Kristen Wonder, Sustainability Coordinator at Spartan Shops at San Jose State University, was recently celebrated by PG&E as an Energy Champion for her outstanding accomplishments in reducing energy waste within her organization, through the Step Up and Power Down campaign. PG&E explains, “Whether rallying coworkers to turn off lights, leading the charge to power down workstations or being a constant advocate for sustainability within the community, these Energy Champions have one thing in common––together, they’re taking small actions every day that add up to make a big impact.”
As part of the campaign, Kristen’s energy achievements, along with those of a number of other Energy Champions who participated in a REV Sustainability Circle® as part of Step Up and Power Down, are being featured in a city-wide publicity campaign. We asked Kristen about her participation and the keys to her successful outcomes.
Q—Why is sustainability so important to Spartan Shops at San Jose State University?
Kristin Wonder —Supporting the SJSU community is the primary goal for Spartan Shops and a huge part of that is environmental responsibility. We integrate environmental responsibility into our food sourcing, practices, and products we purchase. With my position as Sustainability Coordinator, I am able to research and implement sustainable practices that are not only good for the environment but lead to a sustainably conscious SJSU community.
Q—What inspired you to join the REV Sustainability Circle as part of the Step Up and Power Down Program?
KW—As a recently new full-time employee, I was intrigued by the group dynamics that the Sustainability Circle program offered. Having the ability to work not only within a group of San Jose State employees but also with other Bay Area companies allowed me to develop and expand on my ideas. Creating a comprehensive sustainability action plan has proven to be very helpful for myself and my company.
Q—What were some of the things that you hoped to achieve through the program?
KW—I was hoping to gain new perspectives into implementing sustainability initiatives from other Bay Area businesses.
Q—Can you describe a few of the most successful initiatives that you put into place?
KW—One of the most successful initiatives that I put into place as a result of the REV Sustainability Circle was the Sweet Goodnight Campaign. Through the campaign, I was able to engage my office to improve their energy savings actions by 57% and reduce their energy waste by 6%.
Another successful initiative was the recent implementation of Green Monday on campus. Green Monday is an campaign that focuses on reducing meat consumption for environmental and health purposes, specifically on Mondays.
Q—When it comes to getting people at the university to make energy saving part of the culture, did you face any challenges? If so, how did you overcome those?
KW—I think, in general, that getting people to make changes to their daily routine is a challenge in and of itself. Working towards making sustainability and energy saving part of the campus culture is achieved through fun and engaging campaigns. For example, the Sweet Goodnight campaign turned into a fun office game and employees were rewarded with sweet treats when they powered down. Since the campaign lasted 4 weeks, the action of powering down became a daily habit for most employees.
Encouraging students to bring their own reusable mug for coffee or tea was another challenge of mine. Past campaigns proved to be ineffective in increasing reusable mug sales so I created a new one. The Mug Life campaign was created and students all over campus can now recognize the artwork. Reusable mug sales have doubled since the campaign started.
Q—What does it mean to you to be an Energy Champion?
KW—I am so honored to be an Energy Champion! To be able to partner with PG&E Step Up and Power Down and engage my employees to be more sustainable was incredibly rewarding.
Kristen Wonder is the Sustainability Coordinator for Spartan Shops Dining Services at San Jose State University. She is passionate about sustainable education and is working towards creating a more just and sustainable food system on campus. In addition to her passion for sustainability, she loves to hike, garden, and cook (with a good glass of wine).