Chesapeake College is proud to be a national leader in sustainability and environmental awareness and has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy.
At Chesapeake College, taking responsibility for our actions, acting as responsible stewards of our resources, and adhering to the highest standards of ethical and civic behavior are Core Values in the Chesapeake College’s 2019-2024 Strategic plan. The College is a catalyst for and a member of the ecosystem for regional economic development and sustainability as well as a center for personal enrichment, the arts, and culture. Environmental sustainability has long been important at Chesapeake College. The College’s 2014-2018 Strategic Plan called for Chesapeake to be “a leader in environmental sustainability." In keeping with that mission and vision, the College is a recognized leader in the regional sustainability dialogue.
Because we are located in an agricultural region adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay, we have an obligation to make a positive impact on the environment through partnerships, leadership, education and modeling. The College has signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, thereby pledging to reduce our energy footprint to zero by 2025. Through our institutional actions, including installation of renewable energy, pursuit of higher-than-required LEED certification for building renovations, restoration of our campus watershed, and more, we model environmental responsibility on the Eastern Shore and inspire environmentally engaged citizens.
Chesapeake College was the 1st community college in the nation to be a US Department of Energy Better Buildings Initiative (BBI) Achiever. Based on BBI energy reduction data, Chesapeake College is the most successful college in the nation with respect to energy conservation and 2nd in the nation among all higher education institutions. Chesapeake College’s diverse energy program is touted as a best practice by the US Department of Energy. The College has reduced its electricity consumption by more than 25% with a 40% reduction energy cost.
LEED Certification for the Health Professions and Athletics Center (HPAC)
The renovation and expansion of the Health Professions and Athletics Center was designed with sustainability in mind. The building features a high-efficiency heating and cooling system, supported by 200 geothermal wells; efficient lighting systems including LED bulbs, daylight harvesting technology, and room occupancy sensors; abundant natural light inside the building; energy-efficient windows; a solar hot water system that preheats water for the building; and dedicated parking for EVs, carpools, and efficient vehicles. As a result of this design, the HPAC building has received LEED Platinum status the highest status available from the US Green Building Council. HPAC is also highlighted by the US Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Solution Center.
Solar Photovoltaic Array
Chesapeake College has installed solar panels generating 1.8 megawatts (MW) of solar electricity. The main solar array, installed near the Chesapeake athletic fields along Route 213, has 5,126 ground-mounted units. The project also includes 2,430 solar panels atop new parking-lot canopies, constructed as part of the Health Professions and Athletics Center project, and includes a set of 3 panels specifically for teaching purposes. Solar energy provider SolarCity was selected as the partner for the project. The California-based company currently serves 15 states and Washington, D.C. The solar array produces more than 50% of total required electricity required to run the main campus.
This new solar project further raises the college’s profile as a regional and national leader in environmental responsibility. Constructed without taxpayer or student funds, the project has reduced Chesapeake’s reliance on fossil-fueled electricity by approximately 35 percent. Going forward, the project could save the college $100,000 per year over the next 20 years. The benefits of the solar project go beyond finances. Part of Chesapeake’s mission is to aid economic development and sustainability on the Eastern Shore. As former president Barbara Viniar said at the outset of the solar initiative, “We have an obligation to educate people about renewable energy and sustainability. We’re doing this because it is morally and economically right. It’s wonderful when those two things come together.
In tandem with the solar panels, Chesapeake College has proposed to install up to 2 megawatts of battery storage capacity. This battery installation, developed in partnership with Delmarva Power, its parent company Pepco Holdings, Inc., and New Jersey-based battery developer AF Mensah, will allow Chesapeake to support continuous operations in two campus buildings, the Caroline Student Center and the Economic Development Center, in case of emergency. This first-of-a-kind engineering project will use the solar panels to charge the battery array, and the battery will contribute to the regional grid by helping supply steady, reliable power during periods of peak demand.
Electric Vehicle Charging Station
Chesapeake College has 4 electric vehicle charging stations, located near the Health Professions and Athletics Center. Another 10 EV charging stations can be found underneath the solar parking-lot canopies near the HPAC building.
In cooperation with ShoreRivers and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake College is making strides to improve its stormwater infrastructure. Early efforts involved replanting native vegetation around one of the campus’s two stormwater ponds, and raising a storm drain to encourage water to percolate into the soil. More recent projects, engineered by Environmental Concern, Inc., include regenerative stormwater conveyance downstream of the campus stormwater infrastructure and the addition of two rain gardens near the main entrance to campus. Together, these improvements protect and improve water quality in the Wye East River, which begins on campus. These projects are used as “living laboratories” for education, both for Chesapeake College students and visitors to the campus.
As part of Chesapeake College’s stormwater management system, a bioswale was installed in the parking lot near the Humanities and Talbot Science buildings to better control water runoff. The bioswale is a narrow strip, planted with grasses and flowering plants. It holds water so biological activity can remove excess nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and it also helps remove pollutants from asphalt and vehicles. The bioswale facilitates the movement of stormwater into the ground, instead of diverting it into the Wye River and the Chesapeake Bay. It also provides habitat for insects and birds.
As another part of Chesapeake College’s stormwater management system, ten acres of pollinator habitat has been created on the Chesapeake College campus. The meadow sits over the 240 geothermal wells that provide heating and cooling to the HPAC building, where it captures nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment before they can run into the Chesapeake Bay. The pollinator meadow provides critical habitat for pollinator insects, such as bees and butterflies, which help pollinate many of our agricultural crops, including most fruit trees and many vegetables.
The meadow was planted with native plants which are critical to some pollinator life cycles. Adult butterflies often lay eggs on specific plants, and their larvae then feed on those plants. For more generalist pollinators, this meadow provides multiple nectar sources that are free of insecticides.
The College presently recycles paper, plastic bottles and cardboard. These items are picked up by Queen Anne’s County Public Works employees and counted as part of the County Recycling Program. The Queen Anne’s county Board of Public Works also maintains a recycling center on our campus which provides igloos for paper, plastic, cardboard and glass. This location serves not only Chesapeake College, but also the residents of Wye Mills, Maryland.
Bridging Sustainability and Curricula
The Sustainability Academic Group is a faculty committee with the aim to advance the use of Chesapeake College sustainability efforts in instruction; develop, introduce, and support curriculum that will teach sustainability in a systematic way; promote the voluntary integration of sustainability concepts into courses; and direct Sustainability Scholars, a competency-based, sustainability-studies recognition initiative for students.
For more information, please visit the Sustainability Academic Group page.
Green Certifications and Recognitions:
Maryland Green Registry
U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge
U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Solution Center
U. S. Green Building Council