Episode 21: Institutionalizing Sustainability for Real Change - Live at CHESC 2019 - Transcript
Dave Karlsgodt 0:00
Welcome to the campus energy and sustainability podcast. And each episode, we talked with leading campus professionals, thought leaders, engineers and innovators addressing the unique challenges and opportunities facing higher ed and corporate campuses. Our discussions will range from energy conservation to efficiency, to planning and finance, from building science to social science, from energy systems to food systems. We hope you're ready to learn, share and ultimately accelerate your institution towards solutions. I'm your host, Dave Karlsgodt, I'm a principal at Fovea, an energy, carbon and business planning firm.
Mackenzie Crigger 0:34
You know, if I just sent my CFO numbers all the time, he would not care. But when I show up in his office, and I tell him some funny story, then we can segueway that into a sustainability conversation and he will give me money.
Joseph Fullerton 0:45
You know, we really try to think very creatively using salsa as our analogy for how to engage our students. And so we have the mild, medium and spicy groups of students.
Nurit Katz 0:56
You know I hear tales, scary tales from some universities where it's very much a students versus administration. And really, our sustainability policy originated out of student and administration collaboration.
Jillian Buckholz 1:11
What was really tricky was working with people and saying, Okay, now we have to do these things.
Dave Karlsgodt 1:18
And this episode, you'll hear a live recording of a panel discussion at the California higher education sustainability conference, which took place earlier this summer at the University of California Santa Barbara. Regular listeners may remember Episode 13, focused on aggressive climate action, which we recorded at this conference in 2018. This year, we focused on the idea of institutionalizing sustainability. More specifically, we tried to deconstruct some of the strategies, traits and tricks of our panelists who are all rock star sustainability professionals in their own right. You'll hear some great stories, plenty of roadblocks, some ingenious tactics, and some powerful analogies each of our panelists have used to catalyze change. The moment you'll hear our moderator, Ann McCormick of Willdan, an energy and engineering solutions firm, introduce our four panelists. And without further ado, I hope you enjoyed this conversation recorded July 10 2019 as much as I did.
Ann McCormick 2:13
Welcome everybody. It's 2:10 we're gonna go ahead and get started with our session. And our session today is about decision making, how campuses make decisions for sustainability. It's been a real treat to work with each of the districts represented here today over many years, and to see all the progress that's been made. And I really appreciate the content of this session today, because it's really is about getting results and getting things done. And we have definitely some of the best here. We have each of the four systems represented. Jillian Buckholz, from Cal State East Bay, Joe Fullerton from San Mateo Community College District, Mackenzie Crigger from Chapman University private colleges represented. And we also have Nurit Katz from UCLA. But I'm going to go ahead and turn it over to our podcast host. And again, thank you, everyone for being here.
Dave Karlsgodt 3:09
Thanks again, my name is Dave Karlsgodt, as you mentioned, I'm with a company called Fovea, and we are a strategic planning firm that has the pleasure of working with the UC campuses on their carbon neutrality initiative and have had the chance to work with many campuses in California and around the country. Today I'm going to be wearing the different hat though I'm going to be the podcast host. So my role is going to be to kind of moderate our conversation here. I'll warm up first for you. And then I'm going to turn it over to you to ask some more difficult questions as we get along. There a couple of ground rules here. So first and foremost, we're going to try to ask them questions that will make them squirm. But but not get them fired. That's kind of a few of them. Yeah, you know, you know the line. And when I turn the questions over to you, you have to actually ask a question. So we're not talking about transportation in LA today, we're we're going to be trying to pull out the great knowledge they have about how decisions are made it these are a group of really creative people who have to navigate the bureaucracies that they work within. And somehow, given limited resources and barriers at every turn, they somehow figure out a way to get things done, despite all that. So I'm really here to learn with you. I work with campuses, but these are the experts that I'm trying to learn from. So this is going to be me learning, you can help me learn and will and we'll see where we go from there. What I'm going to need you guys to do is practice a little bit because you've never been a live audience, at least this specific group of people. So I've got a couple of things. So at some point, Joe might tell a joke, for example.
Joseph Fullerton 4:35
Yeah, like, why do pirates love recycling? Because they love the four R's.
Dave Karlsgodt 4:44
All right. All right. Good. Okay. All right. So Nurit, at some point, she might just surprise us all and come out with some brand new strategy that UCLA is going to go and we're going to call this the gaps and you are going to go Yeah, very good. Okay, that's good. That so Mackenzie, she's going to kind of stir up some controversy. And I'm going to call this one maybe the British Parliament gone awry. One, she's going to start talking about her new strategy to use use plastic straws to hook up to her rain garden system, and you guys are going to go nuts, and you're gonna go...all right. Alright, hey, we're gonna work on that going crazy part a little bit. And Jillian, at some point, is just going to get a groove on and just be passionately talking about how she connects sustainability to social justice, and you're gonna go all right. Okay, so I think you're ready. This is good. First round. And maybe just we'll start with you, Joe, can you just tell us who you are, where you're from a little bit about your campus. The next question will be about a key project you're working on. So if you want to give us like a laundry list, that's great.
Joe Fullerton 5:50
So I'm Joe Fullerton, and I'm the energy and sustainability manager at San Mateo County Community College District. We like to say that really fast to confuse people. My job consists mainly I work in the facilities Maintenance and Operations Division. Right now we're engaged in $500 million worth of new construction major modernization, so I'm responsible for all the fun LEED and sustainability, environmental health and safety and general project facilitation work within that, that scheme, and our meetings and operations work and the hundred and so folks that work in that division, custodians, engineers and our groundskeepers. So I have domain over water waste energy, curriculum, integration, climate action, all the normal stuff that a sustainability professional does. And I do that for three campuses with unique in challenging environments in themselves and try to feed those all into one cohesive strategy all together within a larger system of 114 schools across the community college system and trying to set a path and create rep school programs. So they can take and learn what we've done, do it better and give it back to us. And we can then continue to propel and accelerate the sustainability revolution that we know is necessary. So that's all I do.
