In spite of the pandemic and closed campuses, the Sustainable Environment Institute has taken some big steps forward in 2021.
Since February we have been meeting biweekly with the Vice Chancellor for Facilities, Dr. Rueben Smith, and Bharat Patel from BuilLACCD. We focus on ways we can work together to promote the environmental education of our students and to implement the district’s Clean Energy and Sustainability Plan. The ambitious primary goals set by the Board of Trustees in July, 2020—to be 100% carbon free by 2040 (and 100% renewable electricity by 2030)—will require coordinated efforts at the campus level. Sustainability committees including representatives from all key stakeholders need to be established and empowered to coordinate energy and water conservation, and waste reduction, et al. Faculty will have to increase curriculum opportunities for students. The SEI will do all it can to advance that work.
As part of our meetings, we’ve also arranged to have key faculty from district Architecture and Engineering departments join our meetings with Dr. Smith and Patel, as there are a number of particular ways in which they can work together. The second meeting was on October 1, and several faculty participated. Internships, mentorhsips, an Industry Day to help students looking for work, and visits to work sites were some ideas discussed. We will meet with them again in November.
Another major SEI innovation this year was the debut of a five-part lecture series on climate and environmental issues, with a special focus on how they relate to our city and state. George Leddy, Director of SEI, has presented three so far. The first looked at California water issues, the second at the climate emergency, and the most recent looked at efforts to transform the “built environment” and to make Los Angeles a truly sustainable city. On Oct. 21, Dr. Leddy will address biodiversity loss and on Nov. 18 fires in California. Attendance has been strong, and there’s been time for some good discussions. Recordings are available at sei.laccd.net. The series is sponsored by the DAS’s Professional Development Committe, and flex credit is available, of course.
The SEI has also been working with faculty on the LAUSD Climate Committee to get fundamental climate eduction into the K-12 curriculum. A committee has drafted a resolution to put before the Board of the LAUSD to fund and support a new climate curriculum. While the process is a bit labyrinthian, the committee has already established itself on partner Climate Reality Project website, and it’s finalizing a draft resolution this month. Please visit the site and support climate education in K-12 by signing the online petition.
Additionally, some SEI Steering Committee members are working this fall with the USGBC-LA, getting trained to provide lectures to students in the LAUSD on climate and sustainability. The USGBC calls it their “Green Schools” program, and it aims to provide material appropriate for each grade level. Yes, there is one for elementary school kids. You can join the Green Schools Committee online at the USGBC-LA website.
Finally, we’re happy to report that the Chancellor and the DAS have worked together to increase our faculty reassigned time from .2 to 1.0. This will allow us to dramatically increase our work. Dr. Leddy has been working at .4 since July, and we hope to have a co-director come on-board at .6 by February.
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--David Beaulieu and George Leddy, editors
Busy SEI Working Closely with Facilities
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