Green fair draws spirited crowd

First annual Sustainability Internship & Resources Fair shows students a green career path

Eliza Milio, 20, Waste Prevention Campaign co-coordinator, and Nina Mautner, 20, chair of the Student Environmental Center, are doing their part to encourage green practices on campus.

The first annual Sustainability Internship & Resources Fair drew a large and spirited crowd to the Cowell College Courtyard this week, introducing hundreds of students to green internships and jobs.

The fair was a chance for students to find out about organizations that offer volunteer opportunities, academic internships and paid positions in environmental fields, said Gabi Kirk, 20, a student coordinator at the fair.

Volunteers encouraged students to decrease their energy use and sign up for the UCSC Site Stewardship Program, in which interns “adopt” and look after sensitive natural areas on campus and help with its restoration, while fighting habitat destruction, erosion, and the growth of invasive non-native plants.

The emphasis was on sustainability and fun. The Student Environmental Center is holding an energy conservation competition, in which the students of Kresge, Porter, Stevenson and Cowell colleges are pitted against each other from Nov.1-19. The college that saves the most energy will receive a prize.

The theme of the contest is “Do It In The Dark.’’  Volunteers handed out “I’m a Cool Slug’’ buttons to stir up enthusiasm.

“[The competition] will show students how much energy they consume, while allowing the university to save money,’’ said Cameron Fields, 20, an environmental studies major who took part in the fair. He said the competition will prevent students from having a “hotel mentality” in which they don’t take responsibility for their own energy consumption.

The fair also celebrated the new green-building certification for Cowell Dining Commons in recognition for energy saving, water-use efficiency and green building materials. On Monday afternoon, campus architect Felix Ang, along with Ben Oberhand, a student with the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Campus Program, and Scott Berlin, Director of UCSC Dining,  spoke about the new project. Chancellor George Blumenthal presented the LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] plaque to be hung in the dining hall.

Oberhand said that the changes to the building are already producing results. “By retrofitting faucets we saved 65 percent of the total water usage,” he said.

The Sustainability Internship and Resources Fair was a joint effort involving the Campus Sustainability Office, Dining Services, Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Campus Program and the Food Systems Working Group.