Dave Karlsgodt 7:09
All right, before we go on, I also will note that Joe was here at our podcast recording last year and asked the first and last question and talked himself onto the panel because he mentioned we were missing community colleges. So we're glad to have you here, Joe.
Joseph Fullerton 7:20
Yeah, I basically kicked the door down. Yeah.
Nurit Katz 7:24
Well, hi, everyone. I'm Nurit Katz. I'm the chief Sustainability Officer for UCLA. And I've been in sustainability there for about a decade with similar to what Joe was sharing all of the different topics that we work on from energy, water, waste, procurement, transportation, all of it. I also more recently in the last couple years have taken on a more direct role within facilities management. So I also serve as the executive officer for facilities, which includes running our power plant custodian grounds and kind of everything physical about the campus. My role in sustainability as a dual report to have a dotted line to the academic side. And a big part of my role, just like many of us, is sort of facilitating the university as a living laboratory looking for applied research opportunities, ways in which we can test innovative technology and ideas in our physical operations and kind of further both the academic mission and our operational goals at the same time.
Mackenzie Crigger 8:16
I'm Mackenzie Crigger. I'm at Chapman University, and I'm the energy and sustainability manager there, not anything too different. We're all working on the same big sustainability goals, same topic areas. The one thing that I do do that's a little different that has provided me some good entry roads to, to the academic side is I teach in the College of environmental science and policy. And so that's been a really great and interesting experience, because it's really allowed us to get students more involved in what's happening from a facilities and sustainability perspective. Then, what they were able to do before that sort of just was a lucky, happy accident as I like to think of it, Bob Ross and I, we're on the same wavelength. Come on, guys. That was a joke. But again, you know, we all we're looking at wastewater, transportation, curriculum, procurement, basically anything that touches sustainability, I have my finger in at some point and as an office of one that gets overwhelming. So I'm really grateful for opportunities like this to come together and really see what's working for other people.
Jillian Buckholz 9:23
Hi, I'm Jillian Buckholz, Director of sustainability at Cal State East Bay, located in Hayward, California, about halfway between Oakland and San Jose, also an office of one. What makes me a little bit different from everybody else here is that I'm located in academic affairs, and I report directly to the provost. And my role is sort of twofold. About half of my time is spent facilitating and leading a student internship program I hire between 12 and 18 students a year to do on campus sustainability projects. And I was given that funding when I came into this position about five years ago. And then the other half of the work that I do is facilitating our campus sustainability committee, just co chaired by our provost and VP of finance, and admin. And essentially through that committee, I'm able to do things like climate action planning and greenhouse gas inventories. And STARS, we just got the email yesterday that we got a STARS rating we're bronze. Yeah, I'm very excited about that. Yeah, right. Clapping. Audience participation. So those are really the two areas that I work on. I don't have an official dotted line to facilities, but I do work with facilities. A lot on integrating sustainability into campus operations as well sort of serve as the environmental consultant for the campus is I tell the non-sustainability friends that I have.
Dave Karlsgodt 10:42
All right, very good. We're going to go We'll go backwards just to mix it up a little bit. This round, I'd like you to talk about a project that you've worked on where you were able to get decision makers to change their minds. I don't want to hear about a little pilot project, I want to hear about something that you've taken maybe from pilot all the way into there's a full budget line item, the CFO knows about it, and is as on board with it.
Jillian Buckholz 11:03
That's a good question. Our president signed second nature's carbon commitment in January 2015. And that was really great for me, because it allowed me to establish the campus sustainability committee with the stakeholders on campus who were organized and were able to get this position on campus, the director of stability position. And through that, too, we put together a Climate Action Plan. And as a first time this has ever been done at Cal State East Bay. And for those of you that have done climate action plans, it's not a very easy thing to do. But fortunately, I work a lot with faculty being an academic affairs, and have a really great faculty champion, Dr. Karina Garbesi in environmental studies, who worked with me in a senior seminar class to get the Climate Action Plan started. And then from there, we were able to snowball sort of that momentum, and hire a climate core fellow to help us write the Climate Action Plan, while we are working with stakeholders on the campus sustainability committee to get you know, different data points, right the plan. So once we wrote the plan, we had to get approval for it. And we had to vet it through faculty chemistry and ability Committee, which has to VP Sonic at presidential approval, sort of go through the entire chain of everyone that would have to be working on the different directives in the plan. And getting the approval was a lot easier than what we thought it would be. I'm not sure anyone read it. I hope they did. But what was really tricky was once it was approved people working with people and saying, Okay, now we have to do these things. And people were scared, and they thought it was additional work to what they do. And we had a really great moment with the procurement team. We sat down with them. And they said, We don't know anything about sustainability. What What do we do, we don't have funds for this, we don't have expertise. And just by meeting with those folks, one on one, they started to understand, oh, it's easy to go from paper processes to digital processes. It's easy to buy 100% recycled content paper. And then they started coming to us and saying, Can we put sustainability in our campus credit card policy? And I said, Yes. Can we stop allowing toner to be purchased on the campus credit card? And they're like, yeah, sure, we'll put that in our policy. So having the Climate Action Plan establishes sort of a long story from the President signed the commitments game, the Climate Action Plan, to working with procurement on the initiatives within it, but building the relationships, being able to establish those through that process has started to really change our procurement department, and it's been a big win for us.
