Sustainability Summit 2022 recap
This year's Sustainability Summit was a triumphant return to an in-person event to share news and accomplishments in sustainability, honor student, staff and faculty Sustainability Champions — with help from the chancellor — and have an insightful conversation with our keynote speaker on environmental justice.
Since the last Summit a year ago, UC Davis published a Voluntary University Review cataloging the university's collective engagement with and advancement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The review, one of the first and few in the world for a university, will help guide the new Campus Advisory Committee on Sustainability that launched in fall 2021. This advisory committee, formed of many stakeholders from across UC Davis, is charged with helping lead UC Davis in its journey towards sustainability, identifying areas of opportunity for improvement, and nurturing existing strengths. One opportunity the committee is overseeing is an effort to create a plan for a fossil fuel-free UC Davis. In January, Chancellor May charged the committee, and its co-chairs, to produce a pathway plan identifying actions to take to move away from fossil fuels and towards a renewable, regenerative, and sustainable future. Find out more about the Fossil Fuel-Free Pathway Plan.
Chancellor honors Sustainability Champions
Chancellor Gary May presented four Sustainability Champion Awards to two students, a staff member and a faculty member.
Sydney Cliff was honored as the Student Sustainability Champion, as she approaches graduation with a degree in Environmental Policy and Planning. In her short time at UC Davis, Cliff has provided tremendous service to advance sustainability as a student leader and activist.
Alana Webre has been involved with many sustainability programs, initiatives, and activities. Alana's achievements made an impact in the sustainability achievements of UC Davis and the broader community.
- Learn more about Sydney Cliff
Previously a commissioner and now the chairperson, Sydney currently leads a team of 12 students with investigating and recommending student government policies and programs concerning campus-wide sustainability goals. In addition, she spearheaded the ASUCD Sustainability Audit (an annual audit that is a comprehensive review of the sustainable practices ASUCD operations have implemented), is the ASUCD ex-officio representative for The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), conducts fracking policy research and so much more.
Some of Sydney’s most impactful accomplishments have been related to the multiple ways she has engaged with the ASUCD Environmental Policy and Planning Commission.
Previously a Commissioner and now the Chairperson, Sydney currently leads a team of 12 students with investigating and recommending student government policies and programs concerning campus-wide sustainability goals. She confidently led the commission through the transition back to in-person classes, and has successfully contributed to the cultivation of an ongoing commitment to sustainability with ASUCD.
One of her major accomplishments as an ASUCD leader was to spearhead the ASUCD Sustainability Audit, an annual audit that is a comprehensive review of the sustainable practices ASUCD operations have implemented. The Audit encourages ASUCD operations to set goals to increase their sustainability and is linked closely with the Guidelines for Environmental Sustainability in the ASUCD Bylaws. This audit was completed by all ASUCD units, commissions, and committees, including Unitrans, the Pantry, the Bike Barn and the Coffee House.
Aside from EPPC, she is the ASUCD ex-officio representative for The Green Initiative Fund - or, “TGIF.” This is an integral source of funding for a diverse array of projects including environmental justice initiatives.
Further, she conducts fracking policy research with Dr. Gwen Arnold and is a Student Administrative Assistant for the National Center for Sustainable Transportation. She has also served as a member of the ASUCD Student Sustainability Career Fair Committee and was an intern in the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden's Learning by Leading program.
Sydney is deeply committed to intersectional environmentalism and environmental justice, and goes above and beyond to include a diverse range of students in sustainability work on campus.
As EPPC Chair, Sydney helped set the commission on a new trajectory towards environmental justice. While maintaining and improving internal processes through projects like the ASUCD Sustainability Audit, she has been an enduring supporter of the EPPC Environmental Justice Team. She created a space where students can advocate for their needs and work to change issues they see on campus.
- Learn more about Alana Webre
She is chair of the ASUCD Student Sustainability Career Fair Committee (SSCF), a Green Workplace coordinator and a member of the ASUCD Environmental Policy and Planning Commission.
In addition, she is also a UC Davis Center for Regional Change Bradshaw Scholar, a Fracking Policy Research Intern, a Planetary Health Ambassador with the UC Global Health Institute, and an Environmental Consulting Intern with Ascent Environment.
She is also a UC Davis Center for Regional Change Bradshaw Scholar, a Fracking Policy Research Intern, a Planetary Health Ambassador with the UC Global Health Institute, and an Environmental Consulting Intern with Ascent Environment.
Alana has undoubtedly made an impact in the sustainability achievements of UC Davis and the broader community.
As chair of the ASUCD Student Sustainability Career Fair Committee - or “SSCF” - Alana just last month led the execution of a highly successful career fair which exposed hundreds of students to resources and career opportunities with local conservation, environmental, and environmental justice organizations.
As a Green Workplace coordinator, she has been a pioneer in the UC Davis Green Workplace program, where she actively cultivated a campus culture of sustainability by guiding over 15 labs and workplaces at UC Davis through the Green Workplace sustainability certification process. This certification process leads to significant reductions in water and energy usage, carbon emissions, and waste.
Alana is the longest serving member of the ASUCD Environmental Policy and Planning Commission. She has also mentored and advised members of the EPPC community, and acted as a great resource and guide to her peers.
Her nominators share that - quote - “Alana’s kindness and welcoming attitude has undoubtedly encouraged many students to become involved in the sustainability community. [She] has an exceptional ability to make everyone feel welcome and heard.”
Joe Lestanguet serves as an inspector, planner and estimator for Facilities Management's Building Maintenance Services unit. His infectious enthusiasm for sustainability has advanced sustainability priorities and practices into his department.
