Green Practices at Durham Tech

On Earth Day, April 22, 2008, Dr. Bill Ingram signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and committed Durham Technical Community College to developing "green" practices so that the campus would achieve overall climate neutrality.

During its first meeting of 2009, the President's Climate Commitment Committee (PCCC) examined the challenges of making the campus more environmentally sound and went back to the PCCC to evaluate where we are in the process of becoming more “green” and to develop a strategy for dealing with these issues in the future.  The PCCC members agreed that it was important to take a survey of the faculty and staff of Durham Tech to try to qualify what measures individuals are taking independently to balance the waste on campus. A request was sent out to the community and people responded on behalf of themselves, their departments, and their colleagues. The following is a list of the efforts people are already making on campus.

If you'd like to learn more about green practices, Durham Tech offers noncredit courses in gardening and sustainability.

Compost GirlRecycling

  • Recycling printer cartridges, paper, glass, and plastics;
  • Recycling for colleagues who cannot recycle;
  • Making recycling bins or bringing bins from home;
  • Carrying recyclables from the Wynn Center to recycle containers in other buildings;
  • Digging out recyclable materials from regular trash cans and putting them in the appropriate recycling bins;
  • Using the Orange Recycling company which took care of the N.C. Mutual Building;
  • Emptying lab recycling bins into hall containers; and
  • Recycling used paper from the copier machine.
  • Reusing inter-campus mail envelopes until they are no longer usable;
  • All in-house printing on recycled paper;
  • Pulling reusable items from recycling bins and placing them on the "free stuff" table in the ERC lobby so they will be reused;
  • Reusing folders multiple times;
  • Washing and reusing plastic cutlery and plates;
  • Using ceramic coffee cups instead of styrofoam;
  • Reinserting sheets of paper that have only a small amount of text on them in lab printers;
  • Scavenging reusable paper from faculty lounge recycling bins and reusing the paper;
  • Using recycled paper for making lists of things to do and writing down phone messages;
  • Reusing paper that has an expired shelf life for sketching;
  • Refilling printer ink cartridges;
  • Converting in-class testing to the Blackboard platform to save paper and copying;
  • Turning off lights in rooms not in use;
  • Using only the needed size of paper towel to dry hands;
  • Turning off restroom faucets if they have been left dripping;
  • Noticing mail addressed to former colleagues no longer at the college and contacting the sender to ask to have the person removed from the mailing list;
  • Returning unwanted textbooks to publishers' representatives;
  • Copying two-sided whenever possible;
  • Sharing files electronically instead of printing them;
  • Printing PowerPoint slides on as few pages as possible;
  • Bringing bottled water from home in metal containers instead of buying bottled water in vending machines (or drinking polluted water);
  • Turning off office lights, computer, and printer when leaving for the day;
  • Walking across campus instead of driving;
  • Networking all printing in the department to reduce the need for print cartridges;
  • Encouraging students to reuse paper assignments;
  • Saving old paper and using the backs as scratch paper during admissions testing;
  • Turning off computers and lights in the computer labs after class;
  • Using good chemical disposal techniques;
  • Avoiding the elevator;
  • Taking turns sorting and emptying the recycling bins in the computer labs;
  • Taking home the plastic air-filled textbook packing and recycling them in the plastic grocery bag bin;
  • Taking care to adjust formatting lengths to just use one sheet of paper for handouts;
  • Erasing and reusing multiple choice tests from semester to semester;
  • Using rewritable CDs or memory sticks instead of one-time-use CDs;
  • Taking the bus; and
  • Making sure doors leading outside are securely closed after being used.

Other Green Techniques

  • Keeping living plants in offices to help clean the air;
  • Sending print cartridges back to the manufacturer in the envelope provided rather than putting them in the trash;
  • Sending old books to Africa for use in schools;
  • Driving hybrid cars;
  • Picking up trash lying on the campus grounds;
  • Using Blackboard to distribute handouts, syllabi, etc. to classes instead of making paper copies;
  • Helping off-campus instructors to avoid coming to campus each time that they need to submit items;
  • Taking spent coffee grounds (and filters) from the office coffeemaker home to add to a compost bin;
  • Changing light bulbs in office lamps to compact fluorescent;
  • Assigning instructors to classes that involve less commuting;
  • Using a bike for commuting;
  • Avoiding takeout food requiring disposable containers;
  • Talking to students about the greenhouse effect;
  • Driving golf carts instead of gas vehicles whenever possible;
  • Purchasing toner from Duraline which picks up empty cartridges;
  • Using computers that automatically turn off at night and turn on in the morning;
  • Putting solar film on some windows to reduce the heat coming through the glass in the summer; and
  • Bringing plastic grocery bags from home for students who need a bag to carry their books.