Mackenzie Crigger 13:35
That's awesome. When I think about the things that we've been able to do on our campus that have really changed perspective, the first thing that comes to mind is when we transitioned our landscaping to native and California friendly and drought tolerant, if any of you have been to Chapman's campus, it is green and lush and beautiful. And things have to bloom all the time, even if it's not the right time for them to bloom. And so when I first got to the campus, I was like, we live in Southern California, it is a desert, like, do you people not know this? They're like, Oh, yeah, but everything grows here. And I'm like, well, just because everything grows here doesn't mean it should. But so through the environmental science and policy capstone course, that we were able to go through, we mapped the whole campus, we looked at what percentage of our campus was drought tolerant, California friendly native, and then proceeded to survey our campus, we managed to survey about 1500 people, our campus at that point only had about 6000 undergraduate students and about thousand graduate students about 600, faculty and staff. So that's a pretty big chunk of your campus, if you're able to get that but but having so much data to say, Hey, this is what people like, because we actually gave people pictures of potential California friendly plants that we could swap out within our landscaping, and going being able to go to our Vice President of facilities and campus planning and say, Look, the staff like this, the students like this, it will not be this ugly brown thing that you have in your mind, because that's what we're fighting against. There's this perception that for something to be drought tolerant, or California friendly, that had to be brown, it had to be ugly. And that started because a faculty member had started a campus drought tolerant garden, and it had not worked well, because the faculty member move, they left the university, this thing died. And so is just this legacy that was standing that had really been deeply ingrained into our administrators perspective on what what this could look like and what this could mean for our campus. And so when we were finally able to say, Okay, let's just do like, we'll just do a little test garden, and I did this test garden rod in front of their office, so they had to walk past it every day. I was like, Look, it's beautiful. Everything is blooming at different times, you have all these different colors, it looks great. And so then, you know, six months later, when nothing was dead, everything looks nice, they agreed to just basically transition our whole campus, there's only about 25% of our campus that hasn't been transitioned. And now it's just something that's normal. It's part of the process. Anytime we do a new construction or a building renovation, it's just the canvas standard. It's not anything special. It's not anything new. It's not anything different. And people are like, Oh, my goodness, this is beautiful. This looks so nice. We're in a historic district. And I regularly see people come in and like, take bits of our plants, and I see them, like pop up in the neighborhood around us, which I'm fine with. But occasionally I catch people and they're like, Is this okay? And I'm like, Yes, but I didn't tell you that. But it really did change how how our campus operated and how we integrated with the community. And sounds so cheesy to say, but it made people a little happier on campus. And it made them more proud. You know, I always hear students doing campus tours. And they make a note that, oh, this area is native or California friendly. And I'm like, how did they even know that like, I'm not going to our admissions folks and giving them this information. So it is really something that is trickling down through the university. And it's not not the crazy wild thing that everyone is anticipating it being.
Dave Karlsgodt 16:57
So what I'm hearing is control the credit card and put it in the front lawn of the administration that's the key takeaway so far, okay, go ahead Nurit.
Nurit Katz 17:06
I love it. So I'm going to take a slightly different bend and talk about governance structures. Because we, we've had a really active sustainability Committee for the last decade at UCLA that is really been a huge success of collaboration, faculty, staff, and students. And really a lot of the right decision makers there at the table, whether it's the head of transportation or facilities or areas like that. So the implementation is very much you know, the Associate Vice Chancellor's, etc. But as we approach our ambitious targets, like carbon neutrality by 2025, zero waste that is bearing down on us all now, the decision making that needed to happen was starting to be even higher scale, you know, multimillion dollar infrastructure projects. And so we went to the leadership and our Executive Vice Chancellor and said, we really need an executive committee Now, in addition to our main sustainability committee, and we made a case for it. And we were able to create this executive committee now that actually has the CFO of the university, the CEO of the university, the CEO of our health system, the chair of the Academic Senate, it's one of the hardest meetings to schedule, as you can imagine. But having that commitment from the university to have that cabinet level group get together quarterly to really look at these decisions was a huge win for us. And so I think it's been really successful so far, having that now additional higher level to bring things to from the main committee. So it's not so much one specific project, but it's something that I think is going to be helpful in transforming all of the projects we're considering right now.
Dave Karlsgodt 18:39
You've created a place in which to talk to the people that make the decisions, basically, you've you've institutionalized the decision making process, that's great.
Joseph Fullerton 18:47
Tough acts to follow. I'm kind of humbled to be up here. You know, when I started, six years ago, I was one of maybe two energy folks on community colleges, student count and the community college system, we're the largest, potentially in the world. When I came on, though I was I was an energy management coordinator. My job description basically meant that I was going to hit buttons on the BMS, and figure out where to save energy. I was like, that's not my job. First off, I don't want to do that. You like that? But you hired me. So let me tell you what I am going to do. It Sorry. I'm audacious. So I basically said, here's what we should do, we should think of energy as part of a larger strategic framework, we need to be talking about sustainability. And my boss is a 34 year military veteran. He has a good bark but a very gentle bite. And he said, What the hell? Basically, what are you talking about? And I'm watering down the language for the podcast.
Dave Karlsgodt 19:48
My mom, thanks you. Thank you.
Joseph Fullerton 19:49
Yeah, my mom, too. She won't listen don't worry. So anyway, he kind of begrudgingly was like, go ahead, as long as you're doing the energy work, it's fine. But about two days later, I recognize in order to accomplish this bigger strategic framework that I was going to need lots of help. What I did was I approached Pacific Gas electric, our our utility, and I said, Look, our largest sustainability problem is actually not energy, water waste, curriculum integration, or anything. It's human resources, we have a very large demographic shift, that's going to happen. And we need to hire sustainability professionals in these types of roles. People like me that can do work like me, and kick butt in this role. Because if we don't, we're destined to a whole nother generation of buildings, and don't do stuff the way they're supposed to do. And people that don't know how to properly manage technologically advanced super complex system, PG is like, Okay, so what do you want? Well, I need about $35,000, I'd like to hire somebody fellow to come in and help me out. So we're about three years improved the value of that fellowship, we got continuous grants from, from various resources, establish the fellowship and community colleges teams. After three years, we've accumulated about $400,000 worth of value in that program, through that fellowship calculated minus my administrative costs minus the computers that we had to buy, minus the training and professional development stuff that we sent them to. And they provided a lot of grants, a lot of other funds that brought brought into us, including energy saving consultant services, etc, that otherwise we had to pay for three years in, I said, well, boss, look, we're kicking butt here. How about we hire another person? Look, I got all the metrics here, we're saving a bunch of money. And you asked me to save, like, if I don't save enough money for my own job, like I'm supposed to get Can I did that a couple times over? And I said, and I'm saving enough for another person, plus, actually three more. So how about I build a team? And he said, Well, how about one, so we hired another person. And then two years later, another person. So now our team of three. And so this is the next generation of sustainability professionals that are coming into the role and we still keeping the fellows. And this year, finally, I got internal funding for a fellow whereas before, it was always from grants, and I had to like scrounge and work and be super resourceful, which is fun, but exhausting, the now have internal funding for that, to that is groundbreaking. That's what I'm really proud of.
