Thursday, December 8, 2016

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SDSU students write down a sustainability pledge during GreenFest 2011.

Student-Led Sustainability

SDSU is going greener than ever thanks to the vision of student leaders.
By Lorena Nava Ruggero

Call them visionaries. Call them treehuggers. Or just say they’re green.

No matter what term you use, there’s no denying that San Diego State’s students are helping lead the campus into a more sustainable future.

“Young people, especially the students of SDSU, have become engaged in courses that educate on every aspect of sustainability,” said Morgan Chan, Associated Students sustainability commissioner. “They understand that whatever their passions are, or whatever they want to do with their careers, sustainable practices take precedence.”

Living green

From transportation to buildings, Associated Students has helped lead the charge to go green on the Mesa through the work of the AS Green Love Sustainability Advisory Board.

“It is an amazing way to begin the search
for ways of life that make us
happier and reduce our impact on the planet.”

Zimride, a carpooling service, has helped Aztecs’ eliminate almost 1,000,000 miles since its introduction at SDSU in 2009. Associated Students also offers the car-sharing service, Zipcar, to students, faculty and staff. There’s also shared initiatives, like the university’s bike lane, which was initiated by students and made a reality by a coalition of students, faculty and staff.

Associated Students has also worked hard to upgrade the facilities it operates in a way that reflects their earth-friendly mindset, including solar photo-voltaic arrays at the  Mission Bay Aquatic CenterSDSU Children’s CenterAztec Aquaplex.

Lastly, Associated Students’ Aztec Student Union is poised to be the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum-certified student union in California, if not the country, when it opens in fall 2013. From its green roof to the underground rainwater tank, Aztec Student Union will serve as a campus model for energy efficiency, resource conservation and innovative design.

All of these changes complement those made by the university itself, including sustainable features in academic buildings to campus gardens featuring native plants and local food.

Teaching green

While April is considered Earth Month, Aztecs learn about preserving the planet year-round thanks to the efforts of other on-campus groups, including:

There’s also an academic major in sustainability, set to debut this fall.

GreenFest and the No Impact Project

As part of this year’s GreenFest festivities, Associated Students has partnered with the No Impact Project to educate students on ways to reduce their environmental impact in key areas.

“No Impact Week focuses on multiple aspects of sustainability that can be improved and controlled by each individual,” Chan said. “The experiment gives students the opportunity to learn about living sustainably, and gives them the support and guidance to take on the experiment themselves.”

The challenge is modeled after the yearlong experiment of Colin Beavan, who vowed to make as little environmental impact as possible for one year. Beavan is also the keynote speaker of this year’s GreenFest.

“I am humbled by the number of students taking part in No Impact Week,” Beavan said. “It is an amazing way to begin the search for ways of life that make us happier and reduce our impact on the planet.”

During the week of GreenFest, all members of the SDSU community will be able to participate in a wide variety of activities, including:

Celebrating green

The weeklong festivities are capped off by the GreenFest Festival on Saturday, April 28, in Parking Lots E and F.

With three stages of entertainment and a carnival, organizers have worked hard to make the festival a zero-waste event by banning waste from entering the festival and providing bins for food compost, recycling and biodegradable waste. Other festival features include:

  • A stage completely powered by the sun
  • Zero-waste concessions with vendors selling only finger foods, eliminating the need to use wasteful plastic utensils
  • A sponsored hydration station for guests, who are encouraged to bring their own refillable water bottles

Additionally, organizers have purchased carbon credits to offset the energy used to power the main stage and carnival rides.

“Students and AS staff have worked really hard to make this year's GreenFest Festival as green as possible,” said Mina Azim, Associated Students vice president of university affairs. “It's a great opportunity for Aztecs to celebrate sustainability and acknowledge how much more we need to do.”

Students can purchase tickets to the GreenFest Festival for $10 with a Red ID at the Viejas Arena Ticket Office; guest tickets (one per student with a Red ID) are available for $25. 

To learn more about GreenFest 2012, visit To learn more about Associated Students' sustainability efforts, visit