As UC San Diego continues to transform physically and intellectually, Vice Chancellor for Resource Management and Planning Gary Matthews brought together over 40 faculty, staff, and students on August 29 to begin the process of updating UC San Diego’s building policies and practices to ensure that environmental sustainability and human health and wellness are core requirements of building planning, design, construction, and long term facility operation and maintenance.
Organized by a team from the Sustainablity Programs Office (including a student intern from the US Green Building Council student chapter on campus), Capital Programs Management, and Campus Planning, the charrette embodied the collaborative approach that will be needed going forward to develop a new Sustainability Building Guide for campus. Departments represented included Housing, Dining and Hospitality, Procurement, the Health System and Medical Centers, Recreation, University Centers, and more.
Key themes that emerged from the charrette included:
- Strengthening a focus on reliability, redundancy, resiliency, and safety.
- Incorporating students and meaningful learning opportunities wherever possible.
- Looking at life-cycle cost factors and return on investment.
- Thinking through how best to address public-private partnership development, leaseholds, and retail spaces.
- Ensuring that the unique requirements of UC San Diego Health programs are considered.
- Considering long-term operational and maintenance impacts upfront and throughout planning, design and construction.
- Factoring in the ability to incorporate new technology.
In addition to a new Sustainability Building Guide for campus, future outcomes could include having new buildings pilot one or more green building certifications beyond the current standard of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver, such as WELL, Zero Net Energy, BREEAM, and/or petals of the Living Building Challenge.
Learn more about UC San Diego’s current green building efforts on campus here.
Ronnie Das | Environmental Systems/ Environmental Policy, Economics Minor | Class of 2009
Could you elaborate on how you are achieving an integration of art and science to inform the community on environmental topics while exploring the individual voice of the people and organizations that are making a difference around the world through your work and what do you enjoy most about your job?
Undergraduate degrees are split into two broad categories, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences, which is really unfortunate because the two actually overlap quite a bit. With a scientific backbone in Environmental Systems and the ability to creatively present information through Environmental Policy, UC San Diego provided me the skill set necessary to solve real-world issues. The path towards sustainability requires presenting information in an approachable and easy to understand way. Environmental solutions require everyone to participate from coal miners to politicians and from middle America to the Middle East, but those working on the cutting edge of scientific discovery and those who are making policy decisions are oftentimes miles apart with completely different motivations. Bridging the gap by giving an individual voice to the people and organizations making a difference around the world helps provide the necessary toolkit for voters, politicians, and governments to make more informed decisions. The art of science is teaching important information without overwhelming your audience about learning the solutions. The part of my job I enjoy most is teaching environmental topics while learning how to share that information in an effective way that is approachable for my audience. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
How did you first become interested in sustainability and why do you think it is important?
Everyone in the sustainability field has a moment where they are shaken into consciousness and make the switch from simple consumer to active participants in the global community around them. I became aware of sustainability and enthusiastic to make a difference after Hurricane Katrina, the magnitude of the hurricane was magnified by the warmer temperatures of the ocean due to climate change while the issues that happened in New Orleans were compounded by the degrading infrastructure that stemmed from economic inequality as well as social injustice. So I changed my major from Biology (Pre-Med) to Environmental Systems with a new understanding that in the midst of chaos, sustainability is the saving grace for an often overwhelming world. It is the single greatest opportunity to combine scientific innovation and cross-cultural communication with natural systems and biomimicry to alleviate social inequality and environmental issues. “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
What is the most valuable thing you learned while pursuing your degree in Environmental Systems/Environmental Policy at UC San Diego?
The most valuable thing I learned while pursuing my degree in Environmental Systems/Environmental Policy was how to learn. Most physical sciences are reactive with a narrow focus on molecular interaction, physiological mechanism, or physical structure. Environmental Systems/Environmental Policy proactively opens up an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the delicate interaction of science, culture, and economics to find holistic, reasonable, and ethical solutions. Pursuing a degree in Environmental Systems/Environmental Policy innately develops a unique learning style of approaching a wide range of subject matters from multiple perspectives to open up a world of opportunities. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
Over the summer, Education Technology Services (ETS, formerly ACMS) donated a trike (pictured above) to be used at the Sustainability Resource Center.
Educational Technology Services is part of IT Services. They provide a wide array of services to the UC San Diego campus in support of faculty, students, and staff including instructional technology resources like TritonEd, student computing environments, podcasting, and media services. Many ETS employees practice sustainability by using alternative methods of transportation to commute to campus, including public transit and bikes.
The initial hope for the use of the trike was as a test to see if electric cart usage by electronics technicians and computer lab operators could be replaced by human powered vehicles. Unfortunately, the weight of the trike with the large cargo box required very low gearing for the hills, and even with the low gearing, staff had a difficult time getting up those hills, such as from Geisel Library to AP&M. The next step was to add an electric motor to assist with the hills, but that effort never materialized. While not cheap, it would still represent a significant savings over electric carts. Another consideration was the adoption of a wider range of gears to allow for a sufficiently fast pace on flat ground (to match electric cart pace), without requiring electric assist.
Paul Jamason, Supervisor at ETS, says “it would be great to see the trike used to carry items to SRC meetings/events and for general visibility. Perhaps a big SRC logo on the trike!”
The trike will be used at the Sustainability Resource Center for transporting dishware as part of the Student Sustainability Collective‘s Reusable Dishware Program, food recovery efforts and composting.