By Hannah Buoye
While some may consider UC Santa Cruz a “green” campus, it lacks a campus-wide sustainability assessment.
Ilse Kolbus, director of the Physical Plant and chair of the Campus Sustainability Subcommittee, along with Aurora Winslade and several student interns, have been compiling a comprehensive Campus Sustainability Assessment document in hopes of coordinating and promoting campus activities.
“The point is to gather information about all activities occurring on campus because there are many programs that involve students and different units on campus,” Kolbus said in reference to existing sustainability movements on campus.
Scheduled to come out this fall, the project’s goals are to provide an informational document and an accessible, interactive website.
The website will highlight sustainable activities and programs that are occurring on campus, and will create awareness and an interest in sustainability.
“The point of the assessment is to find where there are gaps and where to focus efforts,” Kolbus continued. “[We] want to bring all the information together and have a tool for people to use, to know where to put resources and efforts.”
Hoping that groups such as action research teams and interested campus facilities will use this document, project manager Aurora Winslade explains that it is more than an environmental assessment.
“We’re taking a snapshot of the campus to set up a baseline from which to measure the campus over time,” Winslade said.
Jessica Beckham, a student intern who is focusing on the curricular and co-curricular aspects of the project, explained that she is compiling a list of classes that relate to sustainability and identifying groups, events, and other learning opportunities outside of the classroom.
Beckham sees the assessment as an opportunity to make the adoption of sustainable practices more meaningful and efficient.
“I see the main goal of the assessment as taking the time and energy to see where we are now, how are we doing, and doing it in a way that can be replicated by future students and staff in another year, or five, 10, or 25,” Beckham said.
Kolbus explained that her interest in sustainability had stemmed from her academic studies, her position as the director of the Physical Plant and her concerns as a mother for the future state of the environment. It is her personal belief that it is important to “conserve resources to the extent that is feasible â€¦ and organizations should be looking to the future and doing things in the most conscientious way they can.”
She explained that the Physical Plant helps to promote sustainability with its campus recycling and site stewardship programs, and its attempt to convert its vehicles to more sustainable models and fuel sources.
Still, she underlines the fact that there is always more to improve upon.
“Student groups on campus, and concerned faculty, can use this as an amazing wealth of information to get initiatives, ballot measures, and new groups, started on campus,” Beckham said.
Highlighting the other campuses that have created sustainability assessments, Winslade stresses the importance of making this information accessible to students and facilities alike.
By creating this assessment, the project coordinators hope that the cumulative efforts of campus can be coordinated and prioritized in the areas of sustainability.
“I hope that the final assessment document will get sustainability on the front page,” Beckham said. “I personally think that it’s an incredibly important issue that people may not completely understand, and this document can give students, faculty, and staff the tools to say ‘hey, this is really important, and here’s what we can do.’”