By Rosie Spinks
Campus News Reporter
As campuses nationwide seek to improve the sustainability of their institutions, UC Santa Cruz made a significant step this week with the release of the 2007 Campus Sustainability Assessment. This document highlights the progress the campus has made as well as the challenges it may face on the path to sustainability.
Implemented by the Campus Sustainability Subcommittee, the 96-page document is the result of more than a year of research and data collection by the Sustainability Office, which was created in 2007 as a two-year pilot program.
Aurora Winslade, a UCSC alumna who is now serving as the campus sustainability coordinator and project manager, was a main facilitator of the assessment.
“The goal was to gather, in one location, what we’ve done and what we’re doing to improve campus sustainability,” Winslade said, “and also to set a baseline measurement for how we can improve.”
As a draft form of the assessment states, “UC Santa Cruz has a long history of environmental stewardship, and this assessment…represents an important step in realizing the vision of becoming a truly sustainable institution.”
Ilse Kolbus, chair of the Campus Sustainability Subcommittee and project director of the assessment, points out the progressive nature of the campus’s efforts.
“I don’t think there are many campuses that do similar processes and operations in the area of sustainability as we do,” she said.
The assessment found areas of strength as well as areas that need improvement. With nearly 25 percent of the dining hall’s produce being organic, the food system at UCSC has made great strides thanks to student-led efforts, as Winslade points out.
“In food systems, we are one of the national leaders,” she said. “Our dining system is incredibly progressive.”
However, the assessment found need for improvement in the campus’s purchasing efforts, which is everything the campus buys. “Systems to promote, ensure, or facilitate sustainable purchasing are needed,” a draft version of the document states.
To help UCSC reach its sustainability goal, Winslade suggests that students use the assessment to highlight opportunities for improvement.
“The starting point for a student who is interested in sustainability is to inform themselves,” Winslade said. “They should then use the opportunities and recommendations [of the assessment] to target their efforts.”
Jeff McClenahan, a first-year who serves as co-chair of the Student Environmental Center (SEC), believes that small steps such as recycling and cutting down on food waste are important.
“You don’t have to be working on some monstrous campaign with tons of money to help us be more sustainable,” McClenahan said.
Winslade pointed out that the SEC and involved students such as McClenahan make all the difference.
“Students have more of an opportunity on this campus to instigate change than anyone else,” she said. “When students speak, the administration does listen.”
Now that the assessment is complete, the next step is implementing the findings into policy and action.
Kolbus looks ahead to a more sustainable future. She said, “Now the challenge is: how do we make the next leap in the performance of those operations?”
_For more information and to view the assessment, go to http://sustainability.ucsc.edu._