  • Recycling fluorescent bulbs (over 4,000 bulbs in the last 6 months);
  • Recycling fluorescent light ballasts, and replacing magnetic ballasts with electronic ballasts when lighting is updated;
  • Replacing T-12 fluorescent bulbs with T-8 and recycling the old bulbs;
  • Installing automatic light switches in the Phillips building classrooms;
  • Replacing the HVAC chiller with high-efficiency chillers at the Northern Durham Center, in the Educational Resources Center, and in the Phillips building;
  • Installing waterless urinals in the Orange County Campus, the Corporate Education Center, and in the Durham Tech/Glaxo Wellcome Technology Center;
  • Replacing water circulating pumps with high-efficiency as they fail at the Northern Durham Center, the Durham Tech/Glaxo Wellcome Technology Center, and the Basic Skills Center;
  • Sending computers and electronic materials from the campus to the warehouse where they are either sent to State Recycling or a private recycling company;
  • Collecting recyclables in green bins, which are emptied by the City of Duham once a week;
  • Using a commercial shredder as necessary to shred and recycle sensitive files and records;
  • Collecting rainwater in two 500 gallon tanks for use in landscaping, saving approximately 4,000 gallons in 2008;
  • Testing building water for lead in lead, copper, and chromium; and testing indoor air quality for Bacon Street, the Phail Wynn, Jr. Student Services Center, and the Basic Skills Center;
  • Incorporating green features at the Orange County Campus: Operable window vents, aluminum light shelves, photovoltaic system supplementing building electrical uses, solar-pre-heated water system, rainwater storage system for flushing toilets, waterless urinals, storm water bio-retention areas, daylight controls regulating interior lights depending on exterior light levels, and passive infrared control light switches;
  • Applying 25 cubic yards of compost to the Phail Wynn, Jr. Student Services Center lawn in fall 2008 to increase water and fertilizer efficiency;
  • Using slow-release fertilizers;
  • Keeping the grass as healthy as possible to enhance rain runoff;
  • Not spraying aphids on Spirea bushes at the front of the Durham Tech/Glaxo Wellcome Technology Center to allow the praying mantis to hatch and eat them;
  • Allowing faculty and staff to bring home Kousa Dogwood seedlings instead of spraying them with weed control or pulling up and discarding; and
  • Requiring that mowing contractors for all three of the Durham Tech campuses use mulching mowers to retain lawn moisture and provide nitrogen.


Durham Tech is seeking to interweave environmental issues into its general education courses and into its technical program courses.  Throughout the curriculum, we want our students to recognize the complexity of the environmental issues we face and the multiple pathways we must pursue to maintain a healthy earth.  In our technical programs, we believe all students will need to have training on ways to conserve energy, to adapt to different fuels, and to lessen our harmful impact on the environment.

General Education courses

The capstone course for the Associate in Science degree is Biology 140 - Environmental Science.  The focus in this course is water as a limited resource and the extraordinary implications as nations, states, and communities compete for water.

Environmental issues are also a major focus in American History, as students explore the effect of the dust bowl on the nation, the National Parks Movement, and the early 20th century Progressive Movement with its focus on preservation and conservation.

English 112 explores solving an issue confronting the community, often an environmental one.

Microbiology labs use smaller amounts of starting materials and solvents than a standard scale organic reaction might employ resulting in less waste and exposure to chemicals.

Technical courses

Architectural Technology has added a new course to its plan of study: ARC 210 - Introduction to Sustainable Design.  The program is also adding an additional component to ARC 240 - Site Planning. Students in the program should also be able to demonstrate techniques and procedures used for mitigating the impact of development on the environment.

Automotive Technology has added a new course to its plan of study: AUT 285 - Introduction to Alternative Fuels.

Emergency Preparedness Technology added new courses developed in Spring 2008 by a curriculum improvement project headed by Durham Tech.  These two courses are designed to teach students how to deal with natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, so that damage to the environment is contained while business services are maintained.  The two new courses are EPT 260 - Business Continuity and EPT 280 - Building Resilient Communities. 

