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Orange Coast College Recycling Center Becomes First Project to Earn SITES, LEED, and TRUE Zero Waste Certifications

Image Courtesy of the OCC Recycling Center

The Orange Coast College (OCC) Recycling Center – already a LEED Gold certified building – has taken sustainability initiatives to a new level by recently achieving SITES Gold and TRUE Zero Waste Platinum certification. The center is also the first project in California to earn SITES v2 certification. Over the past 5 years, a team of sustainability experts has been working on plans to develop the outside space at the recycling enter, which has served the OCC and its surrounding community for over 45 years.

The resulting project was truly a collaborative community effort. To prepare for the design, the local community was polled and asked about what types of programs and amenities they wanted the recycling center to include. They shared an interest in use of native plants, public art, interpretive signage, community opportunities and tours, as well as a desire for information on how to be more sustainable and make living spaces greener, organic gardening and native plant programs.

The results were integrated into the design of the landscape, which focused on incorporating environmentally friendly elements while also increasing public environmental education and active demonstrations of sustainability. The project boasts a wide variety of environmental education opportunities and serves as a great example for how sustainable landscapes can enhance learning and the world around us.

The three-acre project includes a native plant garden that features desert willow, Tecate cypress and California live oak trees, milkweed, black and white sage, California wild rose, fuchsia gooseberry and more. The public garden is designed to attract and protect native wildlife, including the declining monarch butterfly which depends on milkweed for the survival of its caterpillars. The center also features rotating exhibits of public art created by OCC art students that are made from recycled materials.

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