CSU, Chico sustainability coordinator Jillian Buckholz describes herself as a connector. “[Students] call me the power strip—they plug into me, and then I plug into everything else, creating real-world experiences for students in the area of sustainability on campus.”
The comparison is particularly apt considering the work Buckholz has done in the area of energy conservation on campus. As a graduate student in geography a few years ago, she wrote her thesis comparing the energy use on 19 of the 23 CSU campuses. She most recently worked as a go-between with Facilities Management and Services (FMS) staff and the student group Green Campus on a project to reduce energy used by campus computers, earning the Green Campus Program money for future energy-saving projects.
Green Campus installed EZGPO power management software on selected computers, then turned to Buckholz for help coordinating with CSU, Chico’s Facilities Management and Services office to file for money from the University of California, California State University, and Investor-Owned Utility Partnership for energy efficiency through the California State University Office of the Chancellor. This project not only saved energy, says Buckholz, but Green Campus also received about $49,000 from PG&E through the partnership for this savings. The power management software and other on-campus projects earned CSU, Chico Green campus the Best Practices award for Student Efficiency in the California State University Office of the Chancellor’s, Energy Efficiency Partnership Program.
Buckholz also coordinates events such as the annual This Way to Sustainability conference, which in 2007, its third year, brought more than 1,100 participants to campus. She researches other campuses’ efforts in sustainable development, learning how to incorporate those concepts at CSU, Chico. All her work is done through the Institute for Sustainable Development, a University program dedicated to helping CSU, Chico become a national leader in sustainability.
Buckholz is excited by the progress the campus has made toward this goal. She points to some of the biggest steps the University has made: President Paul Zingg’s December 2006 signing of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment to become climate neutral, the new solar panels installed on Yolo Hall and Acker Gym, and the LEED-certified buildings being constructed on campus.
The University’s recently added sixth strategic priority to become an “environmentally engaged university” is also an important step, says Buckholz: “These things were happening, but they didn’t have as much weight until the University institutionalized them. Sustainability is a mission of the University now—and this really causes people to pay attention.”