By Katelyn Jacobson
City on a Hill Press Reporter
If you don’t know where you’re going, any map will do.
On Feb. 26, the powerhouses of campus sustainability came out in force for the eighth annual Earth Summit, with a mission to figure out where UC Santa Cruz is headed and a road map for getting there. Every year the campus produces a climate action plan, a set of goals to achieve climate neutrality.
Aurora Winslade, UCSC sustainability coordinator, shared some of the ways that the university aims to reduce environmental impact.
“We set a goal of achieving 50 percent waste diversion by 2008, and we’re there — we’re at 50 percent,” Winslade said. “But we have another ambitious target, which is 70 percent division by 2012, and by 2020 we want to be at zero waste.”
UCSC has also reduced emission levels, and aims to further reduce to 1990 levels by 2020. Plans for a greener university have been moving toward the top of the priority list for years, with projects such as sustainable dining halls and the recent Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which verifies that a building is environmentally responsible.
The annual summit provides a venue for dozens of campus groups to advertise their projects to the student population. Patrick Cleeves, a student working with the Student Environmental Center, is working to get wind power available to the UC’s Lick Observatory, located east of San Jose on windy Mt. Hamilton.
“They’re really interested, but are worried that it would interfere with their pictures,” Cleeves said.
Although more expensive, the proposal of an increased wiring system solved the problem of interference and brought the observatory on board.
The current price tag for the UC wind power is $2.2 million for 400 kilowatts, a sum that is provided in part by student fees through the Student Sustainability Council.
The Earth Summit also made efforts to bring community members and students together.
Intern Reid Bogart is focusing on conserving rainwater and watersheds, hoping to create a toolbox of information for local homeowners and renters to modify their homes to decrease stormwater runoff.
“For the most part it would be non-potable,” Bogart said. “Rainwater passing through the atmosphere collects a lot of pollutants, but you could water your plants or your lawn, [or] wash your car.”
Last year was the driest year on record for Santa Cruz, and water shortages are a looming possibility. Watersheds are nature’s irrigation systems, but the existence of streams and other sources are becoming perilous.
“They provide water to habitats for a host of everything up the food chain from microorganisms to birds in the trees,” Bogart said. “It also supplies the human population with water supplies.”
For the first half of the Earth Summit, students and community members came together to brainstorm for the future and explain the present. One focus group went over the current state of transportation in Santa Cruz, suggesting future innovations such as campuswide gondolas or rapid personal transit pods.
“The Earth Summit brings everyone together, helping us envision,” Winslade said. “And then when we go back to these day jobs at our desks we’re fired and ready to carry out all these agendas.”
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