Matt St. Clair - Sustainability Leadership at the University of California

Matt St. Clair - Sustainability Leadership at the University of California

Matthew St.Clair is the first Director of Sustainability for the University of California Office of the President, leading sustainability efforts across the 10-campus UC system since 2004.

Matt St. Clair joins Sustainable Nation to discuss:

  • Leading sustainability for the third largest employer in California

  • Using best practices from campuses to implement change across the entire system

  • University of California's ambitious climate, energy and waste goals

  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders

Final Five Responses:

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

Be a good listener. As a sustainability professional, you have to change what people do, what organizations do. And so in order to get people to work with you to make that change, you need to be a good listener to understand the pathways that are easiest to make that change and to gain the trust of the people you need to work with to change things.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?

I would say one of the technological developments I'm most excited about is that electric vehicles seem to finally be taking off. And transportation is one of the hardest nuts to crack in terms of a global greenhouse gas emissions reductions. So the fact that we have campuses that are telling me that every year at least they're doubling the number of parking permits to electric vehicles, that's really promising that that EV market is finally taking off. Especially coupled with what I said about renewable electricity now becoming available to power those cars.

Now, if only all states could be moving as quickly as California and Hawaii on electric vehicles, that would be great. What is one book you would recommend sustainability professionals read?

That is so hard? This is a going back to a classic, but John Mcphee is a great natural history writer and has written a couple books, one of which I'm blanking on the name actually, but it tells three stories of what happens when men feel like they can control nature. The Control of Nature. I knew I'd come to me. I think it provides some common understanding of a systems perspective and the interaction between human and natural systems, that we have to try to bring a greater awareness and understanding with everyone we work with on on sustainability topics.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that help you in the work that you do?

Well, working at a university, AASHE the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. It's a great resource. Their weekly bulletin is great. Similarly, the National Green Schools listserv is this great hive or group brain, that all of us in the community access when it's helpful. It helps the whole movement move forward through venues like that to connect and learn from each other.

And finally, where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading at the University of California? our main sustainability website. There's contact information for myself and others in our system wide sustainability team on that website.