California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis visits the Lyle Center during Cal Poly Pomona tour

The Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies hosted Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis on Aug. 23 during her visit to Cal Poly Pomona, one of her stops in her 23-campus tour of the Cal State University system.

Kounalakis, the first woman to hold the post as the state's lieutenant governor, is no stranger to Cal Poly Pomona. She spoke at the May 2019 commencement ceremony of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, and serves on the CSU Board of Trustees. She was the U.S. ambassador to Hungary under the Obama administration (2010-2013); and in 2014 was appointed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown to lead the California Advisory Council for International Trade and Investment, overlapping with her tenure as a Virtual Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research (2014-2017) where she specialized in international trade and immigration. She is currently a director of the Association of American Ambassadors, and a Ambassadors Circle advisor for the National Democratic Institute.

Her three-hour itinerary was designed to showcase programs and facilities unique to Cal Poly Pomona: the award-winning Student Services Building designed by CO Architects to meet Platinum LEED standards; the College of Business Administration for a presentation on Cybersecurity and Big Data; AGRIscapes, home of the CSU Agricultural Research Institute; the Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch, recipient of multiple Diners' Choice Awards, and operated and manged by students at Collins College of Hospitality; and the Lyle Center, the CSU system's  first carbon-neutral facility.

Lyle Center Interim Director Pablo La Roche and College of Environmental Design Interim Dean Lauren Bricker accompanied Kounalakis during her tour of the 16-acre "living laboratory," where she was introduced to the Tijuana House, whose low-cost sustainable design was honored by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards with the 2008 Prize for the Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy; the Aquaponics project, a collaboration between the Center and the College of Engineering; the Lyle Center Commons; and a rooftop presentation at the thermal test cells where third-year architecture students Nayeon Kim, Lorenzo Tayag and Janis Liu shared the highlights of their project: developing bio-morphic cooling devices that amplify the cooling effect of green roofs. 

"We need the kind of people to have the training that you do to advance," Kounalakis said to the group.

Kim, Tayag and Liu's devices collect and disperse water droplets after rainfall, and are designed to maximize cooling with minimum water consumption to cool the indoor space below it. The trio had tested the system on a radiant/evaporative green roof they previously developed.

"I feel very proud," Liu said. "Even though we're only starting out in research, it's encouraging to have people like her be interested in it. It keeps us motivated."