Charlotte Strem recognized as UC Sustainability Champion
Charlotte Strem has an infectious passion for her work. And that passion was just rewarded with the 2013 UC Sustainability Champion Award, recognizing her efforts to bring the entire UC system closer to zero waste and zero-emission transport.
As assistant director for Physical and Environmental Planning, Strem couldn’t be prouder of the recognition she received. It is the only individual award given by the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, a consortium of state educational institutions sharing best practices and supporting one another’s efforts in sustainability.
“I was nominated by my peers and acknowledged for the hard work I’ve been doing at UC for 22 years,” Strem said with unabashed emotion. “I don’t know of any other award I could get that would make me this happy.”
Her work, which falls under Budget and Capital Resources in the Division of Business Operations, includes helping campuses plan for growth through long-range development plans and administering UC’s compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act. She also chairs UC’s systemwide working groups on Sustainable Transportation and on Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling.
Her colleagues at UCOP say she is a dedicated professional whose sustainability expertise and interests run deep.
“Charlotte has long been a quiet but persuasive voice and dedicated implementer, particularly in the areas of transportation and waste management,” said Strem’s supervisor and Director of Architecture Catherine Kniazewycz.
Strem was one of the first to graduate with a B.A. from UC Santa Barbara’s then-new environmental studies program in 1974. With a master’s in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in urban design, she has strong credentials for the job.
“I’m one of the few people I know who is actually applying all my degrees in my work,” Strem said. She is expert in everything from the California Environmental Quality Act and environmental impact reports to transportation demand management and solid waste diversion. She also assures that environmental impacts are mitigated as UC campuses evolve and expand.
Describing her work as that of a “cheerleader,” she coordinates sustainability staff at each UC campus and medical center to support programs like vanpools, shuttle buses, bike racks, zero waste fairs and composting bins, anything that reduces UC’s environmental footprint, both on campuses and in their locales. And her work constantly reinforces UC’s role as a leader in conservation, restoration and innovation.
For example, Strem helped negotiate a systemwide contract with Zipcar that enables even smaller UC campuses and their local communities to benefit from the popular car-sharing service. She has been working with one campus on a program that recycles coffee grounds from all its cafes to use as compost.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960s, Strem and a bunch of friends decided to start a trend by riding their bikes to school. Now she is a dedicated BART rider who was carpooling during the strike, modestly and proudly practicing what she preaches.