Campus Highlights: Solar Chill

Solar Chill Site RenderingSolar Chill is one of multiple ongoing student-run projects as part of UC San Diego’s Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) organization. ESW’s mission is to bring communities together to develop, implement, and share sustainable technologies and practices worldwide. The Solar Chill team saw the need to create a unique safe haven for students to de-stress. Built upon a passion for sustainability and campus unity, the team pitched the concept of delivering a solar charging station that would capture solar energy and provide shading, while incorporating sustainable seating for students to recharge both their bodies and electronic devices.

They are currently designing an off grid 1.5kW solar panel system that enables students to charge their electronics for free without pulling energy from any other sources except the sun. The UC San Diego community can relax under our beautiful structure by sitting upon our two rock-filled gabion benches that are topped with reclaimed Torrey Pinewood planks.

Solar Chill is the first student engineering project approved to be constructed on campus at UC San Diego! A pilot project is currently being implemented at UC San Diego North Campus (in between the Village and Eleanor Roosevelt College). The site is designed to be ADA compliant so that all members of the UC San Diego community are welcome. The team also has a portable 2.0 design in progress and can be implemented in nine other possible sites all around campus.

Solar Chill is the ideal combination of both sustainable and functional engineering in a convenient setting. The project’s purpose is to show that UC San Diego is a living laboratory where students can create the change they wish to see on campus. If anyone is interested in getting involved or following Solar Chill’s progress, please email the team at or view their website. Solar Chill and other student organized project information can be accessed through the Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) website.

UC San Diego’s “Pay It Green” Direct Deposit Campaign pays off for Students!


Sara McKinstry (Sustainability, left) and Cheryl Ross (Business & Financial Services, right) present student winner Absaala Joseph with a grand prize


Each year Student Business Services (SBS) conducts a Direct Deposit Campaign and Contest to encourage and educate UC San Diego students on the benefits of direct deposit. Direct deposit is the safe, secure, and environmentally friendly method of refunding money to students. 90% of our students are refunded via direct deposit as opposed to receiving paper checks.

In collaboration with  UC San Diego Sustainability, SBS randomly selected three students as grand prize winners of the Direct Deposit Contest. The student’s names were randomly selected from the currently enrolled direct deposit recipients.

On November 9, Cheryl Ross, Controller and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Business & Financial Services and Sara McKinstry, Sustainability Manager, presented Absaala Joseph, Daniel Rey, and Sara Goico with a $100 Visa gift cards. In addition to the grand prizes winners, four UC San Diego students won a set of San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park tickets.

Congratulations to the winners!

Staff Sustainability Network (SSN) Update November/December

UCSD Roger's Community Garden

In October, the SSN toured Roger’s Community Garden.

In October, members of the Staff Sustainability Network (SSN) were impressed by a tour of Roger’s Community Garden (RCG).  This student-run, organic garden, located behind UCSD’s Theatre District, serves the University as well as the local community.  In addition to leasing garden plots to UCSD affiliates, the students at RCG are working on composting projects and developing workshops on sustainable agriculture and nutrition.

RCG members Ben Baker, Jose Diaz, Zack Osborn, and Ismael Ramirez shared a plethora of information with SSN during the tour.  The tour weaved its way through the quarter acre of RCG, admiring successful harvests of passion fruit, three varieties of guava, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, a variety of herbs and succulents, and more.  One of the unique highlights of the tour was learning about RCG’s aquaponics system.  Simply put, water from the fish tank provides nutrients to the plants and is then recirculated back into the tank, providing an opportunity for a symbiotic relationship between fish and the hydroponically-grown vegetables.  RCG’s system yields many leafy greens, including chard and lettuce.

Based on their collections from Art of Espresso, RCG members estimate that 500+ pounds of coffee grounds are disposed of at UCSD every day.  The coffee grounds that RCG collects are used to fertilize the garden’s succulents and benefit the compost.  In the future, RCG also hopes to use the grounds to grow oyster and shitake mushrooms.  RCG has regularly-scheduled pre-consumer waste pick-ups from Yogurt World on campus and use that waste to feed their compost, red worms, and black soldier fly larvae in the garden.  They hope to partner with more University eateries in order to increase their impact of waste reduction.

If you want to get involved with or support Roger’s Community Garden, consider volunteering, renting a garden plot, donating money or materials, or attending a meeting.  You can also buy a CSA box from them!  Roger’s CSA program brings local produce to the UCSD community.  They deliver boxes in a carbon-free manner, anywhere on campus, and can work with individuals to meet their produce needs.  In the future, RCG hopes to expand their CSA program to include collecting compost from participating members- when RCG delivers the CSA box, they will also collect compost buckets for the garden.  Contact their current garden coordinator at with questions about the CSA program or for more information regarding garden involvement or support.

Photos and a video of SSN’s garden tour are available on SSN’s website.  The tour was so popular that SSN plans on coordinating another one.  If you want to join us, please come to a SSN meeting or sign up to join the SSN e-mail list.

Written by Allison Sanchirico, Membership Chair of the Staff Sustainability Network

Campus Highlight: Roger’s Community Garden

We’re kicking off our Campus Highlight series where we will be giving shout outs to different places, departments, or individuals on campus who are going above and beyond for sustainability on campus! First up is Roger’s Community Garden!


Rogers Community Garden is a student-operated garden located in Revelle College. It is a space for students to learn about sustainable agriculture and food systems as a whole. They have an aquaponics system, a form of soil-less agriculture, that uses fish and water to grow some of their crops more sustainably.  The garden is currently working with University Centers to take their pre-consumer food waste and divert it from the landfill to the garden, which will decrease its carbon footprint and help UCSD reach its goal of Zero Waste by 2020 and Climate Neutrality by 2025. This Compost Program will take food waste from Price Center and turn it into usable biofuel and food! They also encourage help to facilitate many research projects that take concepts from the classroom and apply them to real life like researching biofuels, food justice, off-grid greenhouses, and water neutral gardening.

If you have a passion for gardening, sustainable food, or just want to learn more, the garden is located in Revelle under the dance studios (near the Che Cafe). Come meet their gardeners every Saturday and Sunday from 10am-Noon. If those days don’t work for you, the garden is open 24/7 and is a great space for students, staff, and faculty to relax and take a break. All levels of gardening experience are welcome and anyone who wants to get their hands dirty is definitely encouraged to come. They also have plots open for undergraduates, grad students, staff, faculty, and members of the community for individual gardening to grow your own food and test out gardening. We hope to see you at the garden!

For more about Roger’s Community Garden please visit their Facebook, website, or email them at!

Know a lab, club, office, professor, student, or staff member who’s doing great work in Sustainability? Send an email to Carly and have them featured in a Campus Highlight!