Sustainability Projects

The Sustainability Office is here for you: the students and campus community at North. Whether you have an idea to capture the rainwater trickling off your building, a way to capture solar power on campus, or anything in between, we would love to talk to you and help make your idea a reality!


Beginning in early 2013, we have begun focusing office projects into four thematic categories that represent our focus:

  • Built Environment
  • Energy – Transportation
  • Grounds – Food – Water
  • Waste

Using these themes to guide our involvement in projects, we feel we can maximize the impact of this office, and the resources we have to promote and implement sustainability projects on campus. Throughout this page, you will find examples of past projects we have helped to develop and support, projects we are currently working on, and projects that are in the earliest stages of development, some merely a distant dream.

When it comes to working with and representing the wonderful students, faculty, administration, and staff that help make our work possible, every aspect of both the process and the outcome are of the upmost importance to this office. Our commitment to Sustainability lies both within our internal structure, as well as within the projects and people we have the honor and privilege of supporting. Feel free to come in to the office anytime, and see our Get Involved page for more information about project development and bringing a project proposal to the office / committee.

Take a look below to learn more about our projects: 

Did you know, not only is it damaging to the environment to throw away batteries in the trash, but in many cases, it is also illegal? Throwing batteries in the landfill waste can threaten human health and the environment.

Because most batteries contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury, when they are thrown into the landfill the chemicals leak into the soil and contaminate nearby parks, water tables, and the air. About 179,000 tons of batteries end up in American landfills each year. The heavy metals and toxic materials that are found in both disposable and reusable batteries pose numerous heath and ecological risks when they are disposed of improperly. So what can you do to make sure your batteries aren’t having a negative impact on our environment?

Bring them to us! Since 2010, the Sustainability Office has been your campus resource for all types of refuse and waste issues, including battery recycling. We are happy to collect any batteries you may have laying around that you do not know what to do with. This includes all disposable and most rechargeable batteries, although we cannot accept any liquid-based batteries, such as automotive lead-acid batteries (for automotive batteries, the vast majority of retailers which sell automotive batteries also recycle them).

Just bring your used up batteries to the Sustainability Office, in the college center room CC1355B, anytime between 10am-2pm, Monday thru Friday, or contact us to arrange a different time.d reusable batteries pose numerous heath and ecological risks when they are disposed of improperly. So what can you do to make sure your batteries aren’t having a negative impact on our environment?

We dispose of the batteries at the North Seattle Hazardous Waste Collection facility, or partner with other organizations for particular battery types. For full information about what is accepted at the North Seattle Hazardous Waste Collection facility, please visit their website, at

For all other questions, feel free to stop by or call our office at (206) 934-6127.

Ever been on campus with a flat bicycle tire, and no other way to get home? What about wanting to make a seat adjustment so your commute is a bit more comfortable? The Sustainability Office at North is proud to announce that our public bike maintenance and repair station is installed and fully functional! It is located just west of the main entrance to the College Center building, underneath the overpass next to the security office and red bike racks.

The bike stand, manufactured by Dero Bike Rack Inc., is a wonderful all-in-one tool for everything from changing a tire or tube, to swapping out your pedals. It contains a full set of allen wrenches, various sized flat wrenches, tire levers, derailleur tools, a bike pump, and an integrated stand so your bike may hang freely while performing adjustments. We encourage everyone, experienced with bike repair or simply interested in learning more, to come by and take a look at the new stand.

At the beginning of the quarter we will begin hosting informal Q and A sessions at the bike stand with bike maintenance experts, so that those who wish to learn about bike maintenance can come learn the basics of bike repair in a hands on, fun environment!

If you have any questions about using the bike repair stand, or anything else related to Sustainability efforts on campus, stop by the Sustainability Office and say hello, we'd love to hear from you! For detailed instructions for many types of bicycle repair, visit and get started with all of bike maintenance needs.

Former North student Dennis Skarr had a vision—modify exercise equipment for making energy while working out instead of taking energy. He began to brainstorm a variety of options to integrate and promote energy-producing technology onto a spin bike. He decided that the greatest gain was to generate student awareness, in addition to electrical power. With the help and support of the Sustainability Committee and Campus Sustainability Coordinator, Christian Rusby, the EcoBike was born.

The design of the EcoBike was to be clean, simple and safe. The look of the EcoBike had to seamlessly blend into our gym, not stand out as a mad scientist student project. A clear plexiglass cover was installed to allow students to see the simplicity of the components added to a standard spin bike. Also, a “Think More, Waste Less” educational display gives the user a basic concept of how much energy is being offset by using the EcoBike and serves as a book or computer holder. The EcoBike features several ports to charge personal electronics during the workout including a laptop, e-reader, iPod or cell phone! The EcoBike is easily maintained and has potential to be upgraded by future students at North.

