By Stephanie Thara
CSU Public Affairs
After quickly lacing up my sneakers, splashing my face with water from one of UC Davis’ flow-restrictor sinks and filling up my water bottle at the “hydration station” in the dorms, I sprinted to the designated meeting spot where I met up with fellow CSU, CCC and UC colleagues for a 6 a.m. run, which kick started our days of learning about sustainable practices.
During the 2012 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC), students, faculty and staff from the 23 California State Universities, 112 California Community Colleges and 10 Universities of California gathered together to discuss green best practices and how to efficiently weave sustainability into the campus and community.
The morning run was just one of many activities available during the week-long conference. CHESC offered workshops, seminars, summits and field trips where participants were able to create their own itinerary to fit their interests and needs. Current and recently graduated students were able to meet with industry executives to learn about the need for green jobs and gain tips on how to “get your foot in the door” during the Green Panel Conference.
University leaders shared their projects with green industry professionals and the higher education community during the poster sessions. Paul Wingco (right), CSULB energy and sustainability manager, and Wesley Woelfel (left), CSULB assistant professor, told me how Woefel’s design methodology class prevented a potential campus ban on water bottles by implementing hydration centers throughout campus. The class created mock up stations around campus, polled students about what features needed to be changed and adapted the models accordingly. The hydration stations have been approved by the campus, with one built earlier this year and five more slated to be constructed in the next year.
I listened to researchers communicate their findings about topics such as global warming, campus environmental planning, composting, and water management during the education sessions. Professors and staff with a sustainable niche learned about an array of green practices implemented throughout UC Davis and local organizations during the walking and biking tours of the student farm, winery, residential housing and dining (pictured below), honey bee haven garden, and the California Lighting Technology Center, among others.
During the CSU Sustainability Summit, I heard CSU environmental experts explain what measures are being initiated on campus and systemwide updates relating to funding and current projects. Green campus leaders also shared best practices for implementing sustainable programs, such as partnering with advertisers for bike sharing programs or using databases to obtain grants for research.
I ended my sustainability adventure under the stars during the “True Tales of the Universe Stargazing Tour,” where a handful of students, faculty and staff from all three California higher education systems came together to learn about how being conservative and turning off lights allowed constellations like Cassiopeia and Gemini to shine through the sky.