UC Berkeley Takes Home 5 Higher Ed Sustainability Awards

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Campus community members accepting the awards (left to right): Danner Doud-Martin, Jes¬sica Heiges, Teresa Yu, Andrea Luna, Dante Gonzalez, Sage Lenier, Izzy Parnell-Wolfe, Lin King (not pictured: Michelle La, Mackenzie Phillips, Kira Stoll). Photo courtesy of UC Berkeley News.

In a nod toward the cam­pus’s commitment to achiev­ing carbon neutrality by 2025, UC Berkeley took home five best practice awards Tuesday, July 9, at the annual California Higher Education Sustainabil­ity Conference (CHESC) in Santa Barbara.

“Every initiative that was recognized with an award start­ed with an idea to do something new that would make a real en­vironmental improvement and expand understanding,” says Kira Stoll, director of sustain­ability at UC Berkeley. “These best practice programs all re­quired engagement of many people and time and were most­ly done with just seed funding. I think each of these initiatives will continue to grow.”

Also, Berkeley’s program, The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), was a finalist for the Green Gown Student Engage­ment Award, hosted by a part­nership with the United Na­tions.

Here’s a brief overview of the work that won CHESC awards:

  • A curriculum with solu­tions for a sustainable future

In an effort to educate people about how to address climate change, student Sage Lenier, a fourth-year conservation and resource studies major, won an award for a curriculum she wrote, “Zero Waste: Solu­tions for a Sustainable Future,” about the science of modern landfills, the history of “trash” and how we can all reduce personal waste, among other topics. The curriculum, which Lenier has taught for the past three semesters in a student-led DeCal course, is a resource that she says gives everyone a practical guide on how we can apply existing strategies to re­duce waste. “Trash is a human invention,” she says. “There are solutions. We just have to implement them.” Lenier’s long-term goal is to have her course be a regular part of the curriculum at all University of California campuses.

  • Students of color environ­mental conference

The Students of Color En­vironmental Collective hosted a free, all-day environmental justice conference in February to create and support a move­ment to amplify the voices of underrepresented people. “The environmental movement can often be an alienating space that fails to prioritize and (re)center dialogue and action around communities of color and other marginalized groups most im­pacted by environmental deg­radation,” wrote the collective on the group’s Facebook page.

  • Campaign to create an her­bicide-free UC

To inspire the University of California system to rethink its reliance on toxic herbi­cides in grounds management, Berkeley alumna Mackenzie Feldman launched the cam­paign Herbicide-Free UC, now called Herbicide-Free Campus. The campaign is already at UC Riverside, UC Davis, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara, and has led to UC President Janet Na­politano temporarily banning glyphosate on all 10 campuses. The group is now working with Napolitano to make the ban permanent and to transition away from using all toxic her­bicides. Herbicide-Free Cam­pus has expanded nationally, with the mission of eliminat­ing toxic herbicides from every school nationwide.

  • Chou Hall: the country’s greenest academic building

Connie and Kevin Chou Hall, home to Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, is the first academic building in the na­tion to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s TRUE Zero Waste Platinum Certification. “We’re breaking new ground with Chou Hall,” said Walter Hallanan, a Berkeley alumnus who managed the Chou Hall project, in a Haas Newsroom story. “The certification pro­cess included community and campus engagement and com­munication, operational coor­dination, metrics and report­ing, and leadership support. It serves as our campus’ beacon for zero waste buildings mov­ing forward.”

  • “Coolest UC” in the Cool Campus Challenge

In the 2019 Cool Campus Challenge, Berkeley came in first as the “Coolest UC,” reporting the most carbon-saving points of any of the UC campuses and medical center. With more than 4,200 par­ticipants — nearly 8% of the campus — Berkeley saved a combined 2,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the same decrease in CO2 as tak­ing 500 cars off the road for a whole year.

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