March 14, 2014

by Lindsey Agnew

UC Berkeley staff from a variety of departments came together to exchange ideas about sustainability and learn how to incorporate sustainable practices into their offices during the Office of Sustainability’s third annual Staff Sustainability Training. The free WORKbright green event took place on Friday, February 28, from 10 am to 5pm.

The staff sustainability training was structured such that interactive discussions would follow presentations by campus sustainability experts. The event began with an introduction by Sustainability Manager Kira Stoll. This was followed by panelist presentations by Director of Sustainability Lisa McNeilly, TGIF Coordinator Katherine Walsh, and Capitol Projects Manager Tim Wert. Topics included green certifications, water reduction ideas, sources of funding for sustainability projects, and building LEED certifications.

Lunch was catered by Bancroft Catering, and included 95% organic, humane, local, and fair trade items – meeting one of the qualifications which enabled it to be certified as a zero waste green event. Following lunch, there were presentations about myPower and energy saving strategies by Energy Management Communications Specialist Erin Fenley, and proper waste reduction practices by Campus Recycling and Refuse Services Manager Lin King.

Staff members attending the event found the information relevant and the techniques feasible. “It gives people the opportunity to learn more about sustainable practices, and we can bring that information into our departments,” said Chris San Diego, who works with Cal Dining. Remi Mizuiri, from Rec Sports, added that the training provided ideas that could be incorporated both in departments and at home. Cliff Lobberegt of the school of Optometry said that he enjoyed learning about different grants available and was looking forward to sharing funding sources with the “Green Eyes” sustainability group.

Many staff members found the discussions to be very helpful. “The most important thing I’ve taken away is information from my colleagues – products they’re using, projects they’re taking on, and resources available that I wouldn’t have learned about otherwise,” said Celia Hamman, from the College of Engineering.

This exchange of ideas was especially helpful in finding sustainable solutions for some of the problems that an older campus poses, such as a lack of kitchenettes and water stations. “Our offices have a lot of water coolers, and we definitely want to look into replacing them [with more sustainable options]. That would be the top thing that I take back to my office and do,” said Lily Zhang, who works with Electrical Engineering and Computing Service.

Events like the Staff Sustainability training are imperative for the spread of information on how to reduce the campus’s environmental footprint. “I wish there was an easier way to make this information known, and an exponential way to get this information out. I’ve worked here for nine years and this is the first time I’m getting this information,” said Nicole Sattler from Educational and Technology Services. 

Angel Liang of CIEE added that she found the event particularly informative because in her department’s off-campus location results in them missing out on a lot of information. “I thought it was really informative – I didn’t realize how many resources were out there, and I got ideas how to improve my own office,” said Liang.