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Green campuses unite at UC Davis

Last week, I attended the Eighth Annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, which brought together universities in California that are leading the state in sustainable operations and academics. The University of California, Davis—located at the edge of a vast network of Central Valley food systems—hosted the conference. More than 45 percent of all produce bought for residence hall dining is from local farms within 250 miles of the campus.

The bulk of the program focused on issues that ranged from setting up green funds, to building a culture of sustainability, to advanced climate action planning. The conference also had a series of sustainability tours, both on the Davis campus and also branching out into the surrounding communities. The tour I attended went north of Davis to visit the production facilities of Lundberg Farms, a community supported agriculture farm in Chico called GRUB, and the numerous sustainability features at Sierra Nevada Brewery.

I presented on the topic of "Universities as Living Laboratories," focusing on PSU's efforts to integrate our academic sustainability efforts with our operational ones—providing added value to staff and building new learning experiences for students. The presentation was done in succession with a talk by Stanford University's sustainability director, who discussed advanced climate action implementation. Both presentations were focused on advanced strategies for reaching some of the ambitious goals laid out in the respective climate plans.

Photos from the Davis sustainability tour. Left: harvested onions from GRUB CSA. Right: Cascade hops growing
at Sierra Nevada Brewery.

Fletcher Beaudoin is the sustainability partnerships director at the PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions.