CSU Voices and Views

Student Power (Save)

By Erik Fallis
CSU Public Affairs

Student power is leading the way on saving power on California State University campuses. CSU Chico, CSU Fullerton, Humboldt State, CSU Long Beach, Cal Poly Pomona, CSU San Bernardino, San Diego State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo each host PowerSave Green Campus Programs dedicated to student-driven energy efficiency education. The programs are supported by the Alliance to Save Energy – a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency worldwide through research, education and advocacy. Currently, PowerSave Green Campus Programs employ more than 100 interns each year.

Joining the League

A little friendly competition goes a long way. Two CSU Chico residence halls (Shasta and Lassen) competed against each other in Wildcat Sustainability Showdown – an effort to reduce energy use. Simultaneously, the halls advanced their campus bid in a competition against ten other campuses as a league in the Campus Conservation Nationals. PowerSave Green Campus interns and their network of volunteers informed and encouraged their peers throughout the competition. CSU Chico residence halls cut energy consumption by nearly 13 percent and walked away as league champions.

“Competing in Campus Conservation Nationals was a great learning experience. We feel very lucky to have been able to compete in such an amazing project,” said PowerSave Green Campus team manager Kayla Mahoney. “Our team learned valuable lessons regarding student behavior, outreach tools, and incentives. We built a foundation for the future competitions on our campus and we hope to win again next year.”

Shasta Hall residents celebrate their win in the Wildcat Sustainability Showdown. Students gather in the sustainability photo booth to take photos with the green competition trophy and reaffirm their sustainability commitments.

CSU Long Beach PowerSave Green Campus interns harnessed a bit of local rivalry in a Southland energy competition between four schools – CSU Long Beach, Cal Poly Pomona, CSU Fullerton and UC Irvine. All Mega Energy Competition campuses saw a reduction in residence hall energy usage: 11.13 percent for CSU Long Beach; 3.87 percent for CSU Fullerton; 7.42 percent for UC Irvine and 21.26 percent for Cal Poly Pomona.

Fighting the Hog

CSU Fullerton PowerSave Green Campus interns participated in the Energy Hog Program that makes learning about energy efficiency and conservation fun. Interns were trained to facilitate school assemblies, during which K-12 students learn how to defeat the Energy Hog with the help of Energy Hog Busters. CSU Fullerton interns facilitated five assemblies at four local K-12 schools, reaching a total of over 960 students during the fall semester.

Cal Poly Pomona PowerSave Campus interns visited several PowerSave schools in Arcadia in order to educate younger students about the importance of energy conservation. With the help of the infamous Energy Hog, interns got to interact with bright young kids who demonstrated their interest in being official energy savors.

Cal Poly Pomona PowerSave Green Campus interns Grace Jaen and Julia Hernandez teach K-12 students utilizing their campus’s unique setting of the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies

Flipping the Switch

The Humboldt State Green Workplace Assessment and Certification Program (GWACP) raises awareness of the faculty and staff community regarding energy efficiency and sustainable practices that can be implemented in their offices. It aims to motivate campus members to initiate new and innovative solutions to reduce their energy consumption. PowerSave Green Campus interns use an online point-based checklist to assess workplaces in seven categories and then award them with a level of certification based on how many points they generated in the checklist. The GWACP has certified 11 offices on campus since fall 2011, reaching 143 staff and faculty members on campus.

Jenna Bader (left), lead project coordinator for the GWACP, with a staff member Susan Buckley from a certified office at the end-of-semester ceremony receiving a customized “turn-it-off” sign.

Passing the Torch

As with any student group, the student leaders that help make these types of events possible is constantly graduating. While the university celebrates their success, it is with a tinge of melancholy. Emily Edris at CSU San Bernardino is such a leader, staying on longer than her commitment required to make sure the new team had a smooth transition. This follows a banner year for the program, including the campus’s first EcoFest.

CSUSB Green Campus veteran Emily Edris (second from the right) joins the newly formed PowerSave Green Campus team for a final photo before moving on to finish her graduate studies – thanks Emily!

According to the Alliance to Save Energy, 83% of PowerSave Green Campus graduates currently hold a “green job,” defined as work that contributes substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality. This underscores the lifetime impact of student engagement.

Many CSU students are looking for ways that they can make sustainability a key part of their future career. San Diego State PowerSave Green Campus answered this desire with a “speed networking” event in which SDSU students could practice essential networking skills while also learning about green careers.

Rapping it Up

Every villain needs a counterpart hero. At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo that hero goes by the name of Mr. Eco.

Mr. Eco (Brett Edwards) is an environmental superhero (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo PowerSave Green Campus project intern) who incorporates sustainable living tips through rap songs. I could try to explain this more, but it is probably best to leave things to Mr. Eco himself:

Note: PowerSave Green Campus Programs are supported by California’s investor owned utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and SoCal Gas.

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  • jBad

    Thanks for this article! Just wanted to mention that we save energy, not power. 🙂 And we do it well!

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