Global Climate Action Summit – Nikko Bouck

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Global Climate Action Summit 2018 

In early September, hundreds of people came together at the Global Climate Action Summit to address climate change and to “Take Ambition to the Next Level”. This conference has been developed on the belief that all social sectors play a critical role in mitigating climate change and have the responsibility to collectively commit to this mission. Undergraduate computer engineering student, Nikko Bouck was invited to the summit as a youth delegate and attended as a representative of UC San Diego.

Picture2Reflecting on his experience, Nikko summarized by saying “Thousands of dignitaries and delegates at this event were working to build some kind of sustainable infrastructure, system, or business” and iterated that much of the conversation revolved around the electrification of the transportation sector. While he appreciated the intent of the e-vehicle movement, he was critical of the hazards created by lithium-ion battery waste. Because battery recycling has not been developed to a sustainable and standardized scale, he worries that converting to electric vehicle fleets will catalyze “an ubiquitous environmental problem, as [lithium-ion batteries] are certainly volatile and can burn at great temperatures if not disposed of correctly”.

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Nikko with Arsenio Y. Mataka, Environmental Advisor to the California General, Xavier Becerra, discussing concerns about the electric vehicle push.

In voicing these concerns, Nikko also elaborated on potential solutions via his non-profit organization One Habitat Foundation. His organization has developed a software called Operation Trash Route that will be “introducing an e-waste collection option as a way to reduce the hassle people face when trying to find hazardous waste disposal”. He discussed this project with many representatives at the summit, including small-business owners, the Buenos Aires President of the EPA, and a member of the Mayoral Committee in Johannesburg.

Nikko truly embodied the theme of the Climate Action Summit – “Take Ambition to the Next Level”. Instead of simply celebrating the idea of converting the transportation sector to electric vehicles, he processed it with a critical eye and is making efforts to address its weaknesses.

Nikko was the 2018 recipient of UC San Diego Sustainability’s Outstanding Student Award. Read more about his accomplishments here.

Closing the Loop: Roger’s Community Garden’s Living Laboratory and Food Waste Collection Program

unnamed.jpgRoger’s Community Garden and Living Laboratory, part of the Bioregional Center for Sustainability, Planning, and Design, partner of UC San Diego’s Sustainability Department, and 2018 Winner of the UC San Diego Student Organization Sustainability Award, is raising the bar to reach UC Office of the President goals of carbon neutrality by 2025 and zero waste by 2020. Through its student-centered approach to experiential learning, Roger’s has been able to support a fully-functioning food waste to food and fuel system that converts food waste into renewable electricity, compost, and nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer, which all converge to produce more food to address student food insecurity at the Triton Food Pantry. The electricity generated by this system will feed into the battery storage banks incorporated into the Garden’s nanogrid, modeled after UC San Diego’s own microgrid. All aspects of the food-waste-to-food-and-fuel system are also working to be automated by undergraduates majoring in computer science and engineering disciplines using microprocessors such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi. This student-created design approach allows this system to close the carbon loop and make a recirculating food production system that uses all of its waste products to produce more food in a sustainable manner. In order to power the food-waste-to-food-and-fuel system, 1000 lbs of food waste per week from a dozen Price Center restaurant vendors is collected by student interns and volunteers in collaboration with University Centers.

Picture2.jpgThrough the interdisciplinary collaboration of students studying chemistry, engineering, computer science, speculative design, social sciences, and others, student-managed Roger’s Garden and Living Laboratory has been able to collect 10,100 lbs of food waste from January 22 to September 3, 2018, which equates to 1.14 tCO2eq sequestered, not including biogas generated or the CO2 sequestered from the resulting plant growth. Unlike other waste management solutions used by the university, which use trucks to transport food waste from Price Center to facilities in Otay Mesa or Oceanside, Roger’s program stays onsite, reducing carbon emissions and the associated costs from transportation. Roger’s Garden and Living Laboratory has also formed a unique series of partnerships with academia such as the Bioregional Center, local industry and nonprofits such as GRID Alternatives, Food2Soil, Global ARC of Oceanview Growing Grounds, Backyard Fruit Tree San Diego, alumni, and researchers which has provided undergraduates with the opportunity to engage with a variety of stakeholders and foster a interdisciplinary collaborative environment that encourages innovative solutions to climate change, food insecurity, waste diversion, conservation, and energy demands. Looking forward, Roger’s hopes to incorporate its innovations into the University Long Range Development Plan and standard university practices in order to lessen the footprint and improve the well-being of the students of UC San Diego and the people of the surrounding communities.

