Chico State garners recognition for sustainability practices

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Kevin Killion, the education outreach coordinator for the Campus Sustainability Committee, said that Chico State's many achievements in sustainability, as well as last December's decision to divest from fossil fuels, make it a leader in the movement. Orion file photo.

The main goal of the Campus Sustainability Committee is to encourage students to embrace sustainability as a way of living and to do what is needed to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Chico State’s sustainability report, along with its recent move to divest from fossil fuels, sets this campus apart as a leader in sustainability,” said Kevin Killion, sustainability outreach coordinator.

Chico State has received multiple awards for excellence in sustainability. The most recent award was the Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Award.

Food services at Chico State was also recognized for 2014 by the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference.

“I’ve noticed a lot of reusing of paper products and a lot of recycling and composting efforts within Associated Students,” said Christy Walowit, a nutrition and food science major. “I think that sourcing more locally grown and sustainable food choices would be the next step, and there’s currently a movement to increase these types of foods to 20 percent by 2020.”

Last year, Chico State was invited to be a founding member of the U.S. Alliance for Resilient Campuses, which places the campus in a high national standing in sustainability.

“I have noticed that the people rooting for sustainability have made it incredibly easy and accessible for students to participate in recycling, because recycling and compost bins can be found on every corner of our campus,” said Glenda Bonilla, a child development major. “Furthermore, the constant exposure to sustainability on this campus makes people more aware of its importance.”

The university has achieved several project certifications through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, the U.S. Green Building Council’s certification program for high-performance, sustainable buildings.

Chico has now completed five buildings that qualify for LEED certification, four of which have received the Gold rating and one received Silver.

The new arts and humanities building that is currently under construction is being built to LEED Silver specifications and is expected to be completed by fall 2016.

Campus efforts in sustainability have included advances in energy conservation, water conservation and diversion, transportation and encouraging people to use bikes.

“I think that the sustainability movement has done a great job on campus,” Bonilla said, “and in the future they may want to think of ways that people can transfer this enthusiasm for sustainability back to their homes.”

Elaine Knudsen can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.