To raise awareness of sustainability issues on campus and in our communities.
To conserve resources.
To reduce college carbon footprint.
To be a leader in our community in sustainability issues.

Sustainability at AWC

Sustainability efforts began on the Arizona Western College campus as a grassroots project by Environmental Science professor Ted Martinez, students, and other interested faculty and staff.  The group became an ad hoc council to review practices on campus, develop implementable sustainable practices, and to educate the campus and community on how to reduce its carbon footprint.

One of the initial projects involved the AWC/NAU-Yuma Science Club to start recycling on campus.  The club purchased large yellow garbage bins and painted them with the recycling symbol and set them out in high student traffic areas.  Club members volunteered their time to collect the recycling and put them into the large blue recycling bins in the parking lot next to the Child Development Learning Lab.

It was also during this time that the city of Yuma heard feedback from the community about adopting a citywide curbside recycling program.  Faculty, staff, and students from AWC attended town hall meetings to have their voices heard and to endorse the program.  All of the positive feedback eventually led the current curbside recycling in the city.

Recycling became an essential aspect of sustainability for AWC, especially with so many from the campus advocating the city for curbside recycling.  With the help of the Director of Facilities Management, Steve Eckert, the recycling program was taken over by facilities and expanded campus-wide. 

Since then, numerous projects have been initiated with the help of facilities to make AWC more sustainable replacement of regular light bulbs with LED, installation of solar powered sidewalk lights, initiation of the Turn It Off campaign, adding bulk water stations, using environmentally friendly cleaners, using paper towels and toilet paper made from 100% post-consumer products, installation of water saving devices in restrooms, and various other optimization projects for the buildings on campus.  This is all in addition to the installation of the 5 Megawatt solar arrays across the campus.  The Sustainability Council continues to work with facilities in fostering sustainable practices with the hope to also expand those practices with our sister campuses in San Luis and La Paz County.

The Sustainability Council hosts an annual Sustainability Fair on the AWC campus to help educate students and the community about sustainable practices with various community and student groups disseminating information on different ways to conserve the planet’s resources.  Partnerships between the community and AWC and event ideas are always welcome as they build a stronger voice in educating future generations for a greener earth.

Our Goals

  1. To raise awareness of sustainability issues on campus and in our communities.
  2. To educate our faculty, staff and students about how they can make an impact.
  3. To conserve resources.
  4. To reduce college carbon footprint.
  5. To be a leader in our community in sustainability issues.


Did you know that up to 75% of our trash is recyclable? Unfortunately, though, we only recycle 30% of our waste according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Why is it important to recycle? With most of our trash being recyclable, that means up to 75% less waste will be generated for our landfills and the recyclables are reused to reduce the consumption of natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals. With the reduction of making new materials, there is a saving in energy use and greenhouse emissions.

Here at Arizona Western College, we are educating our students and community about the importance of recycling to reduce our carbon footprint. Recycling began on the AWC campus as a student-led initiative through the Science Club. Club members would set up recycling bins in high traffic areas and volunteered their time to go collect the recycling to put in the big recycling bin next to CDLL in P4. Today, the recycling program is now run by Facilities and has expanded to provide as many different types of recycling bins possible across the AWC Yuma, San Luis, and Parker campuses.

Almost every type of packaging that we come in contact with (food, day to day products) is recyclable. Remember, up to 75% of our waste is recyclable.

So, what can we recycle?

Plastics (1-7)






What do you do when Yuma is named the sunniest place on earth by the Guinness World Records? GET SOLAR!!

Arizona Western College partnered with APS and other solar groups to install five 1-megawatt arrays across the campus. Most of the solar technologies were manufactured to be economically sustainable using mainly existing materials and will cover most of the college’s daytime electrical consumption. An official “Flip the Switch” campaign was implemented to turn on the solar panels on December 6, 2011.

Power generated from the AS roof solar panels can be seen at a kiosk in the front lobby of the Agricultural Science (AS) building. Environmental benefits are also listed on the kiosk with particular emphasis in the savings in greenhouse gases and the carbon offset measured in metric tons.

In conjunction with the solar technologies, AWC has also implemented a “Turn It Off” campaign to reduce the electrical usage across campus. The campaign encourages faculty and staff to turn off computers, projectors, printers, speakers, and lights when not in use or leaving the classroom or office.

Ag. Science Solar Panel Console

You can view the power generation of the Ag. Science solar panels online.

The solar arrays, “Turn It Off” campaign, and various optimization projects across campus that include the installation of LED light bulbs and solar sidewalk pathway lights have combined to save the college money in electrical utilities even though the college added numerous high tech equipment and 25,000 square feet of air conditioned space. The overall efforts of the electrical savings measures have helped the college offset its CO2 emissions and fossil fuels consumption with an added benefit of saving the college millions of dollars in electricity costs.