Green Outlet Project

Interview with Natalia Koga

econauts-natalia.jpgThrough the Green Outlet Program, students and staff can recycle materials that cannot go into single-stream recycling, and would otherwise go to the landfill. The Program consists of six compartment waste collection systems that are placed in the reslife offices. Using the compartments we collect batteries, ink cartridges, air cushions, writing instruments, water filters, and electronic waste. Once the bins are full, the Econauts team in HDH will then collect the waste and source the waste properly for disposal. 

When I was coming up with this project, I had done hours of research, looking at the factors that contribute to recycling. I had researched different processes and programs in other countries like Sweden, for example, and tried to understand what they have done to make it more compelling for people to mitigate their trash. I found that there were two major factors impacting an individual’s will to recycle–availability and time. If the resource isn’t there to collect or source items, it becomes very hard to even think to properly mitigate non-recyclable items. Those who are more aware and passionate about sustainability might look for outside sources, but most people aren’t aware so they won’t know to look. 

IMG_20181011_094404.jpgThe second issue is time. Time is precious, and if it requires a person to go “out of the way,” it’s inconvenient. UC San Diego, in fact, has many resources to collect these items already, but because they’re in specific locations spread around campus, it’s inconvenient for most students. More so, these locations are less known because they’re not the center of student involvement.

So that’s when I thought about making some sort of system that will be more convenient and more readily available at locations centered around student involvement. I was inspired by the Sustainability Resource Center‘s bin collection in their office, and I wanted to take what they did and apply it for HDH housing, the department that I worked for. Thereafter, it wasn’t long before I created a proposal, sorting out all the details and limitations that I then proposed to my manager. 

After my proposal was accepted, it didn’t take long to get the project off the ground and into reslife offices. The program exists in two reslife offices so far, Revelle and the Village. We hope to be able to have the program bins in every reslife office, and maybe even one day spread to other departments. This waste does not have a place inside our landfills and cannot be easily diverted here on campus. This project’s objectives is to provide closer outlets to students for proper disposal of particular waste, to promote utilization of resources on campus, and to promote sustainable practices. 

IMG_20181011_094520.jpgI actually have passed this project along to another team member of mine, as I decided to depart the Econaut‘s team to pursue other goals. With that said, I am so excited to see where the Econauts take the program and I hope students will get to hear more about what the Econauts at HDH do because they’re doing great things! 

My message to students would be to stay aware of how their waste systems work and stay mindful about how their practices affect the community. Every person’s actions are a contribution to a bigger cause, in some way or another. A person’s trash doesn’t end when they toss it in a bin–it lives to another place, another landfill, another ocean. The initiative to be more sustainable and a waste-free campus starts with us, the people. And I hope with the Green Outlet Program, it will help others to change where their contribution leads. 

Charrette Brings Campus Stakeholders Together to Update Green Building Policy for Campus 

42725434010_55a7c768ea_o.jpgAs 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.

Profile in Sustainability – Ronnie Das

Producer.jpgRonnie 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.”

Education Technology Services Donates Trike to Sustainability Resource Center

IU6A3723Over 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.

Profile in Sustainability – Thanh Tran

IMG_0231.jpgThanh Tran | B.S. Environmental Systems (Evolution, Behavior, & Ecology), Business Minor | Class of 2015

Why is sustainability important to you? 

