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CCCC-Chatham Campus showcases green on Earth Day

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Central Carolina Community College’s Chatham County Campus, in Pittsboro, celebrated Earth Day ... (more)

05.03.2011College & CommunitySpecial EventsStudents/Graduates

PITTSBORO - Leaders at Central Carolina Community College's Pittsboro location celebrated Earth Day April 21 with a showcase of all that makes the campus "green."

The school features what Laura Lauffer, CCCC's sustainability coordinator and lead instructor for sustainable technologies, called "a living laboratory."

For example, the campus's Sustainable Technology Center features roof-mounted solar panels, allowing the college to lower energy costs by heating water for domestic and heating use. Another part of the roof is covered with plant material, helping to reduce the heat load and rainwater runoff. The joint college-county Chatham Community Library, located on the campus, was also built to LEED standards, assuring energy and water conservation.

"This college is so dynamic and wonderful because there are so many ways in which we're able to take sustainability beyond the classroom," said Lauffer. "The campus serves not only the college community but the surrounding community, offering numerous tours and educational events. The tour to commemorate Earth Day focused on the stormwater retention system."

Architect Lewis Cherry, of RATIO Architects, was honored for his design of the library and the Sustainable Technology Center at a separate event that evening in Raleigh. The Greater Triangle Stewardship Development Awards Governing Council awarded the firm a Gold Award, its highest level of distinction for sustainability measures in new construction. 

At the CCCC Earth Day celebration, the college showed off its stormwater recycling system with the help of Fred Royal, director of Environmental Resources for Chatham County. Lauffer said the system essentially gathers rainwater from the roof of the library building and filters it using retention ponds and ultraviolet technology. It then runs it back into the building for non-potable uses. From inside the library, used water is pumped into a septic tank outside, where it is filtered again and funneled into an on-campus wetland.

"The net effect is that we're not sending as much water to treatment facilities, and we're not sending as much water into streams. The water we do send into streams is much cleaner, thanks to the filtration we're doing here," Lauffer said.

In honor of Earth Day, CCCC sustainable agriculture students planted edible herbs in beds adjacent to the Natural Chef Cafe's outdoor dining area. The plants will serve as beautification and be used in cooking.

Lauffer said all of the events on Earth Day demonstrate the college's commitment to sustainability efforts and environmentally friendly design and construction.

"What CCCC in Chatham County is able to offer is a unique experience that you'll not find at any other community college in the region," she said.

The sustainability programs offer both continuing education and associate degree programs. For more information about the college's Sustainable Technologies program, visit the school's web site at or call the Chatham Campus at (919) 545-8032.