Lauren Rabaino

The seventh annual UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference will be held at Cal Poly this weekend, the first time the conference will be hosted by a California State University. The conference includes representatives from all three public higher education systems in California: the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU) and California Community College (CCC) systems.

Cal Poly will welcome approximately 1,000 students, faculty and administrators interested in learning new techniques for improving sustainability on college campuses.

The conference will include speakers, workshops, a student sustainability convergence, and an exhibit. The focus is on preparing students for “green-collar” jobs and the application of new energy-efficient techniques.

Margot McDonald, the chief conference planner, said the conference is about learning the best practices for sustainability in terms of campus operations, administration, and curriculum, as well as applying sustainability techniques to unexpected areas of education such as the arts.

“We think of (sustainability) as technology; those are the easy ones to understand,” McDonald said. “What is less obvious are the social aspects of sustainability, and the cultural aspects. One of the goals is to illustrate that it touches every aspect.”

McDonald said the theme of the conference is “putting sustainability to work,” as it is important that students and faculty present a united front by learning necessary techniques to make their campuses more energy efficient.

“I’m hoping we can use the conference as a lever for the future,” McDonald said. “We have all the pieces, but we need to pull together. We need to elevate to a higher level of organization.”

The conference’s keynote speaker, National President of the Apollo Alliance Jerome Ringo, will speak on the importance of diversity in the environmental movement, and the pressing issues that can be aided by student involvement.

“I’m going to talk about the importance of building diverse coalitions around the environmental movement, but also the sense of urgency to resolve environmental issues like global warming, and to help this country declare energy independence from foreign oil,” Ringo said. “We should stimulate the American economy with green jobs, and all kinds of energy opportunities.”

Ringo said that each campus should do a real evaluation of its carbon footprint and get everyone involved in recycling programs, as well as promote students to consider careers in the conservation and environmental movement.

“There are many steps that can be taken that can take place within the dormitories, the classroom buildings and beyond, to reduce the electricity consumption and thus reduce the carbon discharge,” he said.

The conference will also display Cal Poly as a leader in the campus sustainability movement, said Chad Worth, former president of Empower Poly and an industrial engineering senior.

“The conference is going to bring attention to what has been done here on campus,” he said. “Everyone should get involved. This is the future.”

The conference takes place Thursday through Sunday and registration has already closed due to the large number of sign-ups.

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