By Alex Caryotakis
Since 2007, water-focused ART teams have achieved about 300,000 gallons in water savings, thanks to 2011’s Green the Greeks team. To put that number in perspective, according to UCLA’s Water Action Plan, on campus per capita yearly water usage is nearly 16,000 gallons. It is certainly a challenge and goal of ART teams to achieve water, energy, or economic savings. But as I read the reports more extensively, I wonder if there exist other measures of progress beyond gallons, dollars, or kWh’s saved.
Many teams gather valuable data on student behavior: shower schedules, hand-washing time, or average kWh usage. Others unravel the hierarchy of UCLA departments—analyzing waste disposal or food services—in an effort to make these departments more sustainable. Perhaps at the end of their two quarter research, teams like these do not produce hard metrics or realized savings, but each team does achieve something immeasurably important.
After my review of the water teams' and other’s final reports, I realize that the ESLP ART program fosters unique relationships between UCLA students and faculty. ARTists are under “ESLP ART training”. By collaborating with faculty members from a variety of professions, we find our voices as future environmental activists. Each time I meet with my team, stakeholder, or directors, I become more passionate about my role in sustainability. Each time I read the work of a previous ART team, I become more appreciative of the role they played in making the program what it is today.
Thus, our goal as the ART on ART team now shifts to not only collecting hard metrics, but also putting into words, images, or video the personal effects of the ART program. Through our work, we hope that people outside the ART community will better understand its significance on the lives of all those involved.