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.

Profile In Sustainability – Nancy Moya

 

nancy moya - Copy.jpgNancy Moya | Sustainable Business Practices & Screenwriting | 2018

What got you interested in sustainability and drove you to pursue a career in the field?

Allow me to begin by outlining my motives for entering the sustainability field. My passion in sustainability was sparked in 2010, while living in Germany. There, I had the opportunity to fully understand environmental issues and concerns, along with the influence of green businesses in creating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives for the benefit of its stakeholders – which did not resort to greenwashing.

After college, I dove right into a career as a reporter for various local newspapers and magazines, reporting and writing news and feature stories in English and Spanish related to immigration and business topics in the borderlands. Five years ago, I expanded my freelance experience in Europe by writing feature stories in Spanish for El Ibérico, the only Spanish newspaper located in London. I also acquired international experience at Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, where I started writing articles about sustainability issues and their impact on German companies in Latin America.

Could you talk about your current work in sustainability? 

I am currently an environmental freelance journalist for a national business magazine in Mexico, Mundo Ejecutivo. My focus is squarely on business/environmental angles (e.g., Corporate Social Responsibility [CSR], sustainable development and climate change) involving multinational and small-and-medium-size businesses located mostly in Mexico City. I also attended the Paris Agreement signing ceremony in New York, where I wrote a special report focusing on the importance of national parks – something former Secretary of State John Kerry mentioned as part of his speech during the event.

My experience in sustainability abroad expanded when I completed part of my master thesis in Bonn, Germany, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). There, I was able to carry out a quantitative and qualitative study of UNFCC’s publications in international media outlets. I also gained experience in Mexico City, where I started my consulting work as a co-editor of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reports for PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) clients. These kinds of sustainability reporting assist organizations to measure, understand and communicate their economic, environmental, social and governance performances, and then set goals and manage change more effectively.

I recently moved to San Diego, where I have had the opportunity to be an external consultant for the National City Chamber of Commerce (NCCC). For five months, I undertook a sustainability report, which included a waste management and energy audit that will assist the NCCC to achieve its LEED certification under v4 for O+M (Building Operations and Maintenance). As part of this study, I also conducted a transportation survey, which is arguably the most important credit in the LEED for Existing Building (LEED-EB) Rating System.

Additional information:  

In addition to my career in journalism and work as a sustainability consultant, I also bring three years of experience dealing with small businesses as a public relations and business development Manager. I have also written press releases which turn technical documents into interesting news stories on construction and engineering projects. I consider myself to be hard- working and a self-starter, who quickly understands exactly what a project requires and how to complete it quickly and effectively.

UC San Diego has earned a STARS Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education

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UC San Diego has earned a STARS Gold rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. To date more than 400 institutions have earned a STARS rating, making AASHE’s STARS program the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements through over 860 questions in five overall areas: 1) Academics, 2) Engagement, 3) Operations, 4) Planning & Administration, and 5) Innovation & Leadership.

UC San Diego’s STARS report is publicly available here.

This is the second time UC San Diego has received a STARS Gold rating, having received its first in 2013 under STARS version 1.2 and now its second under version 2.1. The university joins its sister institution UC Irvine in getting an updated STARS rating this year. UC Irvine recently received STARS Platinum, the first UC campus and one of only four institutions in the world to receive this highest STARS rating.

The very first university winner of the National Laboratory Freezer Challenge last year, UC San Diego has received recognition for its sustainability efforts from additional organizations like the USG National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), the Commercial Real Estate Digital Innovation Awards, San Diego Gas & Electric, Nature magazine, the San Diego Association of Governments, the San Diego Regional Clean Cities Coalition, and others. Highlights of our sustainability initiatives include innovative academic programs in climate and marine science, along with hundreds of courses related to sustainability; over 30 student organizations working on sustainability; completion of over $100 million in energy efficiency projects; a highly innovative energy park consisting of a microgrid, fuel cell powered by directed biogas, and an integrated energy storage system; 3.1 megawatts of solar photovoltaic generating capacity installed on and off campus, with plans to install more; the largest university electric vehicle (EV) charging system in the country; certification of all Housing, Dining and Hospitality restaurants and markets under the Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) program; and campus programs in everything from green laboratories to health and wellness to diversity, inclusion and support for underrepresented faculty, students and staff.

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit www.aashe.org.

