Last March the sixth United Nations Global Environment Outlook was released, painting a dire picture of a planet in peril and concluding that “unsustainable human activities globally have degraded the Earth’s ecosystems, endangering the ecological foundations of society.”
But the outlook also offers ideas for changing the way the world eats, buys things, generates energy and handles waste to help fix the problems.
Bellevue College’s Office of Sustainability took note of those ideas—and ran with them. Using the U.N. framework for inspiration, the college offered some 38 panels, presentations and workshops on the Bellevue College campus during its annual Earth Week Celebration held April 22-26. The theme? Game On: Bellevue College Addresses the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
“Some people might think it’s ‘game over’ when it comes to climate change,” said Amber Nicholson, BC director of sustainability. “But really it’s time to get our game on. And the more you can think about your choices and how they might have an environmental or social impact down the road, the better. So this year we focused on educating our community about those choices.”
Each day offered a variety of speakers, workshops and events. Highlights included electric bike demos, free bike tuneups, a farmers market, a green cleaning workshop and a garden party to learn about rain gardens and invasive species. Students also went on a field trip to 21 Acres in Woodinville to learn about sustainable agriculture, cooking with locally grown and organic products, and get a tour of their LEED® certified building.
Throughout the week the college offered an electronics waste recycling bin that was open to the public to safely and responsibly recycle personal electronics. And on Friday there was a Fix-It Fair, where attendees were able to get nearly anything fixed by volunteers, from clothes to small appliances and furniture.
“There’s always something you can do,” Nicholson added. “For example, there’s been big interest across the country in reducing single use plastics lately. While it may not seem that important to opt out of that plastic bag at the grocery store, or not grab a straw at the coffee shop, little actions build upon each other and turn into movements that we can all join in.”
Since the first Bellevue College Earth Week in 2000, the college has adopted a series of measures that have made the campus much more sustainable. Some of these initiatives include:
- the installation of several electric vehicle charging stations, including a DC fast charger, one of the first on a U.S. college campus;
- projects to upgrade campus lighting, water, and HVAC systems to substantially reduce energy consumption, incorporating geothermal heating and solar power;
- programs to encourage alternate means of transport, including a ride-match website to facilitate carpooling and a quarterly bicycle rental program for students, faculty and staff;
- the integration of sustainability throughout the instructional curriculum combined with a student-created sustainability fund.
The Office of Sustainability also works to ensure new buildings on campus use LEED® building standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). BC’s new Student Housing facility is a LEED® candidate project for Platinum certification, and the Student Success center is a LEED® candidate project for Silver certification.
Last Updated May 15, 2019