A Publication for the faculty, staff, administrators and friends of California State University, Chico
November 11, 2004 Volume 35/Number 3

 

 

As we mentioned in our last column, CSU, Chico has initiated a Campus Sustainability Assessment. This process can be quite enlightening, but also a bit intimidating at the outset. It is always hard to stand in front of the mirror; the reflection does not always return what we would like see.

What does it mean to be working toward a sustainable campus? Sustainability can be defined simply as meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Campus sustainability covers not only the resources and energy that go into our daily operations, but also our institution’s impacts on the community and the region that we serve.

CSU, Chico is not alone in these efforts. We (Mark and Jim) have just returned from the North American Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education. This conference showcased some of the extraordinary efforts taking place in colleges and universities from Mexico to Canada to build healthy, just, and ecologically sound communities. We are extremely proud to report that CSU, Chico is seen as having assumed a leadership role in campus sustainability efforts within the western United States.

For example, the Environmental Protection Agency announced their P3 (People, Prosperity, and the Planet) awards at the conference, and CSU Chico student teams in Laurie Wermuth’s Environmental Sociology class received one of these awards. The students are collaborating with community members on projects to increase the application of alternative energy: working to install solar panels at Pleasant Valley High School, researching solar water heaters for Bidwell Apartments, and documenting the energy efficiency of homes in the Doe Mill Neighborhood. There were only 66 awards given nationwide in a very competitive proposal round. Congratulations to Professor Wermuth and her student team. In May, four students from the class will travel to Washington, D.C. to display their findings at an EPA science conference.

At the conference we also learned that CSU, Chico is distinguished by being among only two dozen campuses in the western United States constructing LEED-certified buildings, and among a handful of campuses nationwide that are performing a sustainability assessment.

While we are making great strides, we need to keep moving. Anthony Cortese, president of Second Nature, delivered a compelling keynote address in which he asked, “Is higher education moving fast enough to meet the world’s urgent needs?” His answer was a resounding “no!” Cortese believes that we need to refocus and revitalize our efforts on vision making, and that we need to incorporate values and ethics in all learning. Univer-sities, he points out, have traditionally been arenas for bold science and social experimentation.

We agree and are accepting his challenge to lead by example. Our next step after the assessment is to form an environmental advisory council charged with developing a strategic plan for campus sustainability. Please let us know if you are interested in being involved. The more eyes we have looking in the mirror the more sustainable we will become
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Finally, we want to remind you that Lester Brown will speak in Laxson Auditorium on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 pm. We are hosting a forum at 4 pm for faculty and staff in Trinity 100. Please send us questions in advance, which we will give to Brown when he arrives so we can engage in a deeper conversation than a typical lecture or Q & A.

Sustainably yours.

— Mark Stemen, Coordinator of Environmental Studies, and Jim Pushnik, Rawlins Chair of Environmental Literacy

 

 

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