“Critics often ask what the return on investment is, and I reply, Fitness!! – plus you experience what energy awareness means, AND you offset power consumed within the gym. What is the return on investment on typical gym equipment that consumes 400 watts with no one using it?” Dennis asks. A veteran of multiple tours in Afghanistan, and outspoken advocate for greater veteran support, Dennis believes veterans are ideal candidates for working in the energy sector. As he points out, “Energy is a major national security issue that isn’t really talked about,” and veterans are perfectly poised to fill in the gaps in the quickly growing race to gain national energy security.

Quick Facts: Dennis has received great acclaim for the EcoBike, and we in the Sustainability Office could not be more proud of how the project has progressed, and what it represents for the Office. The EcoBike is currently being prepared to be part of a month-long energy awareness campaign at Joint Base Lewis McCord, where it will be rotated throughout four different gym facilities at the base for the month of October.

  • The 36-volt generator flows into a grid-tied inverter designed for solar panels.
  • A DC/AC converter was installed to charge 5 and 12 volt gadgets like iPods and laptops.
  • The greater RPM’s on the spin bike, the more watts the EcoBike makesto offset what the other gym equipment is taking.
  • At a modest pace the rider produces approximately 50 watts with bursts of up to 130 watts.
  • The total cost for equipment and parts to modify an existing bike was around $550.

Sustainability has been a core value of North Seattle College for many years now, and is crucial to advancing our mission of changing lives through education. Over the past four years, since the inception of the Sustainability Office at North, we have had the opportunity to engage students and the campus community in projects that not only increase sustainability on campus, but strive to make our campus a hub for sustainability education and leadership in the region.

As part of advancing sustainability in our region, did you know that in 2011, four Blink Electric Vehicle charging stations were installed here at North Seattle College? Their installation was part of a nationwide Department of Energy funded project known as the EV Project. Its goal is to create a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations, such that the electric vehicle expands beyond its use as a commuter vehicle. Given our location directly adjacent to I-5, North was chosen as a prime site for installing four of these chargers.

So if you are an electric vehicle owner, come to North and show it off! Thinking of upgrading vehicles? Now you know that our campus is an ideal environment for owning an electric vehicle, and getting the most out of it. Want to take a look at the chargers, or just learn a bit more about electric vehicles? Stop by the Sustainability Office in the College Center Building, room CC1355B, or take a stroll to see the chargers yourself. They are located in the parking lot directly west of the Library building.

Charging fees vary between $1-2 per hour of charging time depending on your membership to the Blink Network. Full information and links to the EV Project can be found at Hope to see you EV owners out there and charging!

Energy and resource use within our built environment is a driving force behind much of sustainability movement. Recent advancements in both construction techniques and materials have allowed for huge steps forward regarding green building, and we at North are proud to be putting our best footprint forward. Beginning with the Opportunity Center for Employment and Education (OCE&E), and continuing with the Health Sciences and Student Resource (HSSR) building, our commitment to sustainability within the structure of our campus continues to be put on display via these two amazing buildings.

OCE&E – Opportunity Center for Employment & Education Efficiency and a high level of service for customers of the OCE&E building were primary drivers of the design process, ultimately resulting in the building receiving a LEED Gold Certification. Sustainability of not only the building itself but the integration of education, employment, and social services is viewed as the best solution to serving the needs of OCE&E customers. The project responded to emerging trends in employment and social services by serving a wide range of job seekers in an environment that integrates employment and social service programs with basic skills education, workforce education, and academic programs.

In terms of design, construction, and implementation, the project has been a champion of sustainable development. Over 98% of the construction waste created by the project was diverted from landfills and either reused or recycled, and over 20% of the building materials were made from recycled content, reducing the need for extracting virgin resources and materials for the build process.

Features such as the green roof and rain gardens contribute to onsite stormwater management, and have helped us to retain the health of the groundwater on campus, as we sit at the headwaters of Thornton Creek. Large south facing windows, advanced energy management systems, and integrative building techniques were utilized with great success throughout the project. We are extremely happy to have this beautiful addition to our campus, and along with it, a commitment to pushing the envelope of sustainable building systems. If you would like to learn more about the building’s features, or go on a self-guided walking tour, feel free to come by our office and pick up a ‘Green Features’ walking tour guide of the OCE&E building, or download one below:

OCE&E Walking Tour Pamphlet

HSSR – Health Sciences & Student Resources

Our second LEED certified building on campus will be the Health Sciences & Student Resource building, aiming to achieve LEED Gold Certification within one year of opening. The project includes the comprehensive renovation of the northern two-thirds of the existing building and a 23,100 square foot steel framed rooftop addition. This will create a 46,600 square foot facility, extending the life of the building for more than 40 years. The rooftop addition will allow for increased instructional lab and classroom space on campus. As sustainability in our communities is vitally important to the success of this school, we anticipate that the project will generate approximately 370 construction-related jobs.

