Community College of Allegheny County

Elaine Sadowski, Energy Manager
(412) 237-3157
[email protected]

The Climate Initiative at CCAC

As a member of the Higher Education Climate Consortium, the Community College of Allegheny County is committed to aligning its campus practices with the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative. An overview of its efforts is outlined below.

Educational Initiatives & Outreach

CCAC offers a certificate which prepares the student to work in the new green economy and to educate community members in resource conservation, alternative energy options and sustainable home design.

The program, which was founded in the Summer of 2012, provides a zero-based tuition technical education to individuals who meet the prerequisites. The program provides individuals with the technical training for the renewable and alternative energy field.

Emissions Inventory

CCAC completed its first greenhouse gas inventory in 2011, becoming only the third community college in the country at the time to accomplish the task. The inventory established a baseline of emissions, allowing the school to produce a climate action plan with a goal of reducing emissions 15% below 2009 levels by 2016. The plan outlines various energy saving projects that will help achieve this reduction.

Energy: Efficiency, Conservation, and Alternative

CCAC is currently writing a comprehensive energy policy, as well as energy procedures outlining specific steps to be taken to conserve energy and reduce costs on CCAC campuses. These procedures encompass buildings and facilities, purchasing, computers & electronics, use of personal electronic equipment, vehicles and transportation, and academic programs. The school is also exploring ways to purchase renewable energy.

CCAC is implementing a system-wide energy management system upgrade that will enable real-time monitoring of building energy use, and has implemented an Energy Star ® purchasing policy.

Recycling and Waste Management

CCAC currently recycles and will be writing a formal recycling policy in the coming months and is exploring ways to increase its diversion rate.

Buildings and Grounds

CCAC is currently in the process of retrofitting interior and exterior lighting across its campuses. Inside, all the older T12 flourescent lamps and 32-Watt T8 lamps are being replaced by more efficient 25-Watt T8′s, while outside the older metal halide, high-pressure sodium, and mercury vapor lamps are being replaced by LEDs. Combined, these projects will save 2.9 million kWh and $257,000 per year, resulting in an annual reduction of 2,235 tons of CO2e.

The at Allegheny campus had its ribbon cutting on March 25, 2013. The new building is LEED Silver certified and will support coursework in Biotechnology, Biology, Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, Geology, Astronomy and Physical Science.

CCAC’s South Campus and its central plant are the largest consumers of energy in the CCAC system, but not for long. Through a suite of energy efficiency measures under a guaranteed savings contract beginning in 2015, CCAC’s South Campus will reduce its energy consumption substantially in the coming years. The energy savings project will replace inefficient steam-fired absorption chillers with high efficiency variable-speed electric screw chillers, gas-fired steam boilers with hot water boilers, and existing parking lot and grounds lighting with new LED fixtures. Other measures include the installation of low-flow fixtures, retrocommissioning, and control sequence upgrades to the HVAC system. This wide-sweeping initiative will save 4,651,388 kBtu of electricity and gas a year, and reduce the emission of 1,714 tons of eCO2. Total energy savings account for just over a quarter of South Campus’ total energy use.


CCAC currently offers discounted Port Authority passes to all students, faculty, and staff. Bike commuting is easy to Allegheny campus as it is located in close proximity to the North Shore Trail which is part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail System.

Smoke-Free and Tobacco-Free Campus

One of only 100 community colleges around the country, CCAC has been selected to participate in LEGACY’s Smoke-Free and Tobacco-Free Community College Grant Initiative. The initiative is designed to assist community colleges in creating healthy, productive, and safe environments for student success with the goal of the adoption of a 100% smoke-free or tobacco-free campus policy. Findings indicate that students with an associate degree smoke more than students with an undergraduate degree and that four-year colleges are more likely to have a smoke-free policy than community colleges. Through this initiative, CCAC will create a toxic-free environment, improving air quality and eliminating the risk of pollution from cigarette butts.