The College of Southern Maryland has been recognized for its commitment to green practices with a 2019 EcoLeadership Award.
The Alliance for Workplace Excellence selected CSM as a recipient of this award, which will be presented to CSM, along with 16 other businesses and organizations from across the United States, at AWE’s 20th annual awards celebration June 7 in Gaithersburg.
“To be considered for the AWE EcoLeadership Award, CSM was required to demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability,” said CSM president Maureen Murphy. “CSM was subjected to a comprehensive and rigorous assessment process led by an independent review panel of academic and business professionals. Eco-friendly policies and practices attract talent, increase productivity, reduce costs, improve employee morale and loyalty and — most importantly — help protect the environment.”
CSM created an Environmental Sustainability Committee, chaired by CSM financial services vice president Tony Jernigan, that provides leadership in the college’s green practices. Membership for the ESC include staff, faculty and students, representing all campuses.
Among multiple efforts, one green program of which the college is particularly proud is its Bee Campus USA designation, announced last year. CSM was the first community college in Maryland and second college overall in Maryland to receive this designation.
The Bee Campus USA is a coalition of colleges that is working to restore native plants, their pollinators and the colleges’ indigenous ecosystems. CSM has participated by creating landscaping with native plants that feed native pollinators, minimizing the use of herbicides and insecticides and providing educational opportunities to increase public awareness of the value of these kinds of activities.
It’s all about creating a pollinator-friendly environment, said biology professor Paul Billeter, who instigated the college’s effort to participate in the Bee Campus program. The college wants to foster habitat that encourages pollinator diversity and abundance — bees, butterflies and other helpful insects, as well as birds and bats.
“The immediate reason for the college’s involvement is that reversing long-term human impacts and restoring degraded local ecosystems is important to us,” Billeter said. On a different scale, two of the major requirements of participation in the program are planting pollinator-friendly gardens and educating the public. Gardening is the number-one hobby in the USA, and CSM is an important center of education in Southern Maryland.”
CSM’s partners in this effort include the Chaney Foundation, Eatwell Natural Farm, the Southern Maryland Audubon Society, University of Maryland Extension/Master Gardeners and the Xerces Society.
Other eco-friendly efforts at CSM that contributed to the AWE EcoLeadership Award include:
• More than 4,000 LED fixtures have been purchased and installed at the college since 2016, resulting in an 85 percent reduction in energy use.
• Four water filling stations have been installed on all four campuses to decrease use of one-use plastic bottles. The ESC and student associations have given away re-usable bottles to increase awareness of the program. Since installation, an estimated 75,000 plastic bottles have been diverted from purchase and waste disposal.
• Recycling has been encouraged by providing easy-to-identify bins.
• Paper use has been cut by moving hundreds of employees to an electronic timesheet process, no longer printing pay advices and implementing an online expense reimbursement program and purchasing card process.
• CSM Trash Clean-up events are held twice a year to raise awareness and engage faculty, staff and students.
• In 2017, the cafeteria discontinued the use of Styrofoam and replaced it with environmentally friendly products.
• Last year, CSM transitioned to a 100 percent green chemical cleaning system.
• The number of online courses offered has increased. On average, four out of 10 students take at least one credit course online.
• The CSM College Store recycles textbooks through buyback and rental programs. In FY18, 3,200 textbooks were reused through these programs.
• All new construction is designed to meet LEED certifications. In 2018, CSM received LEED Gold for its Regional Hughesville Campus Center for Trades and Energy Training Building.
In announcing the AWE EcoLeadership Award to the college, Murphy thanked CSM Division of Financial and Administrative Services Executive Assistant Jennifer Everhart and CSM Director of Compensation & Benefits in Human Resources Raquel Brooks and others who collaborated to complete the process required for the AWE EcoLeadership Award, as well as all the CSM employees who contribute to the college’s eco-friendly workplace.
The Alliance for Workplace Excellence is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1999 by Discovery Communications, Mental Health Association (now EveryMind) and Montgomery County, Maryland. Over the past 20 years, AWE has been dedicated to empowering employers to build excellence in the workplace as a means of supporting the quality of life for employees, their families and the community at-large. For more, visit www.excellentworkplace.org/.
In addition to the 2019 AWE EcoLeadership Award, CSM won the Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award in 2016 for its environmental sustainability efforts. For more information about CSM’s eco-friendly initiatives, visit www.csmd.edu/about/environmental-sustainability/.