OCEANSIDE — MiraCosta College was recently awarded the Green Colleges Leadership Award for its comprehensive master plan that includes extensive green practices.
Ideas to make the campus greener were generated by a committee of staff members from architecture, energy, open space, water and wastewater, land use, and architectural landscape disciplines, to ensure green efforts cover every angle.
“Environmental sustainability crosses every discipline,” Tom Macias, director of facilities, said. “We’re going in the direction of being less dependent on the grid.”
A significant green effort that reflects the intention of the comprehensive master plan is the replacement of all campus streetlights with LED bulbs.
The project started with changing out staff parking lot lights with energy-saving LED bulbs.
The college is continuing its efforts to replace all campus parking lot and streetlights with LED bulbs by March 2014 with Proposition 39 funds, which support energy-efficient projects.
“It’s a lot of work taking out all the old inefficient lighting and putting in energy-efficient lighting,” Macias said.
Macias added the change pays off in reducing electricity use and the college’s energy bill.
The college also added a LEAD platinum certified science building to its Oceanside campus in August. Macias said almost all materials used to construct the building are made from recycled materials.
The building is lit with photovoltaic power that runs off of the building’s solar panel grid.
It also features sola-tubes, which Macias described as high-tech skylights. Light is captured and redirected by the sola-tubes to illuminate classrooms without turning on light fixtures.
“The sola-tube is like a skylight,” Macias said. “It’s highly refined. It channels light and prisms it out.”
Another campus feature is the living lab garden that horticulture students use as part of their lab studies. Part of the gardens are labeled so all campus visitors can enjoy them as an interpretive trail.
The college has been thinking green for 14 years and is continually finding more ways to recycle and reduce consumption.
Recycling efforts are practiced on campus and low-flush toilets are used.
“Recycling efforts have been very successful,” Macias said. “We recycle paper, cardboard, bottles, plastic, metal, we also compost grass clippings.”
Future green efforts at the college include looking at how to change staff and student behavior to reduce consumption.
An initial behavioral change the college will soon launch is presetting room temperatures to a more energy-efficient range, cooler in winter, warmer in summer. Temperatures will be centrally controlled instead of allowing access to temperature adjustment in each room. Macias said the implementation of this change would take staff buy-in to be successful.