Electrical Savings

Costs Saving From 5MW & AS Solar Arrays
Fiscal Year Paid to APS kWh from APS Paid to 5MW Solar Array kWh from 5MW Solar Array Saved from 5MW Array kWh from (AS) Solar Array Saved from (AS) Solar Array
2011 $1,351,070 16,252,800 $0 0 NA 167,049 $13,887
2012 $1,103,845 11,632,800 $366,173 5,469,730 $152,854 136,220 $12,926
2013 $955,037 8,037,600 $652,097 9,545,802 $482,146 125,275 $14,885
2014 $951,501 7,656,000 $584,355 8,348,321 $453,189 89,207 $11,087
2015 $737,876 5,006,400 $617,491 8,773,641 $675,626 125,290 $18,466
2016 $668,609 3,448,800 $759,249 10,223,246 $1,222,702 156,998 $30,437
2017 $767,228 5,296,800 $719,175 9,293,755 $627,002 157,754 $22,850
2018 $771,157 4,776,000 $711,793 9,037,408 $747,432 154,858 $25,004
Totals $7,306,323 62,107,200 $4,410,333 60,691,903 $4,360,951 1,112,651 $149,542

The 5MW solar array is owned and operated by AES Energy. Electricity produced by the 5MW array is purchased at a costs saving by Arizona Western College.

Per Bulb Replacement on Yuma Campus
Location Old Wattage New Wattage Previous Annual Cost New Annual Cost Annual Savings
Eatery Food Prep & Salad 60W 4W $809 $54 $755
3C & ET 50W 8.7W $8,663 $1,507 $7,155
Art Gallery 120W 18W $686 $103 $583
Eatery Dining Area 20W 2W $424 $42 $381
Eatery Cooking Areas 75W 9.5W $809 $102 $706
3C Conference 50W 8.7W $963 $167 $795
Campus Wide Outdoor 90W 12.5W $7,285 $1,012 $6,273
KAWC & LR 65W 8W $1,502 $185 $1,317
TV Studio 40W 18W $329 $148 $181
Dorm Roof Lights 1500W 150W $4,336 $434 $3,903
Library Recess Cans 100W 8W $116 $9 $106
SC Building 50W 6W $308 $37 $271
Print Shop Area Lights 126W 40W $121 $39 $83
Shower Facility Exterior Wall Packs 70W 25W $67 $24 $43
BA 111 100W 14W $1,602 $224 $1,377
AC Exterior Lights 100W 25W $1,542 $72 $1,469
Amphitheater 90W 17W $30 $6 $24
Fitness Center Exterior Floods 742W 150W $2,145 $145 $2,000
Eatery CFL to LED retrofit 35W 9W $953 $245 $708
DS Exterior 100W 30W $578 $173 $405
Carpenter Shop Exterior 42W 11W $162 $42 $119
EB 110 100W 9W $297 $27 $271
Music 100W 30W $867 $260 $607

Below is a list of the many projects that have been successfully completed to improve electrical savings throughout all our locations.

  • Turn if off campaign- We encourage turning off any electrical devices and lights when not in use.
  • Electrical meter installation at 37 buildings- used to monitor and find anomalies
  • Solar pathway lighting
  • Installing light switches and timers in areas that never had them such as library
  • Reprogramming existing lighting controls
  • LED light retrofits such as fitness center- use LED as the standard for any new light fixtures
  • SCADAPack installation at pond pumps so they run at a variable speed
  • Removing a storage tank full of clams on landscaping water to reduce the load on pumps
  • Common area and classroom computer automatic shutdowns
  • Programming door openers for the minimum time opening
  • Repairing door sweeps and seals
  • Installing high-performance window tinting and frosting
  • Chilled water system optimization
  1. Smart valve installation- slowed down chilled water flow- delta went from 4 degrees up to
  2. VFD’s on chilled water pumps
  3. Chilled water storage tank commissioning
  4. Surge system computerized tracking
  • Service contracts with HVAC control companies
    1. HVAC building schedules and set points
    2. Air handler programming eliminating heat strips
    3. Outside air economizers
  • Plate and frame heat exchanger- allows to cool the chilled water during the cooler months instead of running the chillers
  • Computer server room AC change- more efficient unit

Below is a list of the current sustainability initiatives that have been implemented to meet our current goals.

