To better increase awareness regarding energy conservation and bridge the divide between students and institutional energy costs, Cal State Long Beach’s (CSULB) new student-led Green Campus Program is working to instill and develop sustainable concepts and practices at the university.
The Green Campus Program was developed by the Alliance to Save Energy and serves all three higher education systems in California. Student interns involved in the program implement projects targeting energy usage, promote energy efficiency to students, recommend operational changes and encourage adding energy efficiency lessons into course curricula.
A main goal of the Green Campus Program is to build pathways for students to green careers through training, mentorships, internships, volunteer opportunities and project-based learning. The program strives to help everyone on college campuses realize the possibility of measurable energy savings through best practices, campaigns and retrofitting.
With supervision from the alliance’s staff and input from CSULB, the interns are primarily responsible for the day-to-day implementation of all the Green Campus Program’s activities on campus.
The interns are working on a project to ensure CSULB classrooms are as energy efficient as possible. The project will use HOBO data loggers that will enable the team to record classroom occupancy sensor activity through the on/off changes of lights.
The interns will watch for irregular patterns in lighting usage that indicate when automatic light sensors in the classrooms that are currently installed are not working properly. The team will then inform the Facilities Management Department about the problems.
The alliance’s rationale for developing the Green Campus Program and recruiting student interns is that educational campaigns can result in significant energy savings by changing energy use behaviors and purchasing decisions. The organization believes students are effective advocates on campus and are best able to reach out to their peers and high-level decision makers.
Institutions of higher education spend a significant portion of their annual operating budgets on utility services. To help reduce these costs, the interns will also work closely with administrators, faculty and staff to create a strategic plan that addresses each of the Green Campus Program’s goals and ensures it is uniquely tailored to the needs, challenges and strengths of CSULB.
On average, CSULB spends more than $7.5 million on its utilities bills per year, according to Paul Wingco, energy and sustainability manager in the CSULB Facilities Management Department. He believes that as the Green Campus Program moves forward, the interns will directly contribute to CSULB’s overall effort to go green and to become a more sustainable campus.
“The Green Campus Program interns will no doubt provide a tremendous boost to spreading energy awareness on campus by engaging students, faculty and staff in their projects and initiatives,” said Wingco. “This is important because at Cal State Long Beach our energy sources are finite, so everyone on campus must do what they can to use energy wisely and to minimize our impact on the environment.”