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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 12 | August 9, 2001

Students' efforts make for two-way learning experience

Eighteen learn as they earn while moving the university forward in achieving its goals for a sustainable campus

by Don Wells staff writer

A new program launched by Land and Building Services is helping the university to make great strides in its efforts to promote both sustainability and experiential learning.

Initiatives in the Student Training and Employment Program, or TREK STEP, are designed to provide meaningful employment and mentoring opportunities.

Two initiatives were implemented in April and currently employ 18 students. Four students are working as student sustainability co-ordinators within a program supported by funding from BC Hydro.

The student sustainability coordinators are helping faculty and staff in various departments to set up recycling bins, promote energy conservation, and recruit volunteer sustainability coordinators

In addition, they are working with the undergraduate student societies and custodial staff to raise awareness of the need for energy conservation and encourage them to implement their own initiatives to reduce consumption.

Another 14 students are working on Transportation Demand Management, an initiative to support UBC's Strategic Transportation Plan to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips to the campus by 20 per cent.

They co-ordinate campus and community outreach, on- and off-campus shuttle systems, incentive programs for car-poolers and transit users, bicycle facilities and bike carts, and transportation demand audits.

"This kind of work is changing the way students think," says Sean Pander, Campus Sustainability Office liaison officer. "Not only does it help them understand that change is possible, it also expands the scope of their vision about what can be achieved."

Most of the students are working on a full-time basis throughout the summer, and will switch to a part-time schedule in the fall to
effectively execute their strategies.

"This job has totally inspired me," says Arts student Sarah Mackenzie, an avid cyclist working in the transportation demand group. "I would like to pursue a career in urban transportation and planning, especially one that enables me to continue educating others about the importance of transportation issues in sustainable development."

All TREK STEP students are being given opportunities to develop technical, marketing and communications skills. Examples include formal and informal presentations, organizing special events, fieldwork, as well as program development and implementation.

Other TREK STEP programs being planned include community building and community service initiatives, litter control, fundraising, communications and marketing, and workplace ergonomics and wellness.

Steps toward sustainability at UBC during the 2000-01 fiscal year:

* Paper towel usage decreased eight per cent

* Copy paper usage decreased eight per cent (nearly eight million fewer sheets)

* Use of non-disposable mugs increased 150 per cent at food outlets

* UBC's ride-share database for carpools had more participants than all other universities in Canada combined

* During the quarter following the sustainability coordinators focus on electricity, usage decreased seven per cent

More information



Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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