Onondaga Community College: Green and Gold Honors for OCC

Member Spotlight

Onondaga Community College's (Syracuse, NY) commitment to environmental responsibility earned it Green College status from the prestigious Princeton Review in April 2015. A total of 861 colleges applied for the classification and OCC was one of only 353 selected.

Green College status is based on academic offerings and career preparation for students, campus policies, initiatives, and activities. The Princeton Review helps students get ready for college by offering test preparation, admission services, tutoring, and online courses.
While reviewing and evaluating OCC's dedication to sustainability, the Princeton Review highlighted the following green facts:

  • Available transportation alternatives
  • 100 percent new construction LEED-certified
  • 49 percent water diversion rate
  • 15 percent of school energy from renewable resources
  • College offers a sustainability-focused degree
  • College has a sustainability officer and sustainability committee

The Princeton Review based its choices on Green Rating scores tallied for colleges using data from its 2013-2014 survey of school administrators. The survey asked respondents to report on sustainability-related policies, practices, and programs. More than 25 data points were weighted in the assessment.

The Green College designation is the latest example of recognition for OCC's campuswide sustainability and environmental responsibility efforts. During the fall 2014 semester, the college received two LEED Gold plaques for its two newest buildings: Academic II and SRC Arena and Events Center. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a third-party certification system that ensures buildings are designed and constructed using green building principles.

Rick Fedrizzi, the President, CEO, and Founding Chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, came to the college in October 2014 to take part in a ceremony, held in the Academic II building, honoring the achievements. During the LEED Gold presentation ceremony, Fedrizzi commended OCC for making difficult choices when the buildings were being designed:

It would have been very easy for the college leadership to say, "we're spending enough on these buildings. Let's dress these things up. It will look great and no one will know the difference." But this college made the decision doing that wasn't good enough. You wanted to do something that was better for the students, the faculty, and, ultimately, the community at-large. The commitment to make these buildings perform even better than they look is an investment in the world around us. Your leadership on this project isn't everyday kind of stuff.

Prior to the ceremony, Fedrizzi held a question and answer session with nearly 100 students and campus community members. He also visited the Whitney Applied Technology Center and spent time with students enrolled in the Architectural Technology and Interior Design majors. "It's awesome that he came here to speak with us," said Ivan Hanson, a sophomore Architectural Technology major from Christian Brothers Academy. According to Hanson,

It was very inspirational to meet him and hear his message. For someone who leads an international organization to spend time talking with us about what we are learning in class and to be able to exchange ideas with him was an amazing opportunity.