UCLA – The Village in the City Los Angeles

When entering the campsite of UCLA every Swiss student must have gotten jealous by the remarkable architecture of buildings, green fields and number of students studying at this beautiful and huge campus. The campus of the University presented the typical college movie situation where intelligent students are running from one class to the next, having lunch together at large cafeterias and pursuing any interest at the over 100 clubs existing there.

Nevertheless, the main purpose of our visit was based on another theme. Bonny Bentzin, the Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer of UCLA, took her day to inform us about the Sustainability Goals and Los Angeles’ Grand Challenges the University is facing. The University which is located in a silo is surrounded by the 3 richest Zip Codes of LA and therefore highly influenced in their decision making. Furthermore, the University consists of 10 different schools marked by various cultures with own scenarios and challenges. Furthermore, as the largest employee in the state of Los Angeles it has a huge influence on decision-making and therefore may shift other companies to adapt their best practices. While learning about the campus and its challenges Bonny Bentzin pointed out the importance of understanding the culture of an organization in order to be able to shift and make change happen.

In the morning, we got an overview of the UCLA’s sustainability goals consisting of building green buildings, new transportation opportunities, reduction of waste and water and many other goals. While listening to the approaches Bonny is planning to execute she also talked about the so-called “green bling” which refers to the thought that when for example a green building is being constructed the people and staff have to be educated on the usage of the building and other factors like the air conditioner and so on in order to build a “fully and real” green site.

After a great lunch at the University Hospital, the afternoon continued with a tour on the huge university territory to experience how students are accomodated and how living in a university of this size takes place. On the tour we passed cafeterias, university residences, gardens and sport courts.

All in all, Bonny offered us a remarkable and informative day at an impressive University where we felt like a typical UCLA student for a day.