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Mar 18
Orange Coast College Recycling Center Achieves First SITES V2 Certification in CA

​The Orange Coast College (OCC) Recycling Center — already a LEED Gold certified building — is taking sustainability initiatives to a new level by achieving the first Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES) v2 certification in California. Owned and administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), SITES is the most comprehensive program for designing, developing and maintaining sustainable landscapes.

In its continued efforts to provide public environmental education and active demonstrations of sustainability, OCC's Recycling Center has achieved this unprecedented milestone in sustainability for the outdoor environment surrounding the busy, active recycling facility. "The OCC Recycling Center's dedication to creating a sustainable landscape for their community represents tremendous leadership in sustainable landscape design and development," said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of U.S. Green Building Council and GBCI. "By achieving LEED and SITES certification, OCC is proving their commitment to being green stewards not only in their building design and construction, but also with their attention and focus to creating a high performing, educational outdoor space. SITES has the power to transform land development to create a more sustainably built environment, and projects like this will play a critical role."  

OCC's SITES Gold certified project helps educate the public and students about the many environmentally friendly elements incorporated in the outdoor space at the Recycling Center, and proves that incorporating sustainability is possible even in the confines of an active recycling center. Key public areas of the project include the following:

  • A native plant garden designed to attract Monarch butterflies in the outside medians in front of the Recycling Center
  • Interpretive signage that illustrates the reclaimed water reuse system and conservation of potable water in the native plant garden
  • Rotating exhibits of public art created by OCC art students, made from recycled materials displayed at the Recycling Center

During special events, tours and other community activities, the public is invited to learn about and access the many other sustainable areas of the site including:

  • Reflective pavement art within the community event area
  • On-site food production gardens used in the Culinary Arts Department
  • The Tea House designed by architecture students
  • Recycled water/retention basin
  • The Bioswale/Arroyo demonstration area
  • Composting and recycling areas


"OCC's Recycling Center has been a leader in Orange County's sustainability world for nearly five decades and we are extremely excited to be the first SITES v2 certified project in the State of California," said Rich Pagel, Vice President of Administrative Services and key member of the SITES Project team. "We believe in creating an environment in which we can not only talk about a sustainable future, but also demonstrate the benefits to our students and community."

The SITES project team was led by OCC Recycling Center Sustainability Coordinator Mike Carey and included a key integrated design team from the College's landscape architecture, horticulture, grounds supervision, community support, finance, art and administration departments and programs, as well as expert SITES and sustainability consultants from Verde, Byline7 and Michael Baker International. 

Final phases of art installation and signage currently are under way, and the Center is planning a plaque dedication ceremony as part of Orange Coast College's Green Coast Day on April 17, during the week prior to Earth Day. 

OCC's Recycling Center represents the first SITES certification in California under the SITES v2 Rating System, and joins other projects in the state certified under the earlier SITES pilot rating system. The Center also will be seeking triple certification of LEED Gold, SITES Gold and TRUE Zero Waste certification in 2019.


About the OCC Recycling Center. The OCC Recycling Center is one of the largest, most active recycling centers in Orange County.  The facility has been a part of the OCC campus for nearly five decades, dedicated to the creation of a more sustainable environment.  The facility is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily, with the opportunity to recycle and visit between those hours free of charge. The OCC Recycling Center is located on Adams Avenue in Costa Mesa, between Pinecreek and Fairview.  Visit the website at: and check social media for tours and event information   


About the Sustainable SITES Initiative. The SITES rating system is based on the understanding that land is a crucial part of our built environment and by fostering its resiliency we elevate its economic, environmental and social benefits. SITES creates regenerative systems and fosters resiliency; ensures future resource supply and mitigates climate change; transforms the market through design, development and maintenance practices; and enhances human wellbeing and strengthens the community. SITES is owned and administered by Green Business Certification Inc., and was originally developed through a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. The rating system can be applied to development projects located on sites with or without buildings and draws on the experience gained from a two-year pilot program involving more than 100 projects. Projects that have achieved certification include corporate headquarters, national and city parks, academic campuses and streetscapes. Learn more at


About Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). GBCI is the premier organization independently recognizing excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally. Established in 2008, GBCI exclusively administers project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED green building rating systems, as well as the PEER standard for power systems, the WELL building standard, the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES), Parksmart, EDGE and the GRESB benchmark, which is used by institutional investors to improve the sustainability performance of the global property sector. Through rigorous certification and credentialing standards, GBCI drives adoption of green business practices, which fosters global competitiveness and enhances environmental performance and human health benefits.