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UC Berkeley students deliver a lesson in zero waste with TRUE

Published on: 
17 Jan 2019
Kim Girard

The article from which this excerpt is taken was originally published by Kim Girard on Jan. 11 as "Chou Hall certified as country’s greenest academic building," on the website of the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business. Read the full article.

Chou Hall is one of the country’s greenest academic buildings, having earned TRUE Zero Waste certification at the highest possible level along with LEED Platinum certification for its energy-efficient design and operation.

The Chou Hall Zero Waste Initiative is a joint effort led by a multidisciplinary team of graduate and undergraduate students working closely with Cal Zero Waste, Haas faculty and staff, facilities management and building vendors to ensure that building operations are designed for successful waste diversion.

TRUE Advisor Jessica Heiges, the Chou Hall Zero Waste Initiative student lead and a candidate for the Master’s of Development Practice program at the College of Natural Resources, called the certification “a wonderful confirmation that the enormous amount of hours that the community devoted toward the effort was finally validated.”

The zero waste certification process began as soon as Connie and Kevin Chou Hall opened to students in August 2017. In August 2018, Haas participated in its third weeklong TRUE Zero Waste audit. Waste audits are a messy, hands-on endeavor that requires separating compostable items like soiled paper towels and paper cups from recyclable cans and bottles. The audits are a required component to better understand the waste flow and provide a benchmark for improvement.

The team used audit data to make more zero waste adjustments and recommendations, including

  • Working with Café Think and the evening and weekend MBA program to change student snack offerings to bulk items.
  • Implementing a program to donate Café Think’s coffee grounds to UC Berkeley’s Gill Tract Farm for garden compost.
  • Replacing the bathrooms’ one-roll toilet paper dispensers with two-roll dispensers to conserve toilet paper.

TRUE Advisor Danner Doud-Martin, the staff lead of the Haas Zero Waste Initiative and associate director of the International Business Development (IBD) Program at Haas, said the next phase will be to encourage a shift from recycling and composting toward reusing or reducing single-use items such as “to-go” containers and coffee cups. One recent example is a pilot with Café Think, which allowed customers to put down a $1 deposit for a mason jar of overnight oats and yogurt that can be refilled at the cafe.

Read the full article