Sustainability is important to me because I believe everyone should be responsible for their own actions; this includes the environmental impact one has on the planet. Everyone has contributed to Climate Change in one form or another and has been, or will be, affected by it. Sustainability allows us to be accountable for our actions and help mitigate the effects of Climate Change so that we can create a better planet for future generations.

Could you talk about your role with the Student Sustainability Collective and Inter-Sustainability Council? What are some things you learned from these experiences? 

During my time as the Director of Community & Outreach with the Student Sustainability Collection (SSC), I spent a great deal of my time working with other organizations, on and off campus, on events and campaigns throughout the campus. One of my greatest accomplishments in this position was establishing the Inter-Sustainability Council. My goal for the Council was to have a centralized community where organizations could collaborate and support one another. What I learned from these experiences is that a little help can go a long way. The support I received from the SSC and Inter-Sustainability Council allowed me to continuously work towards my professional goals and assist others in theirs.

Could you talk about your current position as the Sustainability Coordinator at CR&R? What do you enjoy about having a career in sustainability?

I currently work in the Solid Waste and Recycling Industry as the Sustainability Specialist for CR&R Environmental Services. The State implements laws, such as Assembly Bill 341 (Mandatory Commercial Recycling) and Assembly Bill 1826 (Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling), that require businesses that generate a certain amount of waste to have recycling programs. My role is to work with cities and sanitary districts to promote recycling and organics to business owners and residents. What I enjoy most about having a career in Sustainability is being surrounded by colleagues with a similar passion and mindset. Even though we work for a corporate entity, we always have the environment’s best interest in mind.

Profile in Sustainability – Gayle Ta

photo.pngGayle Ta | Management Science Major | Class of 2001 | Director, Student Financial Solutions at UC San Diego

How did you become interested in sustainability?

I previously worked at a supply chain organization on campus and during that time sustainability was a relatively new concept in that department.  No one in the organization had true ownership or oversight in that area so I volunteered to take it on as part of my regular job responsibilities.  Learning more about what sustainability is, I reflected on my own behaviors and was shock how wasteful I was from how much food I threw out to how much energy I consumed.  I ended up being one of the early adopters of the Nissan LEAF electric car when it came out!  I’m proud to say I have been driving an electric car since 2011.

What sustainability organizations were you involved with at UC San Diego? 

I am one of the founding members of the Staff Sustainability Network.  We came together because there weren’t any sustainability resources for staff on campus and we felt that staff wanted to be more sustainable but didn’t know how.  There were several student groups but nothing that was targeted for staff. The association was created to provide a network of resources and empower staff to make an impactful change on campus.  The idea came about during a town hall meeting related to sustainability when the Chancellor was developing his strategic plan.  During the first year of the association, I served on the executive board as the treasurer.

Could you talk about your projects at Procurement? What were some of the most valuable things you gained/learned from those experiences? 

Departments can purchase supplies through an e-commerce site called UC San Diego Marketplace.  One of my earlier projects was to create different sustainability attributes such as recycled content, energy star, and a green flag to help users identify more environmentally friendly products.  What I learned from that project is that most staff want to do the right thing but you have to make it easier for them to buy the right products.

 

North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood Groundbreaking 

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In conjunction with the build-up to the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood (NTPLLN), a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Living Lab was held on UC San Diego’s main campus, between the Winter and Spring quarters of the 2017-2018 school year. In this LEED Living Lab, the primary instructors, HKS Architects‘s Tommy Zakrzewski and Saurabh Shrestha, taught a total of 37 UC San Diego students about various LEED credits that were utilized in making the NTPLLN a LEED Platinum project; in fact, the class itself contributed to the project’s LEED platinum rating, as a show of innovation in promoting sustainability. The NTPLLN also drew on LEED credits that were established in US Green Building Council (USGBC) Student’s LEED master-site, a largely student-lead project which pin-points LEED credits that apply to all of UC San Diego’s main campus. The lab ended in a networking event between students and green building professionals, where professionals explained why they entered the green building industry, and encouraged students to become green professionals themselves.
To get involved with the UC San Diego USGBC student organization, please contact ucsd.gbc@gmail.com.

