On Wednesday, UCSB Sustainability held its third annual Central Coast Sustainability Summit from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Corwin Pavilion.

The event brought together various UCSB officials with government representatives from the City of Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria, as well as representatives from business and non-profits from Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Lompoc, Richmond and MarinCounty. Throughout the day, speakers presented on a number of topics focusing on economic development, product stewardship, renewable energy and cross-agency volunteer management.

Keynote Speaker Jamie Tuckey, Director of Communications for the Marin Energy Authority, addressed Community Choice Aggregation, a system currently implemented in MarinCounty which brings individual buyers together to secure alternative energy supply contracts.

According to Katie Maynard, Event Manager and Sustainability Coordinator, the summit was particularly successful this year because of the additional dialogue concerning the Community Choice Aggregation.

“I think it was a tremendous success,” Maynard said. “There was enough buy-in from stakeholders for the Community Choice Aggregation project, that we can start thinking about the details and how that is going to look at the end of the project.”

During her presentation, Danielle Kemp, dining services dietitian with UCSB Residential Dining Services, discussed efforts of Dining Services to shift to more sustainable food purchasing, putting locally grown food — which must be grown within a 150-mile radius — into UCSB’s four dining commons. Kemp pointed out that one of the major challenges in making the transition was ensuring student acceptance of unconventional produce, as she referred to the tendency for organic produce to occasionally have minor cosmetic deformities and lack uniform size.

“In order to address this, there was a lot of educational outreach to inform our students. We do believe that students have adapted to the change. More and more, students want to know where their food is coming from,” Kemp said in an email.

Assistant Director of Catering and Concessions with UCSB Dining Services Ron Varenchik said a critical component of the Dining Halls’ commitment to sustainability is Santa Barbara Harvest, a broker connecting local farmers with nearby businesses to secure contracts for their produce.

“They are the same exact vendors you could find at Santa Barbara farmer’s markets — all the farmers you see on Tuesdays and Saturdays in Santa Barbara and Goleta,” Varenchik said.

Other topics included discussions on achieving wide-scale adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency policies in the Santa Barbara region, maintaining environmentally preferable purchasing practices, providing community-wide career training for unemployed Central Coast youth and adults, as well as the importance of keeping community dollars within the local economy.



This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.