UC Berkeley wins 3 awards at CA Higher Education Sustainability Conference

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UC Berkeley’s Maximino Martinez Commons, Fight the Flow and the LeanPath waste reduction system each won a 2013 Best Practice award at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference this week.

At the conference, UC Berkeley was recognized for its exemplary work in developing sustainable practices. The conference aims to bring together all the higher education systems in California so that they can share sustainable ideas and encourage other campuses to implement similar programs.

“Best of Practice awards are opportunities for us to recognize and bring light to the projects that are the most innovative,” said Katie Maynard, event manager for the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference.

The Best of Practice winners are chosen by a panel including members of the UC Office of the President, the CSU Chancellor’s Office, utilities partners and sustainability-focused nonprofit organizations. Factors considered when choosing winners include cost and energy savings, design and user satisfaction.

 UC Berkeley won the Overall Sustainable Design award for the second year in a row with its housing complex Maximino Martinez Commons. Some of the space’s most sustainable innovations include drought-resistant plants and a solar hot-water system.

“In terms of the awards, it’s one of the top ones that they hand out,” said UC Berkeley Director of Sustainability Lisa McNeilly. “Almost half of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects have been in campus housing. This is just another example of Cal Housing being a leader in this area.”

Staff members from UC Berkeley PowerSave, a program that implements energy-efficient projects, were also recognized for their work on the Fight the Flow campaign with the Student Energy Efficiency award. The campaign led to reduced water usage in the residence hall showers by installing valves that allow students to decrease water pressure.

The conference also presented Cal Dining with the Sustainable Foods Service award.

“The award was given to Cal Dining and represents the success of our team as a whole — cooks, chefs, our student workers as well as administrative support,” said Director of Residential Dining and Catering Operations Chuck Davies. “I think the entire team felt proud that we had accomplished something which helps save money and reduces waste.”

By using a LeanPath system to quantify waste in the kitchen, Cal Dining has been able to reduce food waste by 19 percent, according to Davies. Cal Dining’s adoption of the LeanPath system includes scales that collect information on food waste that can be analyzed by staff members at weekly meetings. Maynard said that she thought this approach to reducing waste was unique.

“Many schools just look at ways to compost,” Maynard said. “UC Berkeley is going further than that and really looking at ways to reduce waste through measurement and tracking.”

Contact Elise Aliotti at [email protected]