The Berkshire Community College (BCC) Green Team has received the 2018 Alan Silverstein and Laura Dubester Award for Community Environmental Leadership from the Center for EcoTechnology.

The BCC Green Team was founded in 2008. They received the award Thursday, April 26, at the Earth Day forum. Laura Dubester and CET Associate Director Nancy Nylen were the presenters. The award is named after Silverstein and Dubester, a couple who served as co-directors of CET for 22 years until they retired in 2010. Dubester joined CET in 1977 and Silverstein in 1978. They became co-directors of the organization in 1988. Silverstein passed away in 2014.

The award is given by CET to a local citizen or group who is working in their community to benefit the local environment with a focus on reducing the harmful impacts that humans can have on the environment, and the positive steps that people can take at home, work, and in their communities that help protect the environment, improve quality of life, and build community.

BCC’s Green Team coordinates efforts to reduce the College’s carbon footprint, maintain sustainable practices, seek funding to carry out initiatives, and coordinate these efforts with other colleges

The Berkshire Community College Green Team Committee leads efforts to help the college become more environmentally friendly, sustainable, and attractive for residents, visitors, and future generations.

One of the green initiatives at BCC has been installation of solar photovoltaic panels to generate electricity. Berkshire Community College currently has 1846 solar panels installed over seven buildings.  The average energy production from these panels is equivalent to approximately 25-30 percent of campus electricity usage.

In 2017, BCC was recognized first among colleges and universities in Massachusetts and 4th in the nation for their waste diversion rate!  RecyleMania is a nation-wide competition for the best recycling rates and waste reduction at approximately 200 college and university campuses.  From 8 weeks of tracking their trash, recyclables, and compostables, they determined that BCC now diverts over 81% of its waste from landfills and incinerators.  And, that’s up from 50% in 2011!

Thanks to responsible purchasing practices, BCC is able to compost food and almost all waste in the cafeteria including tea bags and coffee grounds (with filters), baked goods, bones, dairy, plates, to-go containers, hot beverage cups, green straws and coffee stirrers, soda cups, forks, knives, spoons, napkins and paper towels.

Recycling at BCC includes glass bottles and jars, most plastic containers, tin and aluminum soda and food cans. And, they have recently installed attractive bins with clear signs indicating where recycling, paper, composting and trash can be easily sorted.

Every spring the Green Team sponsors a day for faculty, staff and students to come together and make the campus looks its best.  People volunteer an hour or two to put on gloves, pick up rakes and spend some time outside having fun.

During April, in celebration of Earth Day, the Green Team sponsors a Green Team Forum, featuring speakers and information about actions that students, faculty, staff and members of the community can take to reduce their environmental impact.

BCC also partners with groups throughout the region and beyond. Through their partnership with MassPIRG the Green Team is supporting efforts to promote 100% renewable electricity in Massachusetts by 2035 and all renewable power by 2050. In October 2017 the Green Team helped bring the Berkshire Natural History Conference to BCC, helping to celebrate the natural beauty and resources of the region.

According to John Majercak, CET’s president, “The award honors Dubester and Silverstein’s achievements and brings recognition to individuals who demonstrate community and environmental leadership through several means. We believe the best way to honor their work is to recognize similar work and commitment of other remarkable people and groups like the BCC Green Team.”