NCSU Hosts AASHE Conference

By: Mande Swisher, University Sustainability Office

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference was held in downtown Raleigh at the new Raleigh Convention Center and NC State University was one of four host institutions for the event. ┬áThe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), Duke University and Appalachian State University were the other host schools. ┬áThe conference provides a “unique opportunity for every sector of higher education in the United States & Canada to come together to demonstrate how colleges and universities can lead the way to a sustainable future,” states AASHE’s web site (http://aashe.org/conf2008/).

AASHE 2008 had over 1,750 attendees from over 400 colleges and universities in 48 states and 15 countries.  The conference was the largest gathering focused on campus sustainability to date in North America and tripled in size from 2006.   The conference was jammed packed with concurrent sessions and over 300 presenters.  Among the presenters were several from the NC State community: Jack Colby, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities Operations and Sustainability Officer;  Tracy Dixon Sustainability Director;  Julie Grossman, Soil Science Assistant Professor; Lucy Lafitt, Forestry Doctoral Candidate; Barry Olson, Associate Director of University Housing; Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, Crop Science Assistant Professor and William Winner, Professor, Forestry and Environmental Resources and Coordinator of Environmental Science and Natural Resource Programs.

As part of the conference, Sustainable North Carolina and AASHE partnered to present the Sustainable Solutions Expo: Green Solutions for Campuses Businesses and Institutions.  The Expo had over 120 exhibitors that showcased products, services, and technology at the conference, as well as, a group of keynote speakers.  NC State, UNC, and Duke offered campus tours to give the attendees a way to see current sustainability projects going on at the colleges in the area.

AASHE 2008 was also a way for students, faculty, and industry leaders to network in the sustainablity field. The NC State Sustainability Office had great success with large numbers of educators and business leaders visiting our booth in the exhibit hall.  The staffing for the booth was supported by the Transportation Office, the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling, the NC Solar Center, Environmental Health and Safety and several students who donated their time to help spread the word about sustainable activities on campus.  Our Provost even got involved on opening day with opening remarks made during an especially boisterous cocktail crowd.