Interns promote saving energy at Cal State Long Beach

LONG BEACH - 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 currently serves all three higher education systems in California. Student interns involved in the program implement projects targeting energy usage, promote energy efficiency to students, make operational change recommendations and work to encourage the implementation of energy efficiency lessons into course curricula. "We just launched the Green Campus Program in April and are excited about moving it forward. We are currently developing a Web site and are talking to students to let them know the program exists," said Allie Bussjaeger, manager of the Green Campus Program at CSULB. She is currently studying psychology as an undergraduate and plans to pursue a master's degree in either environmental science and policy or speech and language pathology. Bussjaeger continued, "We have a big project planned for the fall semester, which will be an energy competition in the residence halls that will feature all the buildings competing to see which can reduce their energy the most over a one-month period." Including CSULB, the Green Campus Program is in place on 19 California State University, University of California and California Community College campuses across the state. The alliance recruits, selects and oversees approximately four interns per campus. A main goal of the Green Campus Program is to build pathways for students to green careers through trainings, 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, educational campaigns and the facilitation of retrofits. 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. Along with Bussjaeger, the intern team consists of Treasurer Felix Navarrete, a La Habra native and environmental science and policy major who is minoring in Spanish, and its Secretary Jennifer Mendoza, an environmental science and policy major who was raised in North County San Diego. The team plans to recruit an additional intern during the fall semester. "At its core, the Green Campus Program is about cutting energy costs, especially now with our reduced budget here at Cal State Long Beach," said Bussjaeger. "We will also work hard to promote the importance of being more environmentally conscious while we all try to create a more sustainable world through energy conservation." The interns are currently working on a project to ensure CSULB classrooms are as energy efficient as possible. The project will feature the use of HOBO data loggers, which will enable the team to record the activity of the occupancy sensors through the on/off changes of lights in the classrooms. 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 allocates funding for 40 hours of intern time per week. The interns also have an operating budget that they use to secure space for events, offer incentives for student conservation and purchase new metering equipment. The interns are also supported through continuous remote consultation from the alliance, regular on-campus visits and bi-annual, program-wide convergences. 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."

********** Published: July 15, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 13