Birgeneau talks sustainability at campus summit

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Chancellor Robert Birgeneau reflected on campus sustainability efforts at the 9th Annual Sustainability Summit Thursday afternoon.

The event — which began at began at 3 p.m. in Sutardja Dai Hall with a presentation of sustainability-themed posters — was organized by the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability and aimed to celebrate conservation efforts on campus.

“(The summit’s goal is) to let the campus community know what’s going on, to inspire others to do this work and to acknowledge the work that’s been done,” said Kaela Colwell, a UC Berkeley senior and co-chair of the committee.

After the poster presentation, Birgeneau presented a speech on sustainability progress and the campus’ future goals. He addressed progress made in energy, water and waste conservation efforts.

“We’ve already seen a 7 percent water reduction rate since 2008,” Birgeneau said. “The campus is (now) working on a strategy to reach zero percent waste by 2020. Everything will be reduced, reused or recycled.”

The campus is currently installing new recycling and composting bins and a plan outlining how to reach the zero percent goal will be announced later this year, according to Birgeneau.

After his speech, Birgeneau presented this year’s Green Fund Grants and Sustainability Awards, which recognize green initiatives on campus.

Junior Monica Harnoto won one of the Green Fund grants for initiating a pilot program to put reusable containers into one of the campus dining halls. The program will go into effect next fall.

“It’s nice to know that as a campus, we support sustainability,” Harnoto said. “It’s such an honor.”

After the awards were presented, Joan Walker, an assistant professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering, moderated a panel discussion with three campus alumni who answered questions from the audience regarding their sustainability work in private, nonprofit and public sectors.

“I always love giving back to the Cal community because I got so much from it,” said Laura Moreno, a UC Berkeley alumna who spoke at the panel in an interview.  “Students are here to learn about new environmental options.”

The event concluded at around 6 p.m. with a question-and-answer session with the panelists.

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  • Bob TheHabitual Liar

    “The campus is (now) working on a strategy to reach zero percent waste by 2020. Everything will be reduced, reused or recycled.”

    Including all chemical and biological waste from all research and teaching related activities?
    You can incinerate some of it to recover those BTUs, but this pollutes as does the burning of any fuel.
    Some it cannot be diverted to other uses, plain and simple, don’t let Birgeneau tell you otherwise w/o.

    • Stan De San Diego

       This is the problem when you have a bureaucracy populated by spineless wimps. Anyone with any backbone should have leveled with the eco-bedwetters and told them that “zero emissions” anything is a Utopian pipe dream, and that research, just like industry, involves some level of emissions and waste products. Of course such material should be stored/handled properly, and minimized where possible, but this catering to shrieking militants and the goo-goo bunny-huggers who have been indoctrinated with such nonsense only gives them the false sense that they have valid arguments.

  • What about ECONOMIC sustainability, such as only spending what you can afford, and concentrating on admitting those students who are the most likely to graduate with a useful major, get jobs, pay taxes, and keep the UC system solvent, instead of pushing for such Utopian nonsense as “diversity”?

    • Calipenguin

       I agree.  I thought Birgeneau was going to discuss how to maintain Cal’s excellent academic programs and instead he talks about recycling waste water.