Dave Karlsgodt 22:17
Alright, so get get hired under false pretenses, then find a cost center and roll your own, right. Is that ok? said it all right? Way over simplifying, of course. All right. Next one. What do you think is the secret sauce that's allowed you to do this? Like, whether what is it about you personally like? or What is it about, you know, the people around you or the organization you're in? I mean, you can answer that however you'd like. We'll start with Nurit. And we'll go this way.
Nurit Katz 22:43
Let's see. I'll answer both of your questions that this role and you know, UCLA, I think a lot of the success that UCLA has really been from this collaborative ground up approach. You know, I hear tales, scary tales from some universities, where it's very much as students versus administration, and really, at UC, at UCLA, and at UC more broadly, our sustainability policy originated out of student and administration collaboration. And a lot of what we do is built on that we have a fairly groundbreaking program within UC and at UCLA started as the education for Sustainable Living program. But the specific part I want to talk about at UCLA is called sustainability action research. And it's a two quarter long course, that's run by students with faculty advisors, and I've been serving as one of those. And basically, the students form teams, and they're paired with campus stakeholders, that could be the recycling coordinator, or it could be someone in athletics, and then they do hands on sustainability research that often leads to implementation even during the course. So the students get this concrete experience that when a lot of our alumni say is like the best part of their experience, and the most useful in terms of their career, because they learned project management and communication and all of these really good things skills, and this sort of client based project, and the university gets interesting data and support that we need. So it's an incredible program, and I think has created a sense among our students, that we're all part of a team here that you can work with the administration, none of our students for the most part are knocking on the Chancellor's door with petitions or, or yelling about what needs to get done, everyone, you know, is working in really constructive ways. So I think that's been a huge win for UCLA and a huge sort of secret sauce to our success. And then in terms of these types of roles, and I think everyone will probably agree with this, I think the Sustainability Officer role in particular, you have to be somewhat of a renaissance person, like a jack of all trades, master of none type human, because you're not all about transportation, or you're not all about procurement, you're juggling 10,000 projects. And, you know, when I'm giving career counseling to our students, I make sure they know that it takes a specific men to want to do that type of job, it's not for everybody. And there are a lot of more specialized focused roles available in the field, there's a lot of different ways to contribute to sustainability without having it in your title. So I think that's something important to understand.
Joseph Fullerton 25:15
So, I'm the middle of five, my name is Joe, which is about the most average name you could possibly have. I grew up in the middle class environment outside of Philadelphia, which is like the middle of like, all middle, so I mean, I'm like the middle of everything. And so I'm perfectly comfortable getting in the middle of conversations. Like there's a story of when, when I was when I was three, and my older brother was five, my little brother was one, I was negotiating, like a lawyer would on our front steps about how Tim, my older brother was supposed to give the toy back to Matt, who could barely hobble down the steps at one, right. So I had this like, ingrained in me. So as a sustainability professional and similar to what Maria was saying, having this negotiator bridge builder, facilitator, skilled, basically, like, drilled into me from every level is really critical to my role in my organization is what really has, I think, driven our success, and really helps me feel fulfilled. And I and I love telling stories. There's data and I like crunching data, but actually making that stories stick, right, numbers numb. So I really love telling stories, I love getting people's perspective on things, and putting people the heroes in my organization up on the pedestal that they deserve to be up on and stepping back and saying, hey, this, this person is really awesome. And they win the sustainability awesomeness prize of the universe.
Mackenzie Crigger 26:40
Ultimately, I think a lot of the success that I've been able to have at Chapman is number one, no one sounds like me. And so as soon as I call someone I show up in their office, they're like, oh, What is she saying? So it forces them to pay a little more attention. And it has also enabled me to make a ton of friends. Yeah, absolutely. We'll do accent coaching after. But so much of getting stuff done in this field is collaboration and finding partnerships. And if you can find a way to make friends with people and just build a little bit of rapport, they're much more willing to listen and talk with you. You know, if I just sent my CFO numbers all the time, he would not show up in my office, he would not care. But when I show up in his office, and I tell him some funny story, then we can segue that into a sustainability conversation, and He will give me money. So it, it does, it's all about finding what works for you and the environment where you are because of the same thing that works for me, it's not going to work for me, and potentially vice versa. Unfortunately, it it's situational. It's campus specific. And so find what works for y'all.
Jillian Buckholz 27:48
At East Bay, I think what has made the position successful, there has been the faculty, it was faculty that were pushing sustainability before I got there, it was faculty that wanted the position to be an active academic affairs. And it was faculty that when I got hired, said, here's the list of things we want you to do within the first five years. So I sort of had this five year plan put in front of me. And it's been faculty who have been pushing the academic side of things, your academic senate, and now have a committee on academic center for sustainability, which I'm an official member of as administrator and kind of the dark side. And I tried to like stay out of faculty stuff a little bit because I, you know, want them to move things along as they've been doing so well. So that's really been, I think, the secret to the success of the position there. And then kind of like Joe, when I was a kid, my dad put one of those can crushers on the wall of the basement, it was my job like crush the cans and put them in the recycle bin and take them to the curb and are taking back to the grocery store. Remember these up conveyor belts, and they're like back at the grocery store. And you can like, seal us up, go back there. And I mean, ever since then, I've just thought, how cool is recycling and how cool is the environment, it's all I can remember wanting to do is save the planet. I mean, when I went to college, I was a biology major. And everybody in my classes want to be a doctor. And I was like, maybe I'm in the wrong major. And so I switched environmental geography and it all worked out. But just being really passionate, there's a lot of bureaucracy where we work, and it's hard work, you don't always have support. But if you really care about these issues, I think we'll be all have in common is we want to do something that is right for the people and the planet. And that's what what drives me is one of the ingredients in the sauce.
