The 13th Annual 2014 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC), hosted by the Associated Students of San Diego State University, provided the space to share information about the numerous innovative best practices discovered and policy achievements made in the past year. In May 2014, the California State University Board of Trustees approved a new version of the CSU Sustainability Policy for their 23 campuses. The policy has been expanded to include multiple new topic areas, including, but not limited to, water conservation, food service, and procurement, as well as the integration of sustainability into curriculum.
The conference also provided an opportunity for discussion of UC President Janet Napolitano’s presidential sustainability initiatives on food, climate, and water. With her leadership, the UC system committed to reduce per-capita potable water use by 20 percent by 2020, to become carbon neutral by 2025, and to build a world that can sustainably and nutritiously feed itself, also by 2025. One conference attendee reported that CHESC “helps us keep up with best practices and stay ahead of the curve. It inspires innovation, creativity and leadership.”
Practicing what we teach, this year’s conference was located at the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, which is on track to receive LEEDTM Platinum certification and was named the winner of the 2014 Best Practice Award in Overall Sustainable Design for the CSU System. Some of the building features include a 50% energy cost savings annually, three 50,000 gallon rainwater collection tanks for landscape irrigation, 450kW of solar PV and a strategic design to create a building that is primarily naturally ventilated and cooled (www.aztecstudentunion.com).
There were also many opportunities for networking with close to 750 attendees from 53 campuses and 222 speakers. The attendees represented the University of California, California State University, California Community Colleges, private and independent colleges, and even a few out of state campuses. As a result of this conference, the attending campuses have been able to forge and strengthen cross-system partnerships. As one of the attendees commented, “The sessions at CHESC are top notch, but the networking and idea sharing between sessions are even more valuable if that’s possible.”
If you missed any presentations that you wanted to see this year, you can see the PowerPoints at: http://chesc.org/program/presentations2014.php
We hope to leverage these partnerships between students, staff, administration, and faculty, and between campuses, to launch new efforts which will be highlighted at CHESC 2015. San Francisco State University will be hosting the conference, July 20th-24th, 2015. The two core conference days will be July 21st and 22nd. You can get the most updated information at: http://chesc.org/ or follow the conference on twitter: http://twitter.com/CHESC.