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Grants promote sustainability

Posted: August 5, 2008 9:16 p.m.
Updated: October 7, 2008 5:02 a.m.

The Higher Education Sustainability Act will encourage colleges and universities to become more energy efficient, according to Jim Schrage, vice president of facilities planning, operations and construction at College of the Canyons.

The bill, passed Thursday by Congress as part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, will provide competitive grants to institutions and associations of higher education. The grants are intended to help colleges offer more academic programs that address sustainability, and to aid campuses in becoming more energy-efficient.

"I'm actually more excited about the education part than the energy-efficient part," Schrage said. "I think a lot of people don't realize the (energy saving) programs that are possible - like the things we have done on our campuses."

Schrage has made sustainability a priority at COC since he started working there 11 years ago. "My main goal is to make the most of what we have," he said. "If you spend a little more up front to be more efficient, that's what it's all about."

Schrage thinks that these new grants will spur a lot of colleges on to start sustainability projects. "These projects are pretty expensive to do, so you need all the help you can get. I think that's what puts a lot of people off at first," Schrage said. "This funding is going to spur a lot of people on to get these projects started."

The bill was endorsed by more than 220 colleges and universities, higher education associations and the Campaign for Environmental Literacy.

"This is a huge victory for college campuses around the country," said Kevin Coyle, vice president for education and training at the National Wildlife Federation. "We have to prepare the next generation for a new energy economy and give the skills to address future environmental challenges, like global warming."

Whether COC is awarded one of the new grants or not, Schrage plans to continue to include as many energy-efficient programs at COC as possible. The next sustainability project on his list is to install solar panels at the COC Canyon Country campus.


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