Profile in Sustainability – Dana Gibson

Dana_Sustainbility Profile Image 20180605.jpgDana Gibson |AS AVP Environmental Justice Affairs and Inter-Sustainability Council Finance Chair | Class of 2021 | Structural Engineering major, Real Estate and Development minor

Why do you think sustainability is important and what are some ways you incorporate sustainability into your lifestyle?

Environmental Justice and Sustainability are important to me because I appreciate biodiversity, to me, this can be best understood and connected by understanding sustainable socio-ecological optimization (SSEO).

Sustainability, or in my terms sustainable socio-ecological optimization (SSEO), is the ability to continually improve the survival capacity of diverse life forms considering social and ecological constraints.

Sustainability and Environmental justice are interrelated and provide/advocate for the equity in any ecosystem; all places are located or are a part of an ecosystem which requires healthy functionality in all its diverse interdependent elements and all these elements merit equal access and support to maintain healthy functionality for the micro and macro environments.  

I incorporate sustainability into my life by reducing the amount I spend on products that are processed, packaged with unrecyclable materials, or produced by harmful or oppressive methods.  I also focus on waste reduction through self-sufficiency, like making my own hair and skin care products, and focusing on mostly plant-based nutrition as well as seeking out the best locally and organically sourced products.

Could you talk about your role and involvement with the UCSD Associated Students Office of Environmental Justice Affairs (ASEJA)? 

As the Associated Student Environmental Justice Affairs Outreach Intern I made every effort to increase collaboration with other sustainability groups that seek to achieve similar goals, host impactful and intentional events for the student body, and establish a good foundation for Environmental and Social Justice in the community at UC San Diego. With ASEJA, I’ve hosted events like Thrifty Thursday, a pop-up thrift store event, and Earth Week programming events supporting food justice and education on the history of environmentalism.

I am an Environmental and Social Justice Advocate with a Permaculture Design Certification (PDC), and I am very passionate about holistic sustainability research and development.  I’m also an Entrepreneur in the sustainability science, research, and redevelopment industries. My hope is to significantly advance sustainability in integrated ways taking into account social, economic, ecological, and technical challenges.  Therefore, as the AVP Environmental Justice Affairs, I will be advancing sustainability engineering and be focusing efforts toward education, engagement, and outreach for sustainability as well as environmental and social justice.

What other sustainability organizations/ projects are you involved with? 

I’m also involved with the Inter-Sustainability Council (ISC) and will begin GreenCORP, an initiative to provide volunteer and internship opportunities for hands-on engagement in Sustainable Living and Sustainability Thinking. Also, I will be expanding The Association for Women in Sustainability Engineering, Research, & Development (SE R&D), a pre-professional student organization passionate about environmental and social justice advocacy for disadvantaged communities and the development of software and products for establishing resilient food production systems through Sustainability R&D.  

As a sustainability science, research, and redevelopment entrepreneur the Resilient Redevelopment Project is an in-progress project focused on property maintenance, remodeling, and restoration with cost-efficient sustainable infrastructure powered by sustainability science and engineering.  

Please feel free to reach out to me if you’re interested in getting involved with GreenCORP, SE R&D, or The Resilient Redevelopment Project!

Profile In Sustainability – Kristi Sobol

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Kristi Sobol | Class of 2015 | B.S. Environmental Engineering 
What made you want to pursue an Environmental Engineering degree?
Growing up in Southern California, I took up surfing at a very young age and have always spent as much time as possible in the ocean. I began to notice the effects litter, pollution, overdevelopment, offshore drilling, etc. has on the ocean and beach communities. I knew I wanted to pursue a career that could further prevent the deterioration of our environment and preserve it for future generations – so they too can enjoy outdoor activities like surfing. I chose to pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering because it is a vast and versatile field, where the ultimate goal is to improve and protect the environment, as well as create a better quality of life for human beings. Environmental Engineering includes, but is not limited to, waste management, water treatment, air pollution mitigation, alternative energy development, sustainable building, public health improvements, etc. Studying Environmental Engineering at UCSD was one of the most rewarding experiences!
What area of sustainability are you most interested in and why? 
The area of sustainability I am most interested in is green building and the sustainable development of communities. This interest sparked while I was an intern for the Southern California Gas Company, working out of the Energy Resource Center: a model energy-efficient building, using sustainable technologies to minimize its impact on the environment and natural resources. I had an eye-opening experience of how much waste buildings generate – everything from building materials, electricity, water usage, trash generated by the occupants, transportation to buildings, etc. As human beings, we need shelter; there will always be buildings and community development. I’m passionate about working towards solutions to make our buildings and communities more sustainable, smarter, and providing the most comfort for people. My interest in green building eventually led me to become a LEED GA (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Associate).
What sustainability organizations were you involved with while at UC San Diego?
While I was at UCSD, I was part of the Student Sustainability Collective (SSC), where my role was the Director of Finance and the Green Initiative Fund. I was responsible for approving and tracking funds for all SSC events and campus sustainability initiatives. I also managed the Green Initiative Fund, which is money given to student projects that promote sustainability on campus. Some of the projects I worked on during my time with the SSC include Solar Chill, expansion of the community gardens, and installation of hydro stations around campus.
Could you talk about your current and previous sustainability-related work experiences and what were some of the most valuable things you gained/learned from those experiences? 

