Reaching higher at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center

The group tours CRCC's main campus.

The group tours CRCC’s main campus.

SPP Peer to Peer gathering

By Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Network Manager
All photos by Kelly Frakes, Capitol Programs

Twenty-two people gathered at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (CRCC) for a two-day, high-intensity meeting at the end of June. This was a “peer to peer” event, funded in part by the SPP Network Conference Grant from the National Science Foundation. To make plans for CRCC’s sustainability programs, we brought experts (“peers”) in sustainability from Airway Heights Corrections Center and Washington State Penitentiary, WA Department of Ecology, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), and SPP staff from Washington Department of Corrections headquarters and The Evergreen State College. Many of CRCC’s administrative and operations staff joined the meeting, and they proved both gracious hosts and willing subjects.

The state of the art laundry facility at CRCC reclaims heat and water at multiple steps.

The state of the art laundry facility at CRCC reclaims heat and water at multiple steps.

The first order of business for the visitors was learning about CRCC’s campus and existing sustainability programs. CRCC’s main complex is Washington’s newest prison, opened in 2009. It holds the distinction of being the only LEED Gold Certified prison campus in the country. Linda Glasier from WA Ecology related that the extra costs incurred by meeting LEED Gold standards was paid back in about six months (through energy savings), and that CRCC is one of the state’s most resource-efficient complexes. This infrastructure could be the foundation for surpassing sustainable operations programs in a prison.

The central yard at CRCC reflects the need to use no water for irrigation. The prison is located in a desert.

CRCC is located in a desert. The stark central yard reflects the standard of using little-to-no water for irrigation.

One of the challenges faced by CRCC is How to bring nature inside without using more water?

One of the challenges faced by CRCC is How to bring nature inside without using more water?

After an initial welcome and setting the stage, the group toured many areas of the expansive campus: kitchen, warehouse, laundry, textile shop, a living unit, the main yard, and waste collection sites. We also visited the recycling center, housed in the older, minimum security area. All were impressed by the rigorous sorting and the impressive reductions in waste already accomplished. All were also impressed by the extreme heat outside—even though we were not in the heat of summer, many bodies were wilting in the hot, arid environment!

Kelley Thompson who runs the recycling center for CRCC shared the impressive programming already in place.

Shelley Thompson who runs the recycling center for CRCC shared the impressive operations already in place.

Graph showing CRCC's waste reductions over a four year period. Graphic courtesy of Kelley Thompson.

Graph showing CRCC’s waste reductions over a four year period. Graphic courtesy of Shelley Thompson.

Day two of the gathering was devoted to a marathon meeting. The group participated in a “brain dump,” committing to paper their ideas for sustainability programming. We also heard from our visiting experts. Linda Glasier from Ecology encouraged CRCC not to talk about “waste”. The materials called “waste” are actually commodities, and there are better uses and destinations for those resources than the landfill. Along similar lines, Sergeant Resor from the Correctional Facility at JBLM advised the group to “throw nothing away!”

The results of the brain dump were organized into topics, and the group voted to determine three top priorities for action:

  • Elimination of single-use plastics
  • Zero net waste
  • Education and culture change

With determination and focus, the group crafted action plans for the three initiatives. We emphasized immediate next steps and short term goals. We left the meeting with concrete commitments to further building on the already-excellent sustainability programs at CRCC.

"Sustainability guru" for CRCC, Sam Harris, talks with Linda Glasier from WA Dept. of Ecology and JBLM's Solid Waste & Recycling Program Manager Ron Norton.

“Sustainability guru” for CRCC, Sam Harris, talks with Linda Glasier from WA Dept. of Ecology and JBLM’s Solid Waste & Recycling Program Manager Ron Norton.

1 Comment:

  1. CRCC Roots Course Leads to Inmate Interest in Sustainability | Sustainability in Prisons Project

    […] During SPP’s “peer to peer” planning event in June, education and culture change was one of the top three priorities voted for CRCC’s sustainable programming.  Educating inmates on environmental literacy through programs like Roots of Success is but one step towards that goal. CRCC is the nation’s first LEED Gold prison, and  since the structure itself is already so sustainable it presents a unique challenge to find ways to improve. […]

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