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By Hector Gonzalez
Special to The Lookout

November 17, 2015 -- By reusing most of what restaurants and mall food courts ordinarily toss away, Santa Monica College's resource management program earned the Leadership Award at the recent 2015 Green Schools and Colleges Summit.

SMC was the only California community college to win an award in the category, officials announced last week.

Ferris Kawar, SMC's sustainability project manager, said he was delighted by the recognition, which was presented to the college during the two-day summit in Pasadena.

“Before coming to SMC, I was a recycling specialist for the city of Burbank,” said Kawar. “You can imagine my delight to learn of everything SMC had been doing to reduce its waste over the past 20 years.”

Held October 29-30, the educational conference put the spotlight on the strategies and best practices schools and colleges are setting in place to reduce their carbon emissions.

The Leadership Award, presented to SMC by nonprofit Green Technology, recognized the college for successfully establishing a resource management program through SMC's Center for Environmental and Urban Studies and Facilities Department, officials said.

SMC’s three composting systems have collectively diverted more than 54 tons of food waste since 2001. Utensils are compostable, and the college provides recycling and compost collection bins at all student events.

Each year, SMC provides an eight-week “green-living” workshop, and the college also offers a green curriculum that includes certification in recycling and resource management.

“We’ve led the nation in having one of the first and largest campus worm composting machines and one of the only recycling certificate programs,” said Kawar.

The summit provided a forum where education and government officials could meet and talk with those in the private sector who are developing and distributing green technologies, Green Technology officials said.

It featured workshops by the Metropolitan Water District, UCLA, the California Energy Commission, and numerous private companies, and covered such topics as “Grades of Green: How to Green Your School” and “Implementing a Green Curriculum: Strategies and Success Stories.”

Along with SMC's award for resource management, other Leadership Award categories included instructors/professors, student engagement, green building and energy.

SMC is one of the greenest campuses in the country, college officials said. It offers a number of environment-focused degrees and certificates.

In October 2014, the college became the first community college in the state and one of only two nationally to earn a “bronze” designation as a bike-friendly campus from the League of American Bicyclists.

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