Berkeley celebrates sustainability at annual summit

Chancellor Christ, students and grounds staff converse about an initiative for making green spaces on campus chemical-free. (UC Berkeley photo by Sage Lenier)

Chancellor Christ, students and grounds staff converse about an initiative for making green spaces on campus chemical-free. (UC Berkeley photo by Sage Lenier)

UC Berkeley celebrated personal and campus wide sustainability accomplishments on Wednesday during its 15th Annual Sustainability Summit with Chancellor Carol Christ.

During the ceremony at Chou Hall in the Haas School of Business, the chancellor honored six individual or group awardees for their contributions to campus sustainability. Christ also highlighted UC Berkeley’s long history of environmental leadership as well as the interdisciplinary approach the campus community is taking now to address the world’s enormous energy and sustainability challenges.

“It is becoming clear as we undertake this process that one of the grand challenges on which Berkeley can provide strategic global leadership is in the area of environmental change, sustainability, and justice,” Christ said. “Because of the breadth and depth of expertise here, Berkeley has the unique opportunity to bring a truly interdisciplinary approach to solving global issues of climate change, water scarcity, biodiversity loss, food production, land use, and more.”

The summit opened with a poster session showcasing shared transport, sustainable food and other on-campus environmental initiatives. The summit’s keynote address was given by Vien Truong, CEO of nonprofit environmental group Dream Corps and leader of Green for All, a national effort to bring more diverse communities into the climate movement.

Chou Hall was an appropriate place for the summit, being not only the campus’ newest building but soon to become the nation’s first educational building to be zero waste-certified. The chancellor presented a sustainability award to the Chou Hall Zero Waste Initiative Team in recognition of its work helping the 80,000-square-foot building achieve that national distinction. That team was made up of student leads Jessica Heiges and Ryan Peterson and staff leads Lin King and Danner Doud-Martin. Vice Chancellor Marc Fisher highlighted UC Berkeley’s goal of diverting 90 percent of its campus waste away from landfills by 2020.

Among the other awardees were:

  • UC Berkeley Professor Kate O’Neill lived in the Unit 2 dormitories as a resident faculty this school year where she shared her expertise in international environmental politics and global waste trading.
  • Undergraduate Amanina Shofry was honored for her multi-front sustainability work including leading the Environmental Council student club and organizing Climate Justice Week events.
  • Sharon Daraphonhdeth has led the Student Environmental Resource Center where she has raised funds for student causes, launched a strategic visioning process and otherwise supported a wide range of on-campus sustainability activities.
  • The Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative Summit Team put together a two-day-long event in February that drew hundreds of people to the campus to learn about some of the most exciting developments in sustainable energy. The team was led by graduate student Zineb Bouzoubah and included students Jesús Guzmán, Michelle Levinson, Christian Miller and Cinthya Fernández Preda.
  • The Berkeley Climate Action Coalition has mobilized the larger East Bay community to find local solutions to such challenges as waste management, water and renewable energy. The team leaders are Amy Kiser and Minna Toloui of the Ecology Center and Rebecca Milliken and Marna Schwartz of the City of Berkeley.

The annual summit and awards are hosted by the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability.

This article was written by Jack Chang, a masters student with the energy and resources group on UC Berkeley’s campus.