Let’s Lead on Climate: Higher Education Success Story, Santa Fe Community College

Preparing the Workforce of the Next Generation for Green Jobs


lead on climateA student gets a tour of SFCC’s adsorber, which converts solar energy into chilled water


Santa Fe Community College is committed to addressing climate change as an invaluable component of Santa Fe’s 25-year Sustainability Plan. The College established the SFCC Trades and Advanced Technology Center (TATC), a hub for cutting-edge technology that reduces the campus’ carbon footprint. The Center is the core development and training resource to support the College’s critical initiatives. The TATC is a LEED Platinum state-of-the-art-facility that includes clean energy systems, living laboratories, food and fuel production, water recycling, and energy-efficient lighting and design.

lead on climateStudents raise a variety of produce in the Controlled Environment Agriculture Program’s geodesic dome


The facility has two national “Centers of Excellence” designated in 2012 by the Department of Labor for biofuels, green building and energy efficiency (and includes multiple laboratories). Today, students have the opportunity to learn hands-on skills related to algae cultivation, aquaponics, bioenergy, biofuels, energy efficiency, and more in real-world environments.

A student monitors biofuel production


The college also established sustainability programs in 19 high schools and has outreach efforts in place with local tribes and rural communities. Collectively, SFCC is making a positive impact on its community, students, and city. The city’s Sustainability Plan aims to position Santa Fe as carbon neutral by 2040. With SFCC’s innovative technologies offerings poised to create green jobs, and the college committed to preparing scholars for futures in sustainable development, the city is well on its way to strive toward the 2040 goal.

The Challenge

Recent budget cuts at the state level have reduced the college’s ability to network, communicate, and contribute to the national dialogue on sustainability.


As the winner of the 2017 Association of American Community Colleges and Solution Generation Climate Leadership Awards, SFCC is using the award money to send SFCC faculty, staff, and students to relevant conferences and professional development activities so they can continue to stay ahead of the curve and connected with like-minded colleagues around the nation.


SFCC promotes sustainable technologies as a driver of economic growth, new jobs, and as a way to reduce the carbon footprint for the College. Partnerships with private cutting-edge researchers and entrepreneurs will give students exceptional internship opportunities. The college looks toward a bright future as it works to establish a 50-acre energy center to achieve a carbon-neutral campus. Says SFCC President Randy Grissom, “Our goal is to reach 100 percent renewable energy and to have 60 percent fresh food and fish production for use on the campus.”

Randy Grissom, President of Santa Fe Community College


The Climate Leadership Awards Program was created to identify American higher education institutions taking the lead on climate change communication and engagement. Solution Generation, a program of ecoAmerica, partnered with the American Association of Community Colleges to deliver the 2017 award to Santa Fe Community College.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the following participants, receiving Honorable Mention: Madisonville Community College, Community College of Allegheny County, College of Lake County, Norwalk Community College, Cedar Valley College, El Paso Community College, Gateway Technical College, Central Community College, Pima County Community College District (PCC), Hopkinsville Community College, Community College of Baltimore County, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and Portland Community College.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *