Not only did Lt. Gov. John Garamendi announce his candidacy in California’s 2010 governor’s race last week, he also visited Cal Poly during the Sustainability Conference on Friday.

The Democratic candidate for governor stood, with students behind him, in front of Cal Poly’s award-winning Solar Decathlon house, praising the university and others like it for their vision and design for a better future.

“The structure behind me is one example of the creativity that you find here at Cal Poly,” Garamendi said. “There are buildings that are on this campus that are already greening up, that are already improving the built environment’s consumption of greenhouse gas energy systems.”

He went on to say that Californians need to follow suit by focusing on sustainable practices and building. He spoke to a crowd of about 50 people Friday morning, challenging state colleges and universities to find solutions for reducing greenhouse gases and implementing sustainable building practices.

Cal Poly’s Solar Decathlon house was California’s only solar-powered house entered in the 2005 Solar Decathlon. More than 100 students and faculty members worked on the project for two years.

“Our state must be at the forefront of the design and creativity of green buildings,” Garamendi said. “We have to find ways to reduce our energy consumption. California leads, unfortunately, in the production of greenhouse gases, of all of the states. And America recently fell to second place, only because China has now exceeded us in the consumption of fuels that produce greenhouse gases.

“We must fall from first place in this state to last place,” he added. “The only way to do it is with the creativity that we find on our great campuses in the university systems. It can be done.”

Chad Worth, an industrial engineering senior who helped organize the UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference, said he’s proud that Cal Poly is the first CSU to host the conference.

“It’s really awesome to see,” he said of the conference. “So many students, long before it was popular, were working very hard to kind of wave their hands and get Cal Poly on the map when it comes to sustainability, and that was five, six, seven years ago. And the fruits of their labors have now paid off.”

ASI President Angela Kramer was just one of the many students who stood behind Garamendi as he spoke about sustainability.

“It’s all about holding campuses to higher standards,” she said. “Not only does something like this put Cal Poly at a higher standard, but it really showcases what Cal Poly has to offer.”

The students at Cal Poly played an integral part in elevating the conversation of green building and sustainability, Worth added.

“This is one of the largest conferences Cal Poly’s ever hosted, and what better topic for it to be on,” said Worth, who is also the former president of the Empower Poly Coalition, a coalition of green clubs and groups on campus dedicated to promoting prosperous and healthy environments.

“I am particularly proud to be here in front of these empowered students,” Garamendi said. “Fortunately, we’re here today in San Luis Obispo with a group of people that are already well ahead of the curve.”

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