Meet the 2021 NC State Sustainability Award Winners

The NC State Sustainability Council has announced the winners of the 2021 NC State Sustainability Awards

Martina Gonzalez Bertello (Student Recipient)

Martina Gonzalez Bertello, who is majoring in Environmental Technology and Management in the College of Natural Resources, got involved in sustainability as soon as she started at NC State by living in EcoVillage her first year and later continuing as an EcoVillage program leader. She also joined the NC State Stewards program, where she now serves as the lead student coordinator and oversaw projects including installation of water-saving timers for showers in residence halls and development of a solar-powered trellis on North Campus. Martina is also the cofounder and current president of the Student Energy Club. “Martina has committed herself to sustainability entirely. She cares deeply about creating a more equitable and sustainable world,” her nominator wrote.

Connor Celentano (Staff Recipient)

Connor Celentano is the assistant facilities coordinator in the College of Natural Resources and has been leading the college’s efforts to reduce waste and save energy. He advocated for the college to partner with NC State Waste Reduction and Recycling to become the largest Zero Waste Workplace on campus. As a result, the college added 60 food composting bins, 47 paper towel composting bins, 3 plastic film collection points and 2 composting dumpsters throughout the college’s five main buildings. Connor has also gone above and beyond to find new homes for reusable items during lab clean-outs and renovations and helped the Energy Management department convert Biltmore Hall and Pulp and Paper Labs to all LED lighting. “Connor is a good steward of university resources, and his dedication to sustainability not only benefits the environment, but also benefits the university financially,” his nominator writes.

Seth Murray (Faculty Recipient)

Seth Murray is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. In addition to his work as Director of Undergraduate Programs and International Studies Program Director, Seth has selflessly given to the effort to understand how the UN Sustainable Development Goals can be translated and applied to university-wide curricula. His nominator writes, “He has overseen a student group to explore how SDGs have been used to guide in-class and extra-curricular learning at other universities, and more recently assessed the fit between the SDGs and courses here at NC State. He has provided much needed energy and momentum in this exceptional year.” 

Feed The Pack (Student-Led Initiative Recipient)

Feed the Pack Food Pantry on campus works to meet the food needs of students, faculty and staff with dignity and respect. The nominator writes, “This organization has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to sustainability in its entire history—but most notably throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  When campus shut down, Feed the Pack was able to stay open.” In 2019, there were 3,904 pantry visits in comparison to 8,274 visits in 2020. To rise to this challenge, Feed the Pack gave out 116,079 pounds of food throughout 2020. By consistently staying open, through the summer, fall, and winter, Feed the Pack combatted food insecurity sustainably.

University Housekeeping (Department Recipient)

University Housekeeping was an early adopter of more environmentally-friendly chemicals and practices and, in 2019, became the first university in NC and the sixth university in the nation to earn the rigorous Green Seal certification for sustainability. Over the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic, NC State’s housekeeping employees have gone above and beyond to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our campus community. “This department’s long-standing commitment to sustainability, coupled with its employees’ extraordinary efforts this year, make University Housekeeping deserving of the organization award.

Wilson College of Textiles Sustainability Committee (Innovation and Impact Recipient)

The Wilson College of Textiles Sustainability Committee launched in fall 2017 as an employee effort that quickly incorporated students. The collaboration has resulted in sustainability lunch and learns, water bottle refilling stations, K-cup recycling and reusable utensils in break rooms, a textile recycling program that diverted 5,500 pounds of textile waste from landfill and more. Composting for the building is also on the way. “This committee is a great example of student-employee collaboration as the Wilson College Community continues to prioritize sustainability and sustainable initiatives,” wrote the nominator.