Dave Karlsgodt 29:27
Very good, right? We've got lots of time. And if you don't ask questions, I'll ask more. But does anybody have a question to start right up front and you're in Joe's position last year, so be careful
Speaker 1 29:40
Love your stories. And I'm going to play off something Mackenzie said about the faculty member who did what you think of is a good thing. They planted native job talent plants that they didn't water because they left. That's an example of a good intention gone awry. Can you give other examples of good intentions gone awry and how to deal with that, because a lot of us want do good. Yet, if you don't do good in the right way, it may keep you from being able to do the good that you wanted to do.
Mackenzie Crigger 30:07
Unfortunately, on Chapman's campus, we have so many examples of good intentions gone awry. And a another one I walked into our storage unit the other day, and I have about 1000. And I'm not exaggerating, 1000 teeny tiny little recycling bins. I don't know where they came from. Turns out someone got them from a grant that they had applied for and was a faculty member. And then they realize that these bins are too little, they can't do anything with them. And so they're just sitting somewhere taking up space. And I think we all have examples like that across our campus. And so much of that could be avoided. If we just talked to one another, you just get out of your office and you walk down the hall or you walk across the campus and just say, Hey, this is what I'm thinking about, where are the holes? What thing is going to be wrong? It's a little harder for some reason to do that with faculty members. And I say that as someone who is technically a faculty member, we get in our own way a lot of the time. And so finding ways around that and just in you sort of have to remind people all the time, like, Hey, did you talk to someone so about this, or Hey, I know that this person has an expertise here. And you you you teach systems, so you know that better than anybody, there are all these things that that can influence and, you know, these unintended consequences that you're not even seeing in your system until you get out of your own way.
Nurit Katz 31:24
I can piggyback on that. And it's funny because I was gonna say the same sort of thing around systems, which it sounds like you're deeply familiar with.
Dave Karlsgodt 31:31
Who are we talking to, by the way, just because on the audio they can't see Daniel.
Speaker 1 31:37
I'm Dan Fernandez and I teach a class on systems thinking.
Dave Karlsgodt 31:37
Very good. Thank you.
Nurit Katz 31:38
Yes. So if you didn't hear that Dan Fernandez, who teaches systems thinking asked us a question about good intentions. And within systems, that's the understanding that you come to is all of these unintended consequences, feedback loops, things that we don't anticipate. We run into this all the time and sustainability. I think, right now, a lot of organizations are struggling with compostable plastic, so a lot of people have switched it, hear the groans. So a lot of people in trying to meet their Zero Waste targets did a lot of switching over to compostable plastics, and then find out that they aren't so easy to compost, and you have to have access to industrial composting. And ultimately, with all the issues that are going on, we really need to focus more on renewables as opposed to just the compostable. So there's a quote that I use in my class that I think is Oliver Wendell Holmes. And he said, I don't give a fig about the simplicity, this side of complexity. I think that was like early way of Well, you know what that saying, but he said, but I would give my arm I think he says, For the simplicity on the other side of complexity. And so acknowledging and understanding that we're dealing with complex systems and taking the time, before you finalize the decision to try to think of all the stakeholders that could be impacted all the unintended consequences, and all of that can really help avoid getting stuck with a bunch of stuff that you don't need, or an investment that's hard to reverse or anything like that.
Joseph Fullerton 33:00
So don't let the tail wag the dog, right. The opposite of system thinking for sustainability is random acts of sustainability, right? Like the road to heck, for Dave's mom is paved with good intention, right. And maybe will fit one more cliche into this sentence. So No, but seriously, the the random acts of sustainability thing is great, but how to really make sure those things are pointing in the right direction and are connected to larger goals as hard, making sure they actually have the intended consequences. And results is a whole nother level. There's the systemization of it, which is really important. But the individual impacts and the results of those have on individual who initiated them. And the timing of which the intervention actually happened, are all really critical elements to think about even the right size recycling bin, put in in the wrong way at the wrong time for the wrong person is not going to go right.
Jillian Buckholz 33:59
I'd just add that I've learned through working with the diversity officers on campus about thinking about intention versus impact. And can you align the two and make sure that, you know your intention might be go bigger impact might not be? And can you see that before you implement something?
Dave Karlsgodt 34:17
All right, go ahead Ann.
Ann McCormick 34:19
Great. Thank you. And I keep having this thought is I'm hearing you answer these questions about the most valuable resource that you all have. And that's the students and how you funnel the students good intentions and enthusiasm. We've worked with campuses who have so many different student organizations and so much great energy. And I know it's particularly issue at the community colleges when you've got two years, right, and they're moving on. So can you give examples about how you've gotten impact from students, you know, beyond just the few interns, but how you get them up to speed fast and channel their energy and a really valuable direction,
Dave Karlsgodt 34:56
Like at the student body level. Okay.
