For many environmentalists, Earth Week each April is one of the best weeks of the year. Of course, we always wish that we had more than just one week a year to celebrate environmentalism and to specifically promote sustainability to those around us. As a bit of a solution to this problem, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been celebrating a Campus Sustainability Week each October for the past several years. Sustainability Week gives us the chance to market and celebrate the many advancements this campus has made to reduce our environmental impact and protect our future on this planet.
The Sustainability Week is put together and sponsored by the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and the Environment (iSEE), and the SSC traditionally contributes by putting on a few events of our own. This year, the SSC put on a tour of the campus’ energy farm, and hosted a screening of Al Gore’s second environmental documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel. During the tour, attendees had the opportunity to view our new Biomass Boiler, the Solar Decathlon House, and the geothermal energy test site. Meanwhile, before viewing the documentary, we had the special opportunity to view a live webcast of Al Gore himself answering questions concerning climate change from college students around the nation. The film itself, though it certainly made clear how dire our situation is, was also uplifting as Gore is confident that we are in a place globally where we our set to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Finally, the SSC also participated in the second annual Campus Sustainability Celebration. Hosted at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, the celebration featured tables from environmental and sustainability groups across campus, amazing vegetarian snacks and cake, and an awards ceremony for iSEE’s Certified Green Offices and Facilities & Services’ Energy Conservation Incentive Program winners. While there is of course much work to do yet to make campus greener and more sustainable, the Sustainability Celebration was an excellent way to honor how far we have already come and to get motivated for the future.