What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability, to me, is the ability to continually improve quality of life while minimizing society’s impact on the environment. It is the ability to do more with less energy and resources so that future generations and other inhabitants of this planet may enjoy those amenities. Sustainability is, and must be, not only the possibility for future generations to live successful lives, but also better lives. Essentially, sustainability must meet the criteria of living harmoniously with the environment, improved economic conditions, and a better quality of life for all.
What are you doing to help UB become more sustainable?
This summer, I have been working as an intern in UB’s Office of Sustainability. Here, it has been my responsibility to help roll out and engage students in the new Sustainability Dashboard, our accessible application for analyzing real-time energy usage data of UB’s buildings. Starting this Fall, I will also be serving as President of UB Environment Network and the Student Association’s Environmental Affairs Director. In these capacities, I will be hosting events, creating awareness, and catalyzing change to further campus sustainability.
How do you involve UB’s Faculty and Staff in your Sustainability Work?
As Sustainability Intern, I have coordinated with various departments and associated professionals to integrate the Sustainability Dashboard into campus activities and events. Further, in the future, I aim to coordinate with many professionals on campus to make sustainability a true campus priority.
How has sustainability impacted your academic pursuits?
Sustainability has been the defining organizing principle of my undergraduate experience. I have crafted all of my internships, research experience, and curriculum around sustainability. My ultimate aspiration is to become a sustainability consultant. As such, I have sought dual degrees in economics and environmental geosciences to develop my skills in environmental science, sustainability, and economic analysis.
What is the one thing you would like people to know that you do in your personal life to further sustainability?
I don’t think I can really select one thing. Much like my academic career, I have opted to choose to live sustainably as much as possible. Some of my favorite changes include buying organic, fair trade, and local, cutting out a majority of my meat consumption to lower GHG emissions, using reusable mugs and bottle for drinks, and buying recycled paper and other sustainable products when available. I also tend to hound friends and family about recycling and opt to buy sustainable and organic gifts for them when possible. Eventually they’ll catch on!
How could UB improve its sustainability efforts?
UB has done a great job so far with commitments to be carbon neutral, opting for LEED certified buildings, and other campus sustainability initiatives. Insofar as improvement, there could be more student exposure to sustainability. Every student should be exposed to sustainability as a general education requirement. Another area would be to simply continue work in minimizing the impact of UB’s operations including better management of lights when not in use, more recycling bins in more areas, increased use of renewables, and more focus on resource and energy reduction.