Aug. 27, 2014

By Minnie Payne

Behind the scenes at the Dallas County Community College District, there’s a Sustainability Team pushing students and staff to new heights of sustainability.

Today, three of its campuses – Cedar Valley, Mountain View and Northlake – have full-time sustainability coordinators, and the other four colleges have people serving on a sustainability committee.  

Right, Georgeann Moss has been part of a grassroots sustainability movement at DCCCD.

The sustainability infrastructure grew out of grassroots effort, when a group of DCCCD employees volunteered to be sustainability advocates seven years ago. To make a bigger impact toward conserving energy and preventing waste, these volunteers approached Justin Lonon, DCCCD vice chancellor of public and governmental affairs, with the idea that a sustainability team be formed. He agreed to sponsor them. 

Moss said that for a couple of years, the team met informally until five years ago when they became an official work group. 

The team’s four strategic goals are conserving energy and resources; minimizing and diverting waste; educating students and employees about sustainability; and engaging local, regional and national community on sustainability efforts.  

Left, Maria Boccalandro is the sustainability director at Cedar Valley College.

“Our biggest accomplishment has been that we have raised awareness of the benefits of sustainability throughout the district,” says Georgeann Moss, DCCCD Director of Internet Publishing.

The team is made up of people from different areas in the district. In addition to faculty members, there are instructional assistants, marketing people, etc.

“We have representatives from each college who are appointed by the respective presidents,” she shares. “In addition to the eight official representatives, there are more than 50 other people who stay abreast of things that are taking place.”  

Moss says that the team doesn’t look at situations as challenges, but rather opportunities. Presently their biggest opportunity is how to re-invest the savings from energy efficiency.

“We are trying to get the best idea that says we can realize energy efficiency savings back into new projects,” she said.

Left, Lori De La Cruz is the sustainability coordinator at Mountain View College.

The sustainability team’s vision is to have the colleges of DCCCD act as leaders in their communities by teaching, learning and supporting sustainability. And one of the ways they are accomplishing that is through an annual Sustainability Summit, open to students, employees and community members. In April, the fourth summit was held, with more than 400 people in attendance.   

“This summer we also collaborated with our Facilities Department and had a summer intern/fellow from the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps,” says Moss. 

Moss said EDF fellow Tommy LaPoint collaborated with several departments to identify energy efficiency projects. 

Right, Brandon Morton is the sustainability coordinator at North Lake College.

“The purchasing department was taught to address sustainability in purchasing; we have a strategic IT plan, a green computing initiative, etc.”  

Despite their successes, Moss said sustainability is still not yet in the main stream of the culture.

“Building awareness to sustainability has been a tough row to hoe for the last seven years,” shares Moss. “The sustainability coordinators are really reaching out to professors to teach sustainability into their curriculum.”  

Minnie Payne is a Carrollton-based freelance writer. She’s written for Pegasus News, Frisco Style Magazine and Seedstock. She presently freelances for Living Magazine, The Senior Voice and Your Speakeasy. She can be reached at

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