Profiles In Sustainability – Sarah Heim

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Sarah Heim | Staff Sustainability Network 

How did you first become interested in sustainability and saving our oceans? What are the current problems being faced by the oceans and what’s being done to solve them? 
I think the root of sustainability started at home as a kid. I grew up on a small farm in Minnesota. We recycled and grew a lot of our own produce and meat. So I like having a connection with my food, which I now buy most of my produce and some products from local farmers market, and enjoy having a relationship with the farmers there. And I try to give thought to how I get my food: how and where was it grown, who grew it (small farm vs corporation), water usage, how far it traveled.
I studied computer science and geography at MN State University, Mankato. And while studying abroad in Australia, I fell deeply in love with the ocean. I wanted to have a job/career with GIS (Geographic Information Systems), but loved the idea of using it on a topic I’m passionate about, like conservation and science.
There are numerous issues with the ocean: pollution (runoff, plastics, oil drilling), ocean acidification, unsustainable fishing, et cetera. Various laws can be helpful, but I think it really helps when people are able to practice sustainable living in their everything lives. For example, single-use plastic is a serious problem. And while they passed laws to ban plastic bags, companies just made them thicker. So its incredibly helpful when people take the initiative to bring their own bags, utensils, plates, cups, as well as refusing plastic straws.
Could you talk about your involvement with SSN and the SIO for Sustainability group? What are some things being done in these groups (events, cleanups, etc) and how can others get involved? 
I became co-chair of the Staff Sustainability Network (SSN) fairly recently. I’d been coming to SSN meetings for years (they have monthly meetings with a range of topics and presenters), and wanted to help bring up topics I’m interested in. I was excited to bring in Klean Kanteen cups for our fundraising efforts. I have an extensive collection of stainless steel bottles (because I’m very athletically active), for my water, tea, and coffee, but I love using a Klean Kanteen cup for when I go camping or order a drink from somewhere and save using a single-use cup.
SIO for Sustainability (staff, students, and faculty) has been a little more spaced out, but we’re hoping to make it more regular and organize more events like beach cleanups and so on. There were some bike enthusiasts in the group so I was able to organize some electric bikes for people to try for Bike to Work Month.
Both groups have Facebook pages which they post their events. SIO for Sustainability has a new webpage with a lot of information!: scripps.ucsd.edu/sustainability
Could you share some sustainable lifestyle tips that you use? What are some small changes you would encourage other people to make in order to be more sustainable?  
I mostly commute now by electric bicycle, and years of taking public transportation, which I love both for so many reasons. I even managed to paddleboard to work a couple days when I lived in La Jolla. What I like most about e-biking to work is that I don’t have to break a sweat if I don’t want to, and its really affordable in the long run (compared to car expenses, maintenance, insurance, gas, etc). I really hope people give more thought to their commutes; the time they sit in traffic, the frustration it can cause, the lack of daily exercise. Living closer to your work (or telecommuting) can reduce your carbon footprint, but also greatly improve your quality of life. I’m hoping to be more involved with having more incentives and partnerships for UC San Diego staff for alternate modes of transportation.
I’m a re-use/upcycle junkie. I regularly pull things from the alleys and garbage bins to save them, as well as things around my home (clean up and/or repurpose). I.e. Reusing old hairbands to tie cords. I wish people could give a quick thought before they throw things out: Can I reuse this for something else? Can it be donated? Can it be fixed? Can it be recycled?
I continue to make a lot of personal sustainability goals. I started composting this last year, and have made so many worms happy. I’m hoping to get solar panels and expand my edible potted garden soon.
I hope people become more conscious of their impact on Mother Nature. She is very powerful, but she is getting exhausted by being taken for granted. But we rely heavily on her, more than most know or give her credit.