A Closer Look: Committee aims to facilitate efforts, educate
Goals include creating building standards, promoting dialogue, informing students
Current efforts to increase sustainability on campus have recently been given a figurehead.
Former Chancellor Albert Carnesales commission of the Campus Sustainability Committee in April 2006 created a single entity to facilitate coordination of sustainability efforts.
Educating students, implementing green building standards, and creating a dialogue on campus between students and the administration are goals of the committee, which does not yet have a permanent director.
UCLA was recently evaluated by the Sustainable Endowments Institute and received a C+ overall grade on its College Sustainability Report Card.
Tova Lelah, co-chair of the sustainability committee, said she believes most of the report card was spot on, especially construction and climate change, in which the university received top marks.
The committee is currently attempting to discover whether students and faculty believe the overall issue of sustainability is being addressed adequately and what students want to see more of, said Mary Nichols, co-chair of the sustainability committee.
Were in a massive information gathering stage at the moment, she said.
Nichols, who is also the director of the Institute of the Environment, said education has the potential to have a powerful impact.
One of the effects could be that students at UCLA will have a greater awareness of their role as citizens and consumers in helping to sustain the planet, Nichols said.
This term, Nichols and UCLA Anderson School of Management business Professor Charles Corbett are leading a supplemental program for graduate students titled Leaders in Sustainability, with students from the business, law and public affairs schools, among others.
The program, along with a one-unit student-led undergraduate course, are initial ventures to explore what students are interested in, Nichols said.
More tangible projects currently under the advisement of the committee include construction and renovation of existing buildings.
UCLAs first building to be certified under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards is La Kretz Hall, which opened in June 2005.
Aspects of a building examined for certification include heating and cooling, natural lighting, energy consumption, air quality and materials used, Lelah said.
An 180,000 square-foot lab for life sciences designed to achieve LEED certification is scheduled to be built near Hershey Hall with a completion date of 2009.
Lelah said it is difficult to bring older buildings up to green standards.
However, a current renovation is in the works to bring Rieber Hall up to LEED standards, which among other things will involve replacing the windows with double-paned windows to help with heat loss and gain, Lelah said.
The issue of bringing all our buildings to LEED building status ... is something that would take decades, Lelah said.
The campus as an institution is not alone in its efforts to implement environmental friendly standards.
Jeffrey Dhungana, a fourth-year anthropology student, said several new food programs on campus are an outgrowth of older efforts by student organizations such as E3, short for ecology, economy and equity.
Were kind of in a unique situation here at UCLA with respect to other universities, Dhungana said, noting what he believes is the willingness of the UCLA administration to listen to students.
Associated Students UCLA has also made efforts to increase its sustainable practices.
ASUCLA has an independent sustainability committee made up of managers and board members, said Nurit Katz, a member of the committee and a graduate student in public policy.
Katz, who is the director of the Sustainable Resource Center, said recent efforts on the part of ASUCLA have included opening the Greenhouse, a healthy restaurant featuring biodegradable food containers and utensils dubbed Spudware.
Also in the works by ASUCLA is a pilot greening project in LuValle Commons, in consultation with a non-profit called Sustainable Works, Katz said.
Efforts will focus on how to green LuValle in the categories of chemical use, waste and energy use, she said.
Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2007