Electrical/Electronics Technology and Electronics Engineering program directors are developing a diploma for a Photovoltaic Technician to train students in solar panel installation and techniques for connecting to the energy grid.  Content has been added to existing classes to qualify students to become nationally certified solar-electric panel installers through an Alternative Energy Technician diploma program.

Other Initiatives

Industrial Systems Technology offers students training for CFC Refrigerant Recovery Certification credential, an EPA-sponsored program (which is part of the Federal Clean Air Act).

Architectural Technology is sponsoring LEED certification workshop on campus February 13 in partnership with the NC Triangle Chapter of the US Green Building Council. The program plan was modified to reflect the latest environmental friendly design plans.

Automotive Technology switched to water-based solvents and low-VOCc spray solvents that will put fewer pollutants in the environment. The automotive lab cleans oil spills with recycled uniform rags, uses biodegradable soap, and recycles oil and antifreeze. All Durham Tech employees may bring used motor oil to the automotive shop for recycling.

Electronics/Electrical is working to create a new certificate for lead-free soldering and micro-controllers to coordinate industrial systems.

Corporate and Continuing Education

A "green technology" program using a grant from the EPA and Durham Workforce Development Board was developed with classes in "green" building and interior design.

Student Activities

  • Spring Fling has been converted to a celebration of Earth Day;
  • Students are attending the annual Powershift conference to learn sustainability practices;
  • The Green Jobs Work Study position is improving campus recycling; and
  • The Student Concerns Committee is getting involved in the PCCC.

How Can You Help the Campus Achieve Climate Neutrality?

  • Turn off classroom and office lights when you leave a room even if it is not the end of the day.

  • Turn off your computer when you go home every night. Turning off your computer is not bad for the machine.
    • One computer with an LCD monitor that is powered on all day every day for a year costs the college $134 in electricity. That equates to 0.76 tonnes of CO2 a year.
    • What about putting my computer in “sleep mode?” One sleeping computer (all day every day)  spends $8.88 a year and creates 0.05 tonnes of CO2 a year. It is better than leaving it on but it still adds up.
    • Between offices, classrooms and labs on all of our campuses, Durham Tech has about 2,000 computers. That means $268,000 or 1520 tonnes of CO2 a year!
    • If you turn your computer completely off when you leave every day, meaning it is only on about eight hours a day instead of 24, that $134 changes to $29 a year and creates only 0.17 tonnes of CO2.  For all computers that would be $58,000 a year or 330.51 tonnes of CO2 . That’s a savings of 1190 tonnes a year!

  • Take home your appliances!
    • The average dormitory sized refrigerator costs $26 a year and creates 0.15 tonnes of CO2. That’s a lot of greenhouse gas for a cup of yogurt and a few cans of soda.
    • A space heater running eight hours a day in the winter costs about $14.90 a month or $89.40 for six months and adds 0.51 tonnes of greenhouse gas.

  • Watch out for your “vampire power,” and unplug electronics when they are not in use. Consider unplugging everything in your office when you leave for the summer.
    • “Vampire” or “phantom” power is the electricity that is used by appliances when they are plugged in but not turned on. Consider some of these common office gadgets:
      • An inkjet printer uses 66.576 kwh and costs $ 4.66 a year while creating 93.21 tonnes of CO2.
      • Your laptop uses 54.312 kwh  at $ 3.80 or 76.04 tonnes of CO2.
      • A laser printer uses 1.752 kwh for $ 0.12 and makes 2.45 tonnes of CO2.
      • One surge protector 3.504 kwh costs  $ 0.25 and adds 4.905 tonnes of CO2.

  • Recycle, reuse, and conserve.
    • Recycle printer cartridges and print in "draft" mode when feasible.
    • Recycle cans, paper, glass, and plastics. Remember that items placed in the wrong bin will ruin the entire bin.
    • Reuse envelopes, folders, and scrap paper.
    • Use recycled paper for all printing.
    • Suggest that documents should be two-sided, if possible, and formatted to minimize waste.
    • Distribute information electronically to conserve paper.
    • Encourage instructors to have material available for students to check out or to post material on Blackboard.
    • Create a depository for office materials, stationery, and school supplies available to faculty, staff, and students.
    • Step away from the automatic sinks while you are lathering your hands so that the water will turn off.

  • Encourage students to join the Environmental Science Club.

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1637 Lawson Street
Durham, NC 27703

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