The HSSR building will contain a Human Biology and Science Center including a lab for anatomy, physiology and biology with an integrated prep area; a Learning Center to centralize and consolidate the College’s tutoring programs and promote student success; a Food Services function; and space for student gathering.

The new building will be a cutting-edge facility that helps fill the skills gap in increasing the capacity to train and educate students for high-demand jobs. The building itself will feature a number of ‘green’ features already highlighted in our OCE&E building, including filtered water-bottle fill-up stations, advanced energy distribution systems, and the potential of housing an energy-monitoring kiosk, in which users may look at real-time metrics and visualizations of energy and resource use on campus at a given time. Additionally, the building will feature three large water-collecting cisterns, designed to collect rain water and distribute it throughout the plumbing systems to fill up the toilets, cutting down significantly on water consumption within the building.

Both of these buildings highlight the direction this college is moving with its commitment to sustainability in all aspects of campus life.

The i-Trees project started in the fall of 2010 as a method for quantifying the forests on campus so as to better educate the long-term decision making for the use of the grounds and the value of trees on campus. The completed project will strengthen the urban forest management of the campus, establish North as an i-Tree user expert in the community, and lead to possible future economic and ecological benefits to the school and community.

From the student’s vantage point, this project was designed to engage students from across many departments of the college to work together through co-curricular education, have students build on each other’s work from quarter to quarter, and deliver data to help guide the North administration to improve landscape management of our campus. Trees provide tremendous economic, social and environmental benefits and serve as the backbone of a mature ecological system. Without quantifying these benefits, North is unable to manage them as effectively as possible. Earthcorps was hired as technical experts and advisors for conducting a tree inventory on our campus to provide a baseline of ecological service provided by nature to our campus.

Spring 2010 Two students, Russell Walker and Chris Kistner, responded to a request from the Sustainability Office to create a tree inventory guide as part of their technical writing course. This class assignment resulted in a comprehensive 50-page tutorial and reference guide for future students to inventory trees on campus (available via link below).

Summer - Fall 2010

Many students, staff, and community volunteers worked together through the summer and fall to inventory over 1300 trees representing roughly half of our campus area. Surveyors collected data on tree height, trunk diameter, species, crown spread, location, and health to determine ecological benefits from each tree. These data will be evaluated to generate financial, stormwater management, and carbon sequestration services provided by our campus trees. Winter - Spring 2011 Students entered collected data in to a Geographic Information System (GIS) database to allow future spatial analysis of the tree data. The NSCC Sustainability Office and Earthcorps determined the best approach to inventory the remaining trees by Fall 2011. Summer 2011 - Winter 2012 Students inventoried the remaining campus trees and added them to the GIS database. These data were analyzed to determine avoided costs for stormwater management, increased property value, and qualify the college for tax credits available from the City of Seattle. See the Stormwater Assessment project on the left side of this page for more information about the Stormwater tax credit. Future Expansion Future students will build on this project by refining data and monitoring tree health and function as part of a larger ecosystem. Ground cover, soil, and climatic data will be added to the database will complement the tree inventory and create the opportunities to analyze how our constructed campus compares with more natural historic ecosystems on the site. Environmental quality from these two periods will be used for reference to strategically plan policies and practices to maximize services delivered by our natural resources while minimizing ecological impact on the campus grounds and adjacent ecosystems.

The Licton Springs P-Patch started as a student-driven initiative at North Seattle College, and has become fully realized over the course of the last 2-3 years as funds from the City of Seattle Parks and Green Spaces Levy were awarded to the project in 2012. Now, with amazing engagement from the North and Licton Springs Communities, we are nearly completed with the project! With a last, final push over the summer of 2013, North will be the proud sponsor and land provider for the Licton Springs P-Patch.

This is an historic accomplishment, and marks the first successful partnership between the State of Washington (by way of North Seattle College) and the City of Seattle in order to build a P-Patch Community Garden.

As the largest municipally-managed community gardening program in the country outside New York City, the P-Patch program manages 81 gardens with 2650 plots, serving over 6100 gardeners across the city. We at North Seattle College could not be more proud of this new addition to our campus, and what it represents to the importance of urban agriculture and sustainability within food systems.

For more information about volunteering, events, and general p-patch activities, please visit the official Licton Springs P-Patch by following the link below, and Laura Sweany, P-Patch project manager can be reach at

Happy Gardening!