Green Leadership Summit Details Sustainability Efforts, Draws Influential Crowd

City, university and utility provider sign agreement to seal partnership for future and sustainability

Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox and Mayor Rusty Bailey, after signing the collaborative agreement at the Green Leadership Summit.

Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox and Mayor Rusty Bailey, after signing the collaborative agreement at the Green Leadership Summit.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A vision of a greener future was on display at the UC Riverside Alumni and Visitor Center last week as the university, the City of Riverside and Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) partnered to host the second Green Leadership Summit on Feb. 26, 2014.

The more than 80 guests in attendance saw presentations and displays of Riverside’s current sustainability practices, methods of motivating recent UCR students to stay and work locally following graduation, current sustainability successes at UCR and RPU, and ways to improve green practices throughout the region. In attendance were representatives from UCR, RPU, the city of Riverside, and local businesses and non-profits. Dignitaries included UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, RPU Assistant General Manager Michael Bacich, former mayor and current UCR professor Ron Loveridge, UCR Director of Sustainability John Cook and UCR Director of CE-CERT Matt Barth.

Speakers from UCR discussed the university’s commitment to sustainability. Wilcox discussed future goals for the campus, which included the reduction of use of potable (drinking-quality) water for campus operations, increased application of UCR research in areas of global warming, air quality, agriculture, plant biology, solar energy and transportation and the achievement of climate neutrality, where the campus would have no net-climate-impact from carbon or other greenhouse gases, by 2025.

At the event’s conclusion, Wilcox and Bailey signed a collaborative agreement to work together to ensure sustainability for the current and future residents of Riverside. The agreement provides for two-to-four paid internships for UCR undergraduate and graduate students to assist the city on sustainability projects. These internships will aid the city in further advancing sustainability while providing encouragement for students to stay in Riverside after graduation.

“As a member of the UCR community, it’s hard not to feel proud of all that we have accomplished as a university and as a community. But, it’s also very humbling to think of the work that still needs to be done,” Wilcox said.

Mayor Rusty Bailey showed support for efforts to date and promised support for sustainability projects moving forward. “We’re continuing the momentum of previous generations and mayors with the mission of sustainability. I’m proud to carry the torch and take a step forward to continue our work. We’re in growth mode and we need to do things the right way.”

The signed agreement drew significant praise from attendees.

“If the saying is true, that it takes a village to raise a child, then it is also true that it takes a university to allow that child to flourish,” Cook said. “This partnership allows UCR to utilize its research to better help the community. That’s the beauty of partnership and it is a situation very unique to UCR. No other UC has this kind of relationship with their city.”

Echoing Cook’s hopefulness, Barth said he hopes that the collaboration will allow UCR to become an even greater asset to the city and the community.

Bailey also mentioned the CoolCalifornia City Challenge as a resource for individuals who want to make a difference in sustainability now. The challenge, whose sponsors include Energy Upgrade California and the University of California Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, encourages residents to reduce their carbon footprints, and earn prize money to help support sustainability program development.

For more information about the city’s green initiatives, visit greenriverside.com.

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