  • Adding bulk water filling stations so people can use refillable water bottles instead of purchasing disposable water bottles.
  • Adding filters to drinking water stations to supply “bottled water” grade water to drinking fountains and bottle filling stations.
  • Use paper towels and bath tissue made up of 100% recycled post-consumer content.
  • Use environmentally friendly cleaners such as cleaners with natural enzymes.
  • Do not wax concrete floors any more so we don’t use chemical stripper every year to remove the wax and put down new wax.  We now polish the floor and seal it only.
  • Do not use a chemical stripper to remove floor wax anymore.  We use abrasive pads to remove the top layers of wax.  We remove fewer layers than the chemical stripper so we not only save on the chemical stripper; we use less wax as well.
  • Install water-free urinals in all new construction and remodels.
  • Removed battery powered paper towel dispensers and installed pull type paper towel dispensers to eliminate battery waste and cost.
  • Recycle all batteries, light bulbs, scrap metal, and electric motors.
  • Switching Air Conditioning refrigerants to more environmentally friendly ones.
  • Installed Variable Frequency Drives on pumps in the central plant so they use less electricity.
  • Installed “Smart Valves” on the chilled water system to regain over 250 tons in cooling capacity.
  • Have a “Turn it off” campaign to encourage people to turn off any lights, computers or equipment not being used.
  • Install solar pathway lights and area lighting.
  • Install high-performance window tint and frosting.
  • Check and repair door sweeps and seals to keep outside air out
  • Program automatic door openers for the minimum time opening to keep outside air out of the building
  • Have desk-side recycling as well as recycling containers all over campus.  We accept recycling materials from the surrounding community as well.
  • Have reusable containers for food service.
  • Have a 5mw solar generating station on site
  • Install light switches and timers in areas that did not have them so the lights are no longer on 24/7.
  • Program the HVAC systems to go into nighttime setbacks
  • A chilled water storage tank is charged at night when the electricity rates are lower, then we use that chilled water throughout the day to prevent a second chiller from turning on.
  • Use an outside air heat exchanger in the winter to produce chilled water instead of chillers
  • Use double-sided printing and copying on documents.  Copiers are set as double-sided as a default.
  • All common area and classroom computers shut down on a schedule every night and weekend.

While seeing electrical rates increase every year and while adding over 25,000 square feet of air conditioned space as well as adding high tech equipment in several instructional areas including a state of the art fume extraction system, we have avoided over 3.7 million dollars in electricity cost in the last 6 years through our electricity savings initiatives.

Alternative Transportation

Save on gas and money by leaving that car at home and taking the bus!

Arizona Western College has partnered with the Yuma County Area Transit (YCAT) to provide bus services to and from the Yuma campus. Bus routes go out to Fortuna/Foothills, San Luis, Quechan/Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, Winterhaven, downtown Yuma, and the mall. All of the available routes can be seen at the YCAT website: http://www.ycipta.org/.

AWC students pay a $5 fee (except for La Paz County residents) when they register for classes that cover six months of unlimited use of the YCAT during the semester they are registered for. AWC employees and Northern Arizona University-Yuma students can also participate in this program by paying the $5 fee to the AWC cashier or the NAU cashier, respectively. Once paid, a bus sticker is added to your AWC or NAU ID. Take advantage of this great service that saves you money and takes the stress out of driving.

Other transportation methods

If you cannot take the bus, please consider carpooling with classmates or coworkers. Reducing the number of cars on the road will decrease emissions and gas usage.

If you own a motorcycle, please ride in on this transportation method to save gas. Motorcycle owners have the advantage of better fuel efficiency to get more bang out of their buck on gas and with fewer fuel emissions. Motorcyclists also save money on vehicle maintenance versus a car. Park in multiple areas across campus designated for motorcycles. Some are even shaded.

If you live near AWC, please consider riding your bicycle to campus. There is a great health benefit to riding your bicycle to campus and, again, you will help reduce the number of cars coming onto campus, reduce fuel emissions, and save on gas usage and money. There are numerous bike racks located across campus to park and lock your bicycle (see map). For those who are cycling enthusiasts, please contact Benjamin Behunin (Benjamin.Behunin@azwestern.edu - Professor of Family Studies) about the Cycling Club.

Sustainability Fairs

The general public and AWC community are invited every year to stop by to learn various ways to help promote a sustainable environment for future generations. There are booths, demonstrations, music, food vendors and much more.

AWC shares their direction as a college and the actions they take to respect and protect our planet.

Sustainability Map

There are several refillable water stations on campus.

Refillable Water Stations

Most buildings on campus have multiple recycle bins.

Recycle Bins

Most buildings on campus have a bicycle rack.

Bicycle Racks

The YCAT provides an alternative form of transportation.


Click an icon on the map to learn more.

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