Nurit Katz 34:59
I'm sure we all have a stories for this one. The sustainability action research program that I mentioned is it's been a really powerful tool for showing students not only the students who participate in the program, but then as we talked about, and share those projects, it really gives students a sense that they can be part of implementation. But another really important tool we've had is, for many years, we have like kind of the opposite challenge sometimes of some colleges where people are passing through really quickly, we have a lot of enthusiasm. So we have 40 different student groups on campus focused on sustainability. Yeah, it's a lot. There's one that's just about bees and ones that that's about oceans and, and they keep growing. And so years ago, I started what I think originally was called the green Council. Now we call it the student sustainability Leadership Council. And basically, I bring together the leaders of all the student groups regularly so that we can try to encourage and foster collaboration across the group. So we don't have five different groups calling our office saying we want to do X, Y, Z, Zero waste project. And we're like, oh, well, did you know these guys are doing that. So trying to create a some opportunities for larger collaborations and projects among all these different student groups. But it also helps our office stay on top of what's going on with all the students and and engage them in a broader way. So that's been a really good tool. And then there's lots more in but there's lots more people in this podcast. So who's next>
Dave Karlsgodt 36:16
l like that enthusiasm clearing house, I suppose, right? There you go.
Jillian Buckholz 36:20
In the internship program that I run, I try to focus the beginning of the fall semester on professional development. I'm not sure about all of you. But I didn't really know how to write an email to an administrator. When I graduated college, I didn't know how to work with someone who technically was higher above me in a work situation. So I didn't know time management, any of that stuff. So I try to be really deliberate about teaching them professional development skills right off the bat. And then I give them uniforms, a casual uniform, like a T shirt, and then the Polo, so that they can feel a little bit more professional. And I let them take full rein on what their project with giving them a little bit of background and usually have some rollover students so they can kind of help with that. But then I told them, it's okay to fail, like this is college fail all over the place, this is the time to do it. And then I will try and help you learn how to not fail when you graduate and get a real job and finger quotations. The fact that they have autonomy, they can't usually handle it at first. And they're, they're like, I've never had a job, or somebody told me exactly what to do. And I can do whatever I want. I'm like, yeah, sure, go for it also, because I'm very busy. And I can always be looking over their shoulder. So it's helpful for me too. But then by the end of it, the feedback I always get is this is the best job ever, because I got to plan the position for myself, and I got to figure it out on my own. And it really gives them the confidence, I think and experience that when they're applying for internships or fellowships, or they get a job, they can say, Yes, I ran this program. Yes, I designed it on my own. And it's just, it's empowering. So that's been what's worked.
Joseph Fullerton 38:04
So at community colleges is a little, we don't have 40 student groups focused on bees and flowers, I don't envy that that challenge. The challenge we have is very permeable barriers, right. And we have students, literally from the age of nine, all the way up to 90 something on our campuses, all education levels, all shapes, sizes, religions, sexual orientations, backgrounds, etc. and anybody can come on to our campus from the community at any point and take any number of classes or not. Right. So, you know, we really try to think very creatively using salsa as our analogy for how to engage our students. And so we have the mild, medium and spicy groups of students. I didn't grow to be the size by being picky about food and sauces. One of my favorites. On the mild side, this is the folks that do maybe have a little bit of time, there part of a class, maybe a larger class, they could do an assessment, something like that very basic, you know, the medium is part of a smaller group, they have maybe a couple hours during a week, or you know, the little bit more focused on a specific thing. Maybe it's a group of folks. And then on the spicy side, and we also have super spicy like habanero ghost pepper, spicy, spicy side, basic, spicy side, we have like, like an honor student. And honestly, our honor students often happen to be our high school students. They're in high school on our campus taking college credits. And they are, they are really the outcast of their high school environments, because they're so bright, so motivated and so mature for their age that they just don't fit in with their high schools. That was it mean High School, that's for sure. So I really admire that cape capacity. So our process for engaging them and really empowering them and then enriching them. And we do use this three E's as kind of part of our brand is to support them with whatever way they need. And sometimes that means that when their grandpa dies, that we don't make sure they have, I'm thinking of somebody specific, that we give them, sorry. Excuse me, but they that we make sure they have the wraparound services that they need, like that student, if they don't have food, like there's all those basic things that come into play for our students. And that's where we go, right, we go to those places with them and give them what they need for whatever time that we have with them. We have students that have gone through our programs, in our fellowship, and in our model medium and spicy salsa analogies, let's bring back some some light to this conversation in they have gone through that and have changed their major, you know, I think ones even maybe even in this room right now, those are really points of pride for me and are engaged and help me stay engaged and empowered and enriched as well.
Dave Karlsgodt 40:57
It's not the first bit of tears I've seen about that relationship. I saw somebody from UCLA with one of your colleagues having a tearful departure after leaving the conference yesterday. So it's really fun to see how much I mean that this is why we do it. Right. This is it's our future. That's great. All right, so who's got an upper for us?
Speaker 2 41:17
Maybe, I don't know.
Dave Karlsgodt 41:18
Or you can take us really dark.
Speaker 2 41:21
Well, a few of you guys have alluded to enough success, like having a champion for a project, whether that's a faculty member or one of yourselves. And so I'm curious how you would handle or if you have examples of what you would do if you lose that champion. If it's kind of you know, sustainability isn't entrenched, already in the institution.
Dave Karlsgodt 41:43
Yeah, that is kind of a dark question. I think that's good.
Jillian Buckholz 41:45
So, at Cal State East Bay, our chief diversity officer just recently retired. And I had been working with her the whole entire time that I'd been on campus to try and deliberately enter diversity and sustainability into the fabric of our campus. Cal State East Bay has the most diverse student population of any campus in the United States on the continent. Apparently, we're number five if you include Hawaii. So diversity is forefront and what we do sustainability, not as much we're getting there. So I want to make sure I was working with her. And she came to CHESC two years in a row, we talked about how we were just trying to start this conversation, she went to he with me, which is the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in higher education, for those who don't know, has a conference, and we're doing all this great work, bringing going into the classroom together when she retired, and another chief diversity officer has now been hired, I'm having to start all over again. And it's been more challenging. Just because this person is new, they have a lot of work they need to do and sustainability might not be, you know, at the top of that list. So what has helped has been working with my other colleagues in the CSU, and then also starting to work with the student groups and coordinators on campus that work on diversity issues. So even though you might lose that champion, and and you will have to it's cyclical, you might have to just start back from the bottom again, and work your way up. But there are going to be other champions out there that maybe you didn't recognize. And it's sort of their time to come into the light and working with those folks. And then bringing the other folks in in those positions. Once they feel like they've got their feet under him a little bit when they're new.
