Orange Coast College Announces the Development of New Recycling Center

The public ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new recycling center at the Orange Coast College (OCC) provides a focus on the school’s support for environmental protection. The facility that lies on the northern edge of the Costa Mesa campus takes up almost five times as much area as the center that it replaces.

Replacing an Outdated Facility
The new recycling center that required 16 months to build and roughly $7.5 million in construction costs houses classrooms and support facilities as well. A first aid room, showers for men and women, a conference room and 45 parking spaces help ensure the multipurpose building’s use by the college and the community. The school’s recycling program has supported the community by meeting trash disposal requirements for more than 45 years.

Receiving Welcome and Praise
The event garnered enthusiasm from college administrators and local government officials. OCC President Dennis Harkins called the new center the result of “decades of commitment” to the Costa Mesa community, citing the thousands of jobs that the old facility provided primarily for students over the decades of its existence. Mayor Katrina Foley remarked on the capacity of the new center to serve as an “economic driver” for Costa Mesa.

One of the happiest officials at the ribbon-cutting was the environmental and sustainability coordinator for OCC. So dedicated to the ecological purpose of the facility, he lets students and colleagues include it in his name: Michael “Recycle” Carey. For him, the occasion was almost unreal. In fact, he asked others to “pinch me” just to make sure of a dream coming true.

Choosing Green Construction
With a goal of preserving the planet, OCC chose to use green construction methods. The building’s eco-friendly materials include solar panels on the roof and solar tubes to light the interior spaces. Officials seek to obtain energy-efficient certifications for the facility. Buildings that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s strict energy performance standards operate with higher efficiency at lower cost and with fewer greenhouse gases than less well-built structures. Buildings that qualify for the EPA Energy Star rating may consume 35 percent less energy without a loss of comfort or performance.

Serving as a State-of-the-Art Recycling Center
Recyclable refuse of a range of materials can produce energy at the new center. It accepts plastic bottles, aluminum cans, scrap metal and newspapers in addition to electronic waste. Consumers may take computer monitors, televisions and fax machines to the center for recycling. Some products that often present residents with challenges in finding a facility that accepts them include fluorescent light tubes, cooking oil and household batteries. However, the range of acceptable refuse does not include auto or marine batteries, furniture, chemicals, used motor oil, hazardous waste or paint.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine at NIH cites electronic waste as a rapidly growing problem. The New York Times points to the importance of disposing of electronic equipment correctly, and the OCC recycling facility can do it. Between two and three million tons of electronics become refuse every year, and the toxicity in the gadgets damages the environment.

Meeting Community Needs
The OCC facility that is ready to serve the community got its funding from various resources. A voter-approved bond, Measure M from the Coast Community College District, provided a portion of it. The classrooms carry the names of Cliff and Janet Ronnenberg, financial supporters of the project. Cliff is the founder and CEO of CR&R Environmental Services. OCC’s Vision 2020, a development blueprint, includes new housing for students and a planetarium now under construction to replace a structure from the 1950s.

Taking a Look at OCC
On a beautiful 164-acre campus in Costa Mesa, OCC honors a tradition of excellence that its founders started in 1947. The institution that is close to Los Angeles and Southern California’s beaches has earned a reputation as one of the largest and best community colleges in the country. OCC offers a diverse range of studies that includes two-year programs that lead to an associate of art and science degree as well as tracks to earning certificates of achievement. Students can transfer lower division classes to other colleges and universities. The student body of 97 percent residents of California contributes to an enrollment of nearly 25,000. More than half of the undergraduates seek a degree, and 35 percent of them attend school on a part-time basis.

The facilities on campus provide a stimulating environment for the more than 135 career and academic programs. Courses in technology and marine sciences contribute to the enrollment of nearly half of the students’ pursuit of the college’s Career and Technical Education programs. OCC’s position as the leader of community colleges in Orange County allows it to transfer more students to the state’s university systems, including California State University and the University of California. Many students find acceptance by private colleges within the state and across the country as well.

Achieving Excellence in Athletic Competition
OCC’s distinguished history includes athletic prowess in winning the Orange Empire Conference Sports Supremacy Award in almost all of the past 30 years. The trophy holds an honored position in the college’s history as it represents the top overall athletic program for men and women in the conference. OCC’s first Athlete of the Year, Kenny Moats, initiated the tradition of excellence that students continue to respect in its seventh decade of leadership. The Pirate athletic programs enjoy success in competition as students appreciate the teams’ dedication to achievement and excellence.

Certifying Credibility
The school holds accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College (ACCJC), an institution that the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize. The acceptance of ACCJC’s standards helps OCC advance educational quality and institutional excellence through innovation and adherence to quality improvement.


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