Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone seeking greener future

By Allison Sundaram, Staff Writer.

Sunday, December 24, 2006—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—George Rodgers wants to promote recycling, reduce energy usage and switch the Ohlone College cars to alternative-fuel vehicles.

Rodgers, who was appointed sustainability coordinator for Ohlone by college President Doug Treadway the first week of December, will chair a committee for promoting sustainability at Ohlone, develop environmental programs, and apply for grants to fund a planned Sustainability Institute on the under-construction Newark campus.

Sustainability is a concept of reducing human impact on the planet to maintain it for future generations.

Rodgers said he also wants "sustainability across the curriculum" by developing an environmental studies program. "It's based on sustainable, ecological and environmental progress," Rodgers said. "We're in the process of putting it together."

Ohlone now offers some classes for the program, such as human ecology.

The committee does not have funding to implement any programs or develop the Sustainability Institute. However, Rodgers plans to apply for grants and find donations. He also wants to make money for the campus by instituting a recycling program.

"We can sell the recycling and use the money for scholarships," Rodgers said.

Treadway said Rodgers was chosen because he has an "exhaustive background in sustainability and earth sciences, and worked a lot with the city of Fremont."

Rodgers previously had worked in environmental management and emergency preparedness for AT&T and Pacific Bell, among other jobs. He wasresponsible for the environmental regulatory, hazardous material, and underground fuel tank programs for the phone companies.

After he left Pacific Bell, he was a hazardous materials specialist for Alameda County.

He studied hazardous materials management at the University of California, Davis, and has a master's degree in environmental management from the University of San Francisco.

At Ohlone he teaches geology, geography and anthropology.

The appointment follows a commitment to creating a Sustainability Institute at Ohlone, made in August by Treadway in his State of the College address. In his speech, Treadway warned of dire consequences for the planet unless more is done to prevent global warming and to be ecologically sensitive.

Ohlone already is making a significant commitment with the construction of a sustainable building on the Newark campus, Rodgers said.

"As that campus gets closer to opening up, we're trying to become an award-winning building. We're using things that have never been used before," he said.

Some of the new techniques are open, energy-efficient designs and solar panels that will promote ecological responsibility, Rodgers said.

The panels would be the largest solar power collection system in the Silicon Valley area and would produce enough power so the college could sell excess back to PG&E, Rodgers said. The panels are expected to produce 30 percent of the energy used by the building, according to the Ohlone College Web site.

Sustainability at Ohlone is "part of activities across the country," Treadway said. The hope is that at least 300 colleges, including Ohlone, will sign an agreement in June to reduce greenhouse gases and adopt Earth-friendly practices such as recycling, Treadway said.

Ohlone is a member of the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, joining universities such as Stanford, Duke, Princeton and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Davis.

Rodgers said his committee is examining sustainability plans at several other schools to chart the course for Ohlone. He cited a comprehensive program established at St. Mary's College that promotes car pooling, reducing ecological impact and "greening" dorm rooms among students.

As for the hybrid cars, they may not be a reality just yet, but Rodgers said he is committed not just to finding green alternatives, but to finding the best ones. So hybrids may be out, but hydrogen may be in, depending on the best value and ecological benefit, he said.

Although sustainability is a major part of Rodgers' lifestyle, he also sees it as a business opportunity for Ohlone.

"In the long run, we'll save money," Rodgers said. "We may pay costs upfront, but down the road we'll save."

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