Sustainability advocates honored at NC State’s Green Brick Awards

2016 Green Brick Award recipients from left: staff member Jessica Thomas, faculty member Dr. Bob Patterson, Dr. Michelle Shroeder-Moreno of the Agroecology Education Farm, Carlo Zanelli of the NC State Stewards, student recipient Annie Lopez, and NC State Stewards Nick Loschin and Amelia Fujikawa.

Three members of the NC State community, a student organization and a campus farm were honored with Green Brick Awards from the Campus Environmental Sustainability Team and Sustainability Council on April 15 for outstanding contributions to sustainability.

Sponsored by Coca-Cola, the Green Brick Awards have recognized sustainability achievements at NC State since 2004. Each spring nominations are received from the campus community and a selection committee determines a winner in the following categories: Student, Faculty Member, Staff Member, Innovation/Impact and Campus Department or Student Organization.

Biological and agricultural engineering student Annie Lopez is the student recipient. A Park Scholar and an NC State Steward, Annie has been the driving force behind the Stewards’ efforts to remove plastic bags from campus. She lived in the campus EcoVillage living and learning community, has served on a sustainability-related Alternative Spring Break, helped start the Student Sustainability Resource Coalition and she has spent the past two years conducting stormwater filtration research.

“Annie wants to make NC State greener and also wants to change campus culture, never missing an opportunity to educate students and challenge instructors to consider more sustainable options,” said student Andrew Harrell.

This year’s staff winner is Jessica Thomas, the founding director of the Poole College of Management’s Business Sustainability Collaborative. Thomas has infused sustainability into the foundation of Poole College’s research, academics, student programs and culture. She revived the undergraduate and graduate Net Impact chapters, which have now received gold status at the national level. Last fall, Jessica created the B Corp Clinic that matches students from NC State, Duke and UNC as consultants for local companies pursuing B-Corp sustainability certification.

“She is a driving force in incorporating a sustainable business education at NC State,” said student Padmaja Soundararajan.

This year’s faculty winner is Dr. Bob Patterson, the Alumni Distinguished Professor of Crop Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Beyond his research on the sustainability of global food systems, Patterson has exposed students to sustainability through courses such as World Population and Food Prospects and Global Sustainable Human Development.

“He challenges students to examine their own lives and asks them to think critically about what they can do to make a difference,” said staff member Dr. Stephany Dunstan. “All of his professional societies, appointments held, and courses taught exemplify his commitment to improving the current global ecological decline.”

This year’s campus organization winner is the NC State Agroecology Education Farm. Dedicated in 2006 as part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the farm is where many students and community members learn the principles of agroecology. Since 2013, University Dining has purchased the farm’s produce to serve in campus dining halls. With the addition of a new season-extending hoop house, the farm will be able to provide even more produce for campus dining halls.

This year’s innovation and impact winner is the Waste Reduction Committee of the NC State Stewards student organization. This committee of about half a dozen students has been working for more than two years to phase out the use of retail plastic bags on campus. In partnership with Campus Enterprises, the students started the university’s first plastic bag recycling program in campus C-Stores in 2014 and most recently led the switch from plastic bags to more sustainable paper bags in the Atrium dining facility and C-Stores.