Mackenzie Crigger 43:28
Just to sort of echo that, um, so on the campus sustainability committee, it's made up of students, faculty, and staff, and we had a really great chair for three or four years. And she had been on the committee for several years prior to that, and she was gung ho, she was awesome, she was great. And then she got her new job and moved to Yale. I mean, good on her. But I was very sad. But what happened in that moment, though, is it gave, like you said, it gives other people this opportunity to rise up and to become that campus sustainability chair and the person that we have now, she'd been on the committee for a couple of years, and is just very honest, she was like, I don't really know very much about sustainability. But I'm here because I know that this is important. This is something that I want to be more involved in on our campus. And now three years later, she's our campus sustainability chair she's leading trainings on, I'd no longer have to show up at our professional development trainings, because I know that she's going to do such a great job, she continues to just bring more people in, and it has access to people on campus that I don't necessarily have access to. And so when like you said, you know, it's always going to be cyclical, people are always going to fall away, and people are always going to come in. But what I found is that, when that happens, it brings a new perspective, it brings some new life. And you you may end up with something that's even more valuable than than what you thought. But you do kind of have to start back again. But you're on a college campus. And so you're in this perpetual educational opportunity moment.
Nurit Katz 44:52
Yeah, I'll second. All of that, I think we're at a time of some pretty big transitions for UCLA, actually, our Associate Vice Chancellor, environment, sustainability just got appointed by the governor to go up to Sacramento. So we're losing a major player there, our Executive Vice Chancellor just stepped down out of his roles, we have a brand new provost coming in. So a lot of change. But what I have found over the years is, you know, as they were saying, there are always new champions and so you have to be kind of on it and go after and find them. I'm going to embarrass one of them who's in the audience, Brendan Bellina, who's leading our green IT Task Force is a new champion who's enthusiastic enough to be here at CHESC, and just all over, you know, helping us grow these green it initiatives. And it was an initiative that lost a champion A while ago, and it kind of it had faded for a while, but it has new life now. You know, in terms of easing that transition, I think, planning ahead, knowing that people can leave and doubling up as much as possible. You know, we with our carbon neutrality fellows, which is a UC program, where we have a couple students each year, we've started deliberately trying to have one student serve multiple years, so they can train the next person and you can do that on your committees to have a co chair, find ways to make sure that when it's not all about one person and one personality, and then you know, institutionalize, institutionalize, institutionalize as much as you can, and I think you'll be in better shape when you do lose somebody, you know, really passionate like that.
Joseph Fullerton 46:20
Yeah, just very briefly. I'm like, known for analogies. So you know, there's this thing where a tree is never more alive than when it's falling over and decaying. Right. So I think we've kind of heard that. So let me let me just drop that. But it is I mean, and that's, and that's where things start to get really interesting. And, and new life pops up. That's the theme here.
Dave Karlsgodt 46:46
That's good. All right. Well, who's who's got another question?
Speaker 3 46:50
So speaking of institutionalization, specifically for faculty, I know some of you come from that side of the house. But for you know, especially being a one person shop. Do you have any tips or like best practices in terms of really making that jump from? I'm just working individually with all these professors, and they might or might not be around next year, that we did this awesome project? But then they went away? Like, how do you actually build that into more of a college level or, you know, institutionalized, where it's actually in the learning outcomes for the university? Like, how do you make that jump from just these kind of one off projects.
Mackenzie Crigger 47:25
So I, my primary position is within facilities management, but I am, I'm a lecturer in the College of environmental science and policy. And one of the things that has happened, and part of it is because after six years of teaching in that college, I have a really good relationship with everybody else that's in that college. But we have actual sustainability learning outcomes that are embedded in all of those classes. And then the other thing that we did several years ago is we went through and we audited all of our college, not only the science college, but all the colleges on campus, we audited their whole courses to see where we could be adding sustainability learning outcomes, or suggesting, hey, you teach this class, are you doing any sort of section on sustainability, so then it becomes part of the syllabus that is passed on year to year. And so it's showing up in macroeconomics, it's showing up in accounting classes, it's showing up in English and rhetoric classes, because those faculty members now you know, when you come in, you're teaching some sort of composition, one on one that was on the syllabus that you've inherited from someone else. So it's just part of the program. And I don't know if other universities do this, but chairman has, I don't know, two weeks before school, all the faculty comes together. And they do basically an intensive two days learning. They're all these seminars, and one of the things I've started doing is I go and teach a sustainability in your curriculum class. And I basically have people bring a syllabus, and we sit down, and we go through and figure out how they can add sustainability into their curriculum. I attended a session on this at chess like three or four years ago, it was super great. He offers one almost every year. And it was, it was really powerful to see not only how other faculty members were already doing this, but how schools had institutionalized that process. And so I think if you can just find some faculty members that are willing to put that into their syllabus, talk to Dean's talk to department directors, that's really for me, that has been the best way to actually make that happen. And most faculty members shy away from that, because they think that I'm an expert in this, well, I don't want to teach it, I have the opposite approach. I'm like, I don't know anything about this. Let's learn about it as a class. And so I really tried to take that attitude into faculty meetings inside this is like, it doesn't have to be scary. This can be a learning opportunity for everyone. So I think just find some champion some people that you can go to and hope for the best.
Dave Karlsgodt 49:46
Shameless self promotion here at Episode Three of the podcast, we talked with Krista Heiser at the University of Hawaii talks a lot about that specific topic. But I think was your question really more around? Like, was it education? Or was it operational?