- Learn more about Joe Lestanguet
From streamlining the recycling of building waste to exploring energy savings strategies, Joe always places sustainability at the forefront and cultivates collaborations that transcend his position.
Joe’s nominator shared that when they approached Joe to discuss the possibility of pursing a LEED certification on an existing building, they had no idea they were about to identify the biggest champion for sustainability within Facilities Management, Building Maintenance Services!
Joe has an infectious enthusiasm that allows Facilities Management the opportunity to propel sustainability priorities and practices into many areas of building maintenance.
Joe has spearheaded efforts to change processes to increase overall sustainability. From streamlining the recycling of building waste to exploring energy savings strategies, Joe always places sustainability at the forefront.
His work with partners in Facilities Management, including the Green Building Certification Team and the UC Davis Energy and Engineering Office, and across campus, has cultivated collaborations that transcend his position.
Joe’s efforts have saved the campus thousands of dollars each year and he has become a role model for other Inspector, Planning, and Estimate staff. Both leadership and peers have recognized his efforts, and he has become a defacto sustainability ambassador amongst his colleagues.
Joe’s nominator commends his enthusiasm for doing the right thing and his eagerness to improve the sustainability of new and ongoing operations, all while keeping clients satisfied. This is truly exceptional work a great role model for others to follow.
Stephen Wheeler has been a proud member of the UC Davis faculty since 2007. Stephen’s work is deeply interested in how many different planning and design strategies can work together to produce more sustainable communities.
Dr. Haven Kiers has made significant contributions to the UC Davis culture of sustainability. She has stewarded sustainable landscape management techniques on campus through innovative research, teaching, and service techniques that go above and beyond the expectations of her role.
- Learn more about Stephen Wheeler
Stephen has been an advocate for environmental stewardship and sustainability at UC Davis and nationally for decades.
Under Stephen’s leadership, the UCD Fossil Free group has circulated multiple petitions and met with campus leadership to ask for the development of a plan for our campus to go fossil-fuel free. As a direct result of the efforts led by Steve, and in the face of the undeniable reality of our climate emergency, the chancellor recently directed Camille Kirk and Jim Caroll to develop plans for our campus to do just that. Stephen teaches courses related to urban and regional planning, urban design, and sustainable development. He’s an internationally known scholar on sustainable urban planning and a subject-matter expert on this topic.
Steve’s many outstanding credentials as an environmental advocate include his authorship of four scholarly books. His is also the recipient of several awards, including the 2016 Eco-Hero award from Cool Davis for his work in promoting low-car, zero-net-energy infill development in Davis. He also earned the 2015 Academic Leadership Award from the California Climate and Agriculture Network for research and policy work that helped develop the State of California’s Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program.
He’s spoken out for many years about the urgent need for the UC Davis campus and community to do more to reduce our carbon footprint. Over the last few years, Steve has shepherded a group of faculty, students and staff who share grave concerns about the climate emergency to encourage the campus to accelerate the process of moving away from the use of fossil fuels to run core campus missions.
Steve’s role in coordinating campus community efforts have undoubtedly created a place for UC Davis students, staff, and faculty to channel their passion towards sustainability. His nominators thank and commend him for cultivating an environmental advocacy group where students, staff, and faculty all feel equally empowered and welcome to contribute.
Learn more about Dr. Haven Kiers
Results of her efforts include minimization of lawn usage on campus, planting of native and adaptative plant species, and the innovative use of sheep-mowers on campus lawns. Moreover, she donates much of her own personal time to long-term care of these landscapes. You can often find Professor Kiers weeding invasive plants or trouble-shooting a faulty irrigation bubbler, just out of a commitment to see a well-maintained, efficient and sustainable campus.
Haven joined UC Davis’s Department of Human Ecology in 2018. Haven's research investigates the intersection of ecology, human health, and aesthetics through projects that explore the environmental benefits, technological progress, and cultural acceptance of multifunctional landscapes, green infrastructure, and sustainable design.
Haven has demonstrated an admirable commitment to engaging the campus community in her efforts. While she employs these innovative, sustainable strategies to campus design and maintenance, she also uses a range of tools to bring awareness and interest to her efforts.
These include maintaining a very popular social media account on Instagram - @ucd_sheepmowers - and developing graphic media. She also plans such activities as hiking, sketching, and weeding to allow community members to engage with the efforts and learn to be stewards of our campus landscape.
Her nominator says they feel that one of the most compelling aspects of Haven's commitment to sustainability is her recognition of maintenance and labor as a critical component of ongoing and consistent sustainability. Instead of solely focusing on technological approaches toward sustainability improvement, Haven prioritizes engagement with maintenance and landscaping crews in her efforts. This brings awareness to and celebrating the role that the 'dirty work' plays in achieving sustainability
Our keynote speaker
Leah Thomas, eco-communicator, activist and founder of the organization Intersectional Environmentalist, was the keynote speaker for the 2022 Summit. Our campus's Climate Action fellows, Mariah Padilla and Aleesa Palmer interviewed Thomas about her perspectives on environmental justice, its intersection with aspects of cultural and racial identities, and her new book, The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet.
During the Q and A, Thomas discussed how she was inspired to write her book to bridge a gap in “101 level” knowledge about intersectional environmentalism and how she hopes the book helps cultivate a new generation of environmentalists who understand the importance of “protecting people and planet” as a foundation for their activism. She spoke on the promising shift in the wider environmentalism movement to acknowledge the importance of climate justice and how this has been mirrored at the federal government level. Thomas also shared how she battles eco-anxiety with climate optimism and encouraged young activists to get involved wherever they can, even if they’re worried they’re too young.