SDSU Associated Students wins sustainability leadership award

Associated Students was the recipient of the 2023 Leadership Legend Award from the San Diego Green Building Council.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Members of SDSU Associated Students are photographed with the Leadership Legend award from the San Diego Green Building Council.
Antonella Giorgi, Katarina Hernandez and Charlotte Roberts with the Leadership Legend award from the San Diego Green Building Council. (Olivia Li/SDSU)

Associated Students (A.S.) was the 2023 winner of San Diego Green Building Council’s (SDGBC) Leadership Legend Award, reflecting a longstanding commitment to sustainability while activating emerging leaders.

“I believe our sustainability leadership has the potential to inspire other universities, local and national businesses, individuals and nonprofits,” said Charlotte Roberts, A.S. Sustainability Coordinator. “Winning this award is encouragement that we are in fact spreading ideas and raising the bar for the community beyond SDSU, which only further serves the environment and people across the globe.”

A.S. is the inaugural winner of the Leadership Legend award, created to “showcase exceptional leadership in the green buildings realm and [steer] the community towards a sustainable future.”

Building Green

Under A.S. are four LEED Platinum and four LEED Gold Certified facilities, including the LEED Double Platinum facility: the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a third-party certification from The U.S. Green Building Council for environmentally friendly buildings and the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Double LEED Platinum is the highest symbol of sustainability achievement, a title held by only 200 buildings in the world, according to the agency.

Across all A.S. facilities, almost two megawatts of onsite solar power offsets over 50% of the facilities’ electricity consumption. In the Student Union, hot and cold water is piped into the floor, a more sustainable option to traditional heating and cooling systems at a tenth of the cost. The facility also captures all rooftop rainwater to irrigate drought-tolerant landscaping, reducing the building's potable water consumption.

The Aztec Recreation Center, expanded and renovated in a project completed in 2022, was a key facility in A.S. receiving their award. The building is LEED Platinum and fossil-fuel free, and in the application process for a LEED Double Platinum certification.

Students Leading the Charge

At the forefront of all of A.S.’s decisions is the student voice and leading the charge is the A.S. Green Love Commission, a group of student volunteers who lead campuswide sustainability efforts. Through promoting and creating sustainable events, educating others on the importance of a more sustainable future and advocating for sustainable action locally and globally, Green Love leads by example.

“Green Love's initiatives and goals change every year because environmentalism has so many different aspects, and different student leaders hold different passions,” said Green Love Representative Katarina Hernandez. “In Green Love, we are always including our general body members and community members in decisions that we make and finding inclusive solutions.”

A.S. conducts GreenFest, a week-long initiative celebrating sustainability, diversity and pride. Students are involved in every step of the decision-making process, from choosing the year’s theme to the sustainable promotional items distributed. Green Love also hosts a bi-annual Swap Shop for SDSU community members to swap their gently-used clothing. At the most recent Swap Shop, over 1,200 items were exchanged.

“A.S. really cares about sustainability and gives the space for sustainability initiatives, but most importantly, supports the inclusion of different backgrounds and trusts their student leaders,” said Green Love Commissioner Antonella Giorgi. “As an international student, I have a lot to share about coming from another country that doesn't have as many advantages and sustainable development like the U.S. Once I graduate, I feel super excited to apply my knowledge and skills from Green Love to work with students because our voice matters and we have so much power.” 

The Future

In 2023, A.S. raised more than $50,000 for SDSU's first ESG (environmental, social and governance)-invested scholarship endowment, the Glen Brandenburg Sustainability Scholarship, rewarding students for outstanding leadership in sustainability.

A.S. is continuing to integrate sustainability into organizational areas beyond building systems to ensure sustainability remains a cornerstone of its ethos. Through transitioning apparel purchases to organic cotton and recycled polyester, developing an e-waste recycling program for students and educating the SDSU community on alternative transportation, A.S. seeks to inspire other organizations to follow suit.

“I'm most proud of how our students never lose motivation to mitigate climate change and environmental injustice — even when it gets hard or daunting,” Roberts said. “Our student leaders are incredibly clever and resilient.”

Categorized As