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ACC Elgin, Round Rock campuses switch to renewable energy

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    The solar panels are located on top of the ACC Elgin campus. This is one small solar panel system, not the main power supplier for the campus. Photo courtesy of Austin Community College

Austin Community College District (ACC) is among the top colleges and universities in Texas to promote sustainable, green energy. Two ACC campuses—the ACC Round Rock and Elgin campuses—now use 100 percent clean, renewable electricity making ACC the first community college district in Texas to switch over some of its campuses entirely to wind and solar power. The efforts began summer 2020.

“ACC is committed to becoming a leader in sustainability. That means using less energy and fewer resources while minimizing waste,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC chancellor. “Our goal is to shrink the college’s ecological footprint and increase environmental awareness. Austin Community College District has set the goal of becoming a Zero Waste by 2040 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050 while continuing to grow to meet the demand for ACC programs and services.”

ACC launched its 100 percent renewable energy program with the Texas General Land Office. The college is looking to expand the program to all of its campuses to implement 100 percent renewable energy districtwide. 

“It’s nice to have some good news for a change. With solar energy systems installed on eight campuses, ACC was already a leader within Texas for renewable energy and sustainability,” says Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. “Now, by moving two of its campuses completely off of fossil fuels, ACC is significantly reducing its carbon footprint and helping ensure a safer, more livable climate for our community. Go Riverbats!”

The college is the largest solar operator other than a utility provider in Central Texas. Other green initiatives at the college include but are not limited to:

  • Rooftop solar panels at eight campuses
  • Rainwater/AC condensation reclamation
  • Alternative, green transportation programs including free Green Pass with Capital Metro, Green Car with preferred parking for fuel efficient/low-emission vehicles, Carpooling promotions, and EV charging stations at all campuses.
  • Energy Dashboard, utility tracking system
  • Waste diversion including zero-waste events which boast an 80-90 percent waste diversion rate
  • Sustainable purchasing

The blueprint for implementing college-wide sustainability reforms was created in 2009 by the ACC Board of Trustees. That same year, ACC joined the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, now known as The Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments, and agreed to take action to move the college toward climate neutrality.

For more information about ACC’s sustainability and green initiatives, visit austincc.edu/sustainability.