up in the on-campus housing community, TREO (Towers Residents' Environmental
Organization) began as a themed living community in the Towers at Centennial
Square, housing 58 residents interested in environmentally responsible
lifestyles. Spearheaded this academic year by Jim Bolinger, associate
director of residential property management, TREO immediately set out
to involve the entire University Housing community and resulted in HERO
(Housing Eco-Friendly Residents' Organization), a residence-wide project
to promote "green" lifestyles among students.
"When I say we hit the ground running, we really did," said
Aundrea Dominguez, assistant area coordinator for the Village at Centennial
Square and senior staff member for University Housing. Through an agreement
with Strategic Energy
Innovations (SEI), the group wasted no time garnering 5,200 compact
fluorescent lamps (CFLs) through the Sierra Club, donated by PG&E.
HERO organized an on-campus residential CFL-distribution program, encouraging
each resident to sign a pledge to replace two incandescent bulbs with
Although most of HERO is comprised of original TREO members, the collective
effort is growing. "We want to create a community of like-minded
individuals to work toward sustainability," said Keir Johnson, resident
assistant for TREO. "We're starting small, but hoping … to
attract more members so that we can execute these larger-scale programs.
That's our main focus: creating a buzz for ourselves."
After a few months of existence, HERO has started a community garden behind
Mary Park Lounge replete with cabbage, kale, radishes, artichokes, strawberries,
garden flowers and an assortment of kitchen herbs. The group also sent
a "green team" of 10 HERO volunteers to the San
Francisco Green Festival in early November, and HERO has proposed
a myriad of other projects to encourage eco-friendly awareness on campus:
a HERO Harvest Festival, recycling how-to stations, cleaner move-out procedures,
a "Bike Kitchen" to promote zero-carbon emissions transportation,
beach clean-up days and a campus-wide distribution of artistic, sculpture-esque
recycling bins made from found materials.
"People have a really confused idea about what you can and can't
recycle, what you can and can't compost," Dominguez said. "It's
alarming the difference between how much can actually be recycled and
how much trash you actually have left over."
Dominguez lives in the first "green" college student housing
unit in San Francisco, an on-campus apartment equipped with energy-efficient
appliances, furniture and carpet made from recycled materials and other
green-minded features. The "Green Apartment," open since March
2007, is one of the University's many sustainability initiatives, including
$1,057,177 in grants and incentives from PG&E; composting of food
waste from the student dining center; and a pilot recycling program with
a 75 percent diversion rate.
With approximately 2,500 students in formal university housing, Bolinger
hopes to involve at least 10 percent of on-campus residents in eco-friendly
HERO activities. "We want the residents to take this with them,"
Bolinger said. "This is a foundation for life: to learn how to be
--Student writer Lisa Rau with Ellen