November 12, 2012

Students on Cross-Country Bus Tour Bring Sustainable Design to Schools

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After leading sustainability outreach projects at six K-12 schools across the country, eight members of Cornell University Sustainable Design will end their nine-day cross-country bus trip in San Francisco, C.A., on Wednesday.

Their journey, part of the first-ever Students@Greenbuild Bus Tour, is being conducted in collaboration with the “Green Apple” Initiative, a program run through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools, which seeks to encourage sustainable practices at schools across the country.

The tour, which took students across the country from Ithaca to San Francisco in an 100 percent carbon-offset bus, will end at USGBC’s annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo on Wednesday. USGBC is a national non-profit committed to sustainable building design and construction, and perhaps most notably, the creator of the LEED certification system.

The Cornell students on the tour have been joined along the way by students from Penn State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Kirkwood Community College, Colorado State University, University of Utah and Weber State University.

Leaders of CUSD — a student organization dedicated to sustainable design — said they first decided to plan the tour after meeting with USGBC founder Rick Fedrizzi in April.

Fedrezzi was “inspired and enthused by CUSD’s current and built work” — which include design projects in South Africa and Nicaragua — and called the group’s student leaders a few weeks later with an “irresistible proposal” to launch the bus tour, CUSD President Jesse McElwain ’13 said.

Students who participated in the tour said they hoped to engage with other college students interested in sustainability, as well as to impart wisdom to younger students.

“The bus tour is an opportunity for CUSD to expand its mission of structuring higher education around a common need for sustainability,” said Jeremy Blum grad, a student currently on the tour. “By working closely with like-minded students around the country, CUSD has the unique opportunity to spread its mission and to learn from others who have similar goals.”

Katie Mayer ’15, another student on the trip, said she also recognized the tour as a valuable networking opportunity.

“The opportunity to travel and teach others about sustainability is obviously inspiring, but what this trip also provides is a network,” she said.

Mayer added that she has been encouraged by the reception of the tour thus far.

“As we make these stops and meet so many new people who are as passionate about sustainability and the built environment as the members of CUSD are, there is a growing sense of enthusiasm and support for our ideas, which often have existed as mere dreams,” Mayer said. “I believe this will overflow upon our arrival at Greenbuild, where we will be surrounded by professionals, academics and fellow students on an international level who are presently putting our dreams into action throughout the world.”

Blum said the group ultimately hopes to empower the next generation to think more about sustainability challenges and the impact of climate change.

“While legislators ignore the climate crisis, we, as students, are empowering a younger generation of students to learn about the complex issues surrounding climate change and environmental stewardship — encouraging them to make an impact on their own schools,” he said.

Original Author: Carolyn Krupski