Governance and Leadership
HCC’s record of commitment to sustainability was established through an organic process that evolved over 41 years and culminated in the formation of the Sustainability Council in 2009. The Council functions as the primary strategic planning and coordinating unit for all sustainability efforts within the college.
Today’s Sustainability Council was originally known as the “Green Team,” a small group of 8-10 volunteers focusing on environmentally-oriented projects. The Council’s membership has grown to over 115 active members in less than three years.
Under the leadership of former President, Dr. Gwendolyn Stephenson, HCC signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2008.
HCC constructed the first LEED Gold certified campus at our SouthShore location, which made the college the first community college to receive this certification from the United States Green Building Council.
The Institute of Florida Studies (IFS), which was formed in 1971 for the purpose of serving as a community-based environmental resource and education center, continues to serve the community though a wide range of environmental education and outreach programs.
Implementation of sustainable practices has led to annual energy cost savings of approximately $280,000 even while an additional 50,000 square feet of heated space was added to the college’s building inventory.
HCC has committed to building all new construction and renovations to at least the LEED Silver standard.
To mitigate the college’s carbon footprint, HCC adopted a ride share program, Zimride©, and grew it to 1,300 participants within its’ first year of operation.
Based on HCC’s leadership, the college was invited to join the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) making HCC the first associate degree granting institution to be inducted into membership. HCC is now working with the NCSE to build partnerships with other community colleges.
College-wide activities such as recycling campaigns, landscaping projects, guest lectures, and Earth Day celebrations annually involve large numbers of faculty and students.

Working with Tampa Bay TRANE, the College installed a 10 kW photovoltaic solar array at its Brandon Campus. The project was eligible for a $20,000 rebate from the Tampa Electric Company (TECO). While the array will provide approximately 1% of the campus’s electricity needs, its prominence and the digital display that accompanies the installation, have become important educational tools for students, visitors, faculty and staff.
HCC developed an internal methodology for tracking commuting data and integrating that data into our Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory. The process involved both students and staff.
HCC is transitioning the college’s fleet of maintenance vehicles to include electric vans.
In some areas of the college, HCC is implementing a shared model of printing with staff pooling their purchases and use of recycled paper products.
Through a Sustainability Council sub-committee, plans for a major waste management initiative including recover, recycle, and reuse practices are being developed.
Program Design and Delivery
The Florida Advanced Technology Education Center (FLATE) at HCC created the first statewide curriculum for an alternative energy program. More recently, FLATE developed a certificate in Industrial Energy Efficiency. FLATE representatives also partner with the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC) to link energy research within the universities to workforce development needs in Florida.
The Institute of Florida Studies delivers environmental education programs to more than 5,000 K-12 school children each year through a partnership between IFS, the School District of Hillsborough County, and the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department.
HCC, in partnership with the Center for Urban Transportation Research at USF and the Florida Department of Transportation, developed a statewide curriculum for bus transit technicians. This curriculum embeds instructional modules related to the maintenance and repair of hybrid bus systems. HCC manages and owns two outdoor environmental educational centers and natural preserves that are used for outreach and educational purposes (i.e., English Creek and Cockroach Bay Preserve).
HCC’s faculty and students are engaged internationally through travels to Denmark, Spain, and Belize where alternative energy and the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems are researched.
HCC English and Biology faculty on the Southshore campus collaborated with a local organic farm to develop a course in poetry and hydroponic gardening.
The Building Construction and Architecture program on the Dale Mabry campus embeds green building design principles into various courses.
Sustainability Council members are working with a local algae production facility to analyze their skilled labor needs.Faculty in architecture and building construction are creating earth boxes at the Dale Mabry Child Development Center so that children can grow and harvest herbs and vegetables for use in the culinary program. Preliminary discussions are also occurring with the Director of the Child Development Center on the Ybor campus where an urban garden is being planned.
The Institute of Corporate and Continuing Education and The Institute of Florida Studies deliver non-credit academic courses in the areas of weatherization and water/wastewater treatment respectively.
HCC offers an Associate of Science in Environmental Science.
In partnership with the School District and USF, HCC is developing Green Career Pathways that will allow students to seamlessly transition from one educational level to the next and receive “green” industry certifications along the way.
HCC engages students by offering sustainability-based co-curricular activities and aligning workforce training programs with emerging labor market needs in the green sector.
Working in partnership with the FL Dept. of Forestry, FL Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and FL Parks and Recreation, the Institute of Florida Studies coordinates a statewide program on Interagency Basic Prescribed Fire Training.
Community Engagement
Working in collaboration with the community organizations and partners, the Institute of Florida Studies helps to create, fund, and promote social entrepreneurship in the Tampa Bay region. Two current projects involve the non-profit organizations, Advocates for World Health and the Birdhouse Buying Club, which are lending expertise to the development of training materials and workshops that will serve as resources for entrepreneurs interested in launching financially viable and socially responsible organizations.
The Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education (ICCE) offers educational courses related to sustainable practices within private homes and organizations.
HCC’s arts faculty and the campus galleries promote sustainability by inviting local “green” artists to display and exhibit their work at HCC’s art gallery.
The Institute of Florida Studies offers several community interest programs (courses, workshops, seminars, etc.) to promote environmental outreach and education.
The Institute of Florida Studies and HCC Sustainability Council co-host Beyond Sustainability conference that attracts local, national and international audience. Community partners and sponsors are actively engaged in promoting this conference.
HCC students are actively engaged in volunteer efforts to promote sustainable living, creating intentional living communities, and local food.
Strategic Partnership
HCC partnered with Hillsborough County to secure a grant which funded the purchase of electric car charging stations.
Workforce programs at HCC work closely with industry partners to integrate green technologies into the curriculum. Most recently, industry representatives worked with faculty to add environmentally-friendly paint, and electric car systems, into the automotive technologies programs.
Members of HCC’s Sustainability Council serve with the Tampa Bay Partnership group to identify emerging workforce sectors. One of the primary sectors currently being explored is within the Marine Sciences.
HCC partnered with Zimride® to offer a rideshare option to students, faculty, and staff.
Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) and HCC’s partnership is critical in developing a 15-year plan to improve the regional mass transportation options. HCC’s Sustainability Specialist working closely with HART officials to represent our needs.
To create and develop a college wide waste management plan, HCC is partnering with Waste Management in formulating the most effective operational and educational solutions.
HCC in partnership with the National Council for Science and Environment is leading a national effort on creating a community college chapter of the NCSE to promote STEM curriculum, green career pathways, and collaborative funding opportunities.