CUSD gets on the bus

January 16, 2013

For two weeks in November, a group of eight Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD) leaders traveled across the country on a bus; not a Greyhound or Volkswagen, but a custom-wrapped, 100 percent carbon offset vehicle promoting student involvement with Greenbuild 2012, the world’s largest sustainable design expo and conference.

The Students@Greenbuild tour was the culmination of months of work that began last April, when Rick Fedrizzi, president and founder of the U.S. Green Building Council, spoke at Cornell about the importance of sustainability in the built environment. After spending some time with a group of CUSD students, Fedrizzi extended an invitation to attend Greenbuild 2012, scheduled for November in San Francisco. Several weeks later, Fedrizzi contacted CUSD again; this time with the idea of participating in a cross-country bus tour with the goal of creating healthier, more sustainable schools and campuses.

“Fedrizzi was really impressed with our enthusiasm and unique interdisciplinary approach,” says Karen Chi-Chi Lin (B.Arch. ’13), one of the leaders of the Greenbuild team. “He thought we were the ideal group to tackle this type of project.”

The CUSD team, partnering with the Center for Green Schools, the U.S. Green Building Council, as well as several other colleges and universities across the country, was involved in all aspects of planning and executing the tour. Lin and Kai Keane ’14 designed the Students@Greenbuild logo; Lin and Jesse McElwain ’13 drafted press releases; and Keane created the bus wrapper and a series of videos documenting the trip.

The tour kicked off in Ithaca on November 5, with activities organized by CUSD, including tours of the university’s lake source cooling plant for students from Lansing High School, and remarks from Fedrizzi. The group then traveled across the country picking up students from other participating universities, and hosting educational outreach events at elementary, middle, and high schools about all aspects of sustainable design, including water conservation, jobs in the “green” industry, and resource management.

“Students are working on one of the most visible youth-driven projects to promote healthy, sustainable schools our nation has ever seen,” says Fedrizzi. Once at the conference, a video of the tour produced by Keane was presented at the opening session

“The video was shown immediately after Edwin M. Lee, the mayor of San Francisco, spoke,” says Lin. “Forty thousand people saw it!” CUSD students who participated in the bus tour project include Jeremy Blum ’13, Aylin Gucalp ’14, Keane, Jared Landsman ’14, Tim Lenardo ’14, Sarah Levine ’14, Lin, Katie Mayer ’14, McElwain, Rachel Silverman ’14, and Princess Swan ’15. They were joined by students from Penn State, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champagne, Kirkwood Community College, Colorado State University, University of Utah, and Weber State University.

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