Speaker 3 50:01
Maybe a little bit of both, because there's a huge difference, especially if you're a one person shop, where you're trying to do all of these sustainability projects to get things going? And how do you really make that jump where the campus is taking ownership and actually, you know, institutionalizing sustainability and saying, Hey, this is part of our culture. So not everything has to run through this one sustainability coordinator. We actually have other departments and divisions, academic side, people who are actually like taking the leap and saying, Hey, we're going to do sustainability, too, because you've inspired us was there a moment like that?
Joseph Fullerton 50:31
I can speak to both sides of this, right. So for a couple years, I was a single single person shop. And as we're basically forming our first generation sustainability initiative, the way I thought about it was, I need to recognize it as much as possible. So I really started to think of our organization as a series of nodes and gateways and pass between those nodes with gateways in between. So I was using my system thinking diagrams, I literally mapped out the organization on a piece of paper, the size of my wall, who was who what are they doing, helped me learn the organization helped me know, where they were physically in space, who they reported to who their administrator was, who reported to them, etc. And then I looked at their calendars, and I looked at what kind of meetings they were going not like in a creepy way, but just like, like, like, look at, like, what meetings are happening, instead of spending a whole bunch of time tracking down this person or getting in front of them and trying to schedule a meeting, I would just show up wherever they were with a whole bunch of other people. And then I thought of myself as the modern farmer, I'm going to come here and plant some seeds. And the thing about the the farmer analogy is that you can't forget where you planted the seed. And you had to know how much water it needs, how much sun it needs, what kind of soil it's supposed to be in. And, and so part of that mapping process was okay, I planted I planted a seed here and idea and so I would go into meeting but that's really interesting. I wonder if we could ever develop like a sustainability pathway to four year universities? That'd be cool. And then I'd like, walk out. And then, and then, you know, I go to next meeting literally, like two minutes later. I'm like, yeah, and it'll be like the finance meeting, like, yeah, I wonder if we like, how can we figure out how to pay for part time faculty position, some release time, perhaps, like, I wonder if that would help do like a sustainability pathway program to a four year university, like literally, and then and then I go next meeting and do some iteration thereof, right? plant seeds, plant seeds, then I come back couple weeks later, but like, you know, I heard somebody who's doing a sustainability pathway GE program, over at blah, blah, blah. And they're like, yeah, we heard about that. And then all of a sudden, it's their idea, right? And like, yeah, like, and now we have the sustainability pathway programs, you know, took four years, but the seed was planted, the water was applied, the sun was shined, all the things all the soil was treated, and and now that's growing, and then it's off on its own. And now my job is really to collect fruit and make sure that can be eaten by the administrator so they can feel happy and full in their in their roles. Right.
JIllian Buckholz 53:12
I would just add, in addition to what has been said here about finding champion champions is weaving into the fabric of the university. We just had a new dining services contract, and I was able to get a lot of sustainability stuff in it. And so now the new dining services provider, they are sitting down with me when they first get there and they're like, okay, sustainability, let's talk about it. It's part of what we have to do. So it's already in dining, housing oversees dining, so they're like, okay, we have to do you know, this in dining, we should be thinking about zero waste. We need new signs, Gillian, will you help us design the science for the waste enclosures, and it just kind of snowballs like that? Another example is through academic senate bylaws, they have a deal flow and a sailor, which is a diversity equity liaison officer and a student affairs liaison officer. And I was like, why don't we have a su low a sustainability liaison officer. And so now I'm working with Academic Senate to write it into the bylaws so that it is just part of the fabric of what we're doing in East Bay. So if I'm not in the room, someone looks at the bylaws, and they're like, Oh, we have to have this. And there's already a model for it, which is great, too. So no one's going to say no to me, because they're already doing it into other divisions. So just working it into contracts, working into bylaws, working into what you're already doing in the way the campus operates, is huge. So that if you go somewhere else, that framework won't break down while you're gone.
Nurit Katz 54:42
Yeah, I think that type of institutionalization really matters. And I really, really, really, really love that farmer analogy. I think a lot of what we do is planting seeds. And you sound like a much more thoughtful farmer, I think sometimes, I'm more just like scattering seeds all over the place, and then forgetting to come back and live them. But you know, sometimes, sometimes we're successful at that. You know, but I think another thing to keep in mind, as you're building that ownership across campus is recognition. You know, speaking of like, administrators feeling full and happy. You know, taking the time to recognize your champions, putting together teams of cross campus people to work on stuff. When things go slow at UCLA, one of my favorite things to remind myself about the institution is that we are an institution with a committee on committees, this is like an actual thing at UCLA. So I take a moment and I'm like, okay, committee on committees. But you know, all joking aside, committees are actually really useful. If you're an office of one, get the committee and more than just one, like task forces on different areas, you should have a waste task force that has key people from housing from different areas, you know, working together, and that way, they can start to have some ownership, but it's not just the expectation that, you know, you'll do everything on your own. Again, you know, back to the recognition piece, have a sustainability champions program or awards program, or, you know, certification programs, anything that really helps people get recognized for the amazing work that they're doing, championing across the university, and that'll really help grow that enthusiasm for it.
Dave Karlsgodt 56:18
All right, we gotta wrap this up. I just wanted to first of all say thank you to our panelists. I thought this was a lot of fun. Thank you for Let's give them a round of applause. Yeah. I also wanted to say thank you to the folks here at UCSB, audio, guys, thank you very much for your help. And in our volunteers, Zoe and Blake, thank you very much. That's it for this episode. I did want to give a special shout out to our summer intern Kaia Findlay, who helped organize and produce this episode. To learn more about today's episode or any of our shows, you can visit our website at campusenergypodcast.com. We recently added a new transcript feature on the website, and we're working to add this to all of our previous episodes. If you'd like to follow the show on social media, we are on Twitter @energypodcast, and also now on LinkedIn. Just search for campus energy and sustainability podcast. If you'd like to support the show, please consider leaving a rating a review on iTunes or sending a link to a friend. As always, thanks for listening.
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