component of future ACC growth.”

It was definitely an integral component of the Rio Grande garage construction. The team managed to divert 80 percent of construction waste from landfills for reuse or recycling. Almost all of the construction materials came from within Texas, reducing transportation expenses, fuel consumption, and pollution. The construction materials included 40 percent recycled content.

ACC President Dr. Stephen Kinslow accepts the 3-star green building recognition from Austin Energy's Dr. Liana Kallivoka.

ACC President Dr. Stephen Kinslow accepts the 3-star green building recognition from Dr. Liana Kallivoka of Austin Energy.

“A 3-star rating is very impressive,” said Dr. Liana Kallivoka, with Austin Energy’s Green Building program. “It shows a true dedication to sustainability. Austin Energy is excited to continue working with ACC as the college continues its sustainable construction efforts.”

ACC showcased other sustainability initiatives at the Green Get-Together as well. Students and faculty had a chance to find out more about Green Pass, a pilot program starting in January that gives Capital Metro bus passes to students, faculty, and staff at no cost to them. Capital Metro was on hand to help ACC students and employees determine the best ways to get from campus to campus.

“We need everyone’s help to create a sustainable ACC,” said Kim. “Green Pass is one easy way to get on board.”

Bicycle Sport Shop also took part in the event, with advice on how to efficiently and safely commute to campus on a bike. For those who drive low-emission, fuel-efficient vehicles, ACC began the Green Car preferred parking program this fall.

Addie Broussard, an environmental science major, applauds the college for rolling out a variety of sustainability initiatives.

“It gives me another reason to boast about how great it is to be part of ACC,” said Broussard, a member of Students for Environmental Outreach. “What we’re doing helps raise awareness, and that’s the first step to protecting the planet.”

ACC does more than practice the sustainability message – the college also teaches it, offering courses in areas such as solar technology, wind power, green building, and weatherization.

“We are at the forefront of the push to educate Texans for these 21st century jobs,” said Dr. Hector Aguilar, a professor in ACC’s Electronics and Advanced Technologies Department.

Students provide information about sustainability initiatives at the Great Big Green Get-Together.

Students provide information about sustainability initiatives at the Great Big Green Get-Together.

The college made information about its alternative energy education programs available during the Great Big Green Get-Together. Professor Dave Kollen was at the event to spread the word about his sustainable business practices course, which trains students in ways they can make companies environmentally-friendly.

“I think it will make students more marketable,” said Kollen. “People recognize the need for reducing their impact on the environment, and businesses play an important role in creating a more sustainable society.”

Colleges play an important role too, according to Addie Broussard.

“At ACC, we are making positive changes,” she said. “Education is key when it comes to getting people to go green, and colleges and universities have the ability to lead the way to environmental solutions.  We can set examples and improve our communities.”

For ACC Board of Trustees Chairperson Nan McRaven, it’s all about responsibility.

“Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs,” said McRaven. “What we do today will have a lasting impact at ACC.”

To learn more about ACC’s commitment to environmental stewardship, visit

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