Officials unveil new eco-friendly plans for college


Construction for the new Behavioral & Social Science Building and the Arts Complex on Tuesday, May 12 via a livestream on the El Camino College website. The debris from the demolition of the old Student Services Building is being recycled to make concrete.

A new eco-friendly plan, that would include solar panels and help lower ongoing operational costs at ECC is being developed, officials said.

Executive Director of Facilities Planning and Services Jorge Gutierrez discussed a new sustainability plan in development during a recent College Council meeting on Monday, May 4 via Zoom.

The new plan seeks to minimize the cost of operations, as well as provide the school with new ecologically-beneficial improvements, Gutierrez said.

“It was developed for the campus community by campus staff, students and other stakeholders,” Gutierrez said during the meeting. “The goals include to reduce the ongoing operational costs. It also identifies goals that will minimize the impact of climate change.”

One of the more prominent implementations of the plan during the meeting, was the use of recycling and reduction of waste; which Gutierrez said would heavily involve the remains of the old, recently demolished Student Services Building.

“In demolition of the old Student Services Building, we have over 16,000 tons of concrete that will be reused as aggregate and fill material,” Gutierrez said. “As well as 470 tons of metal that will be transported for recycling use.”

Gutierrez told The Union that instead of hauling the debris to dump sites, everything has stayed within the construction area and is “essentially being recycled.”

The sustainability plan also includes a pursuit for the college to finance new energy sources, like the installation of solar panels.

“We conducted a feasibility study to determine the appropriate locations throughout the campus for solar panel and battery installation,” Gutierrez said. “This included parking lots and roof spaces.”

Should ECC go forward with this plan, Gutierrez concludes that the college will be able to save over $10 million, over a 20-year period, with the installment of solar panels across campus.

The most likely areas in which the solar panels will be installed, according to Gutierrez, will include parking lots L, J, and K.

“We did examine lots F, E, C, B, and H,” Gutierrez said. “But we determined that they were not feasible, due to structural issues and costs being affected. Also the size of the panels would make it unsafe for vehicles to travel through.”

Gutierrez added that ECC has already installed solar-panel-attached picnic tables on campus.

The sustainability plan was, overall, met with positive responses by the College Council.

“I think the timing, now, is even more appropriate because of the technology that’s gone into making solar energy more affordable,” ECC President and Superintendent Dena Maloney said.

Debbie Turano senior clerical assistant for Facilities Planning and Services, shared similar perspectives However, if ECC goes forward with solar energy, she sees a visible flaw.

“It’s been something I’ve been advocating for years now [solar energy],” Turano said. “I think it’s a good idea. But I’m sure that there will be some people who’ll be against it, because they’re not exactly pleasing to the eye.”

ECC Council will be meeting again via Zoom on Monday, May 18.