Sustainability efforts shine at Earth Day summit

Staff efforts to “green” campus product procurement, an umbrella organization for myriad student environmental groups and a passionate fourth-year water advocate were honored at the campus’s 12th annual sustainability summit Wednesday.

A high point of the year for UC Berkeley sustainability advocates, the summit — sponsored by the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability — highlights outstanding contributions and ongoing projects. This year, sustainability awards went to the Student Environmental Resource Center, for its work to strengthen the collective effectiveness of the campus sustainability community; Supply Chain Management, for promoting greener purchasing options; and student Megan Maurino, for leadership around water conservation and education.

Students were on hand to explain dozens of projects-in-progress, which ran the gamut from low- to high-tech. The former included a small fleet of vinyl carts from Moving Services, for collecting office supplies for reuse when campus units are changing locations. (Continued below slideshow.)

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A system for growing micro-algae, extracting biomass and creating biofuel for campus uses was among the higher-tech efforts. Second-year energy engineer Matt Kozuch, who works with the new campus organization Engineers for a Sustainable World, was on hand to explain the process and how his dad, a sheet-metal worker, helped the team fabricate part of the system.

Another group of students – interested in the possible air-quality benefits of urban agriculture – recently installed two eight-foot towers at Oxford Tract, near campus, to take real-time measurements. “It would be neat to get a design that would be easy to implement in a lot of places,” including urban areas close to freeways, said project lead Brooke Gemmell, a second-year civil engineering major.