Inside USD

Sustainability Online

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The University of San Diego’s commitment to sustainability is strong and getting stronger and more effective each day. From students and faculty research project successes and major partnerships with San Diego Gas and Electric and others, to working relationships with on-campus organizations, the phrase “Be Blue, Go Green” is truly shaping how the USD community lives and acts.

That’s why USD’s Office of Sustainability has created a permanent home online. It’s launched a website — www.sandiego.edu/sustainability — to provide news and information about programs, events and usage facts that contribute to USD’s recognition as a regional, state and national leader.

The university, which became the eighth-largest solar energy facility on a U.S. college campus when solar panels were installed on multiple USD buildings through a partnership with AMSOLAR, has received numerous accolades for sustainability. The website highlights USD’s past, present and future successes, said Michael Catanzaro, USD’s director of sustainability and a double alumnus.

“It’s about being more transparent about our sustainability efforts, about utilities usage. We’re able to get our statistics and data out there, including a live dashboard that shows how much energy we’re producing,” he said.

Mostly, though, the website is a chance to educate students and, in turn, give them the tools and support to be community Changemakers locally, nationally and internationally.

“We want the website to be a place where students can learn how to live sustainably on campus,” Catanzaro said. “The website can also be a great place to focus on our students and their successes. We have students doing some really awesome stuff.”

Whether it’s engineering students doing a senior project to bring a power generation storage system to a village’s school in Sudan, doing local community projects as an undergraduate member of the Be Blue Go Green team or knowing about USD’s Electronics (E-Waste) Recycling Center near campus, the website will be a key connector.

Catanzaro said students and faculty will be able to apply for grant and scholarships tied to sustainability, visitors can learn about USD’s plans to become a national university leader in its diversion rate of trash and prospective students can learn about a “green” residence hall move-in campaign.

“We piloted the green move-in this year, using a very aggressive outreach to the RAs (residential assistants) and the orientation groups,” Catanzaro said. “We were pushing recycling and teaching our students on how to use the campus. We did a visual audit of all trash bins. We put up signage to remind students to turn off water because it’s a precious resource. It’s also our goal to make move-in and move-out days Zero Waste events.”

Education can even come during dinner for resident freshmen in the Sustainability LLC (Living Learning Community) at USD’s La Gran Terraza restaurant. Students last Friday night enjoyed a meal, but also learned that their food was grown and delivered by local farms and that USD’s Student Life Pavilion rooftop garden provided the herbs.

“It’s an academic and social experience,” said Tess Nunn, LLC coordinator, of the event. “The students eat together and learn about economic and environmental sustainability.”

Sustainability education is a constant. Whether it’s through the curriculum, attending field trips, driving a ZipCar, doing research projects or attending the Sept. 19 San Diego Mayoral Debate at Shiley Theatre where candidates are to speak about enhancing and improving the quality of life in San Diego, the need to Be Blue, Go Green is everywhere.

“I don’t think people quite understand where we’re at,” Catanzaro said in a May 2012 Inside USD article. “We’re not too far from being one of the most sustainable campuses in the country. We really do have an opportunity to get there quickly.”

To learn about USD’s sustainability efforts now, though, you’re only a click away.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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