Orange Coast College Recycling Center


Costa Mesa, CA
United States

Project Size
3 acres
Project type
Institutional / Educational
Site Context
Former Land Use
Previously Developed
Terrestrial Biome
Project overview

In their continued efforts to provide public environmental education and active demonstrations of sustainability, the OCC Recycling Center has achieved this unprecedented milestone in sustainability for the outdoor environment surrounding this busy, active recycling facility.

The OCC SITES Gold certified project helps educate the public and students about the many environmentally-friendly elements incorporated into the outdoor space at the recycling center, and proves that incorporate 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 which has been 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 students of Architecture
  • Recycled Water/Retention Basin
  • The Bioswale/Arroyo Demonstration Area
  • Composting and Recycling Areas


The SITES project team was led by the OCC Recycling Center Sustainability Director, Mike Carey, and included a key integrated design team from the college Landscape Architecture, Horticulture, Grounds Supervision, Community Support, Finance, Art and Administration departments as well as expert SITES and sustainability consultants from verde, Byline7 and Michael Baker International.

"The OCC 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. We believe in creating an environment in which we can not only talk about a sustainable future, but demonstrate the benefits to our students and community.” - Rich Pagel, Vice President of Administrative Services and key member of the SITES Project team.