I mentioned some of my previous sustainability-related work experiences above. Previously, I was also an intern for San Diego Gas & Electric and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, implementing company-wide sustainable initiatives, practices, and technologies. I currently work in the Public Works Department for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, working on installation development and construction; ensuring it protects natural resources, minimizes facility footprints, and enhances the quality of life for the military community.

From all these experiences, I have really learned the importance of teamwork and creating positive relationships. Many of my accomplishments are due to a team supporting me – whether it was my family, engineering senior design team, SSC directors, fellow interns, my coworkers, etc. A lot more is accomplished when people work together and help each other. In terms of sustainability, it is going to take a group effort to mitigate the damage to the environment and make efforts together to preserve it for the future.

Recycling just got easier on campus thanks to Keep America Beautiful and 150 new recycling bins!

UC San Diego Wins Keep America Beautiful Recycling Grant

Left to right: I Love A Clean San Diego Executive Director Pauline Martinson, UC San Diego Vice Chancellor for Resource Management and Planning Gary Matthews, Chief Procurement Officer Ted Johnson, undergraduate students, and Facilities Management Housekeeping staff celebrate the university’s win of a 2017 Keep America Beautiful recycling bin grant by — what else? — recycling! Photo credit: Rhett Miller, UC San Diego

Recycling just got easier on campus thanks to Keep America Beautiful and 150 new recycling bins!

UC San Diego is one of 48 recipients nationwide of a recycling bin grant from Keep America Beautiful, which has been working since 1953 to end littering, improve recycling, and beautify America’s communities.

Staff have already begun placing 150 new bins across the university inside buildings like the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CaliT2), several engineering buildings, and its iconic Geisel Library.

To celebrate, Vice Chancellor for Resource Management and Planning Gary Matthews and Chief Procurement Officer Ted Johnson welcomed I Love A Clean San Diego Executive Director Pauline Martinson to campus on Friday, April 13. A local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, I Love A Clean San Diego leads and inspires the San Diego region to conserve and enhance the environment through example, outreach, and local involvement. VC Matthews, CPO Johnson, and ED Martinson had the chance to interact with a few of our dedicated Housekeeping staff from Facilities Management staff, the “boots on the ground” who make sure recyclables go into our blue bins and, from there, into the outside larger bins that will be emptied and taken to off-site sorting facilities.

They also had the chance to meet a few of our inspiring students, all of whom are currently interning for offices on campus like Planning or Sustainability,  learning about and assisting with green building or environmental planning efforts. ED Martinson also got a tour of the Sustainability Resource Center, where our center manager and students have developed a number of recycling collection centers and educational displays — all part of UC San Diego’s zero waste initiative.

This is a milestone year for Keep America Beautiful and its corporate sponsor, Coca-Cola. With the help of Keep America Beautiful and many other partners and communities across the country, The Coca-Cola Company achieved the 1 million mark for recycling bins donated to communities this year.

A very big thank you to Keep America Beautiful for this generous grant. We are already putting the bins to good use making sure we recycling more and send less to the landfill!

PS Want to know what to put in one of those new blue bins you might see in a building on campus? Print a recycling sign for your residence hall or on-campus apartment, office or laboratory!

Sara McKinstry, Campus Sustainability Manager, on behalf of lots of staff and students who help move us towards zero waste

Profile in Sustainability – Yung Nguyen

Headshot2.PNGYung Nguyen | Class of 2014 | B.S. Environmental Engineering, minor in Urban Studies and Planning

Why is sustainability important to you? 

I was born in Vietnam and grew up there until I was 10. Even though I lived in Sai Gon, the old capital of Southern Vietnam, