California’s colleges and universities are going green at breakneck speed, and students truly are leading the way. That was the oft-echoed sentiment this week at UCSB, which for the fourth time in just eight years hosted the UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference, where more than 500 of the state’s brightest minds in higher education converge to show off their latest successes, discuss similar hurdles, and collaborate toward a more eco-friendly future. The four-day conference kicked off on Sunday with tours and finished Wednesday with workshops, but the bulk of the programming was Monday and Tuesday, with each day featuring keynote addresses at Campbell Hall as well as smaller presentations on 13 distinct “tracks,” ranging from the basics of water, waste, health, food, building, transportation, and energy to the more heady topics of social equity, research and curriculum, procurement, and institutionalizing sustainability. The sold-out conference began with a keynote by Dave Newport, director of the U of Colorado-Boulder’s environmental center, who showed details of how climate change leads to the death of 300,000 people-specifically, he said, the least wealthy, educated, and white-and $125 billion in economic losses each year. With that, the panels commenced, touching on, among other topics, evapotranspiration monitors, living roofs, LEED certification, and how to use less than six bottles of water to make one bottle of wine. The conference was a chance for people on disparate campuses to remember that they are part of a much bigger cause. “You are not alone,” said UCLA’s Nurit Katz during the closing panel. “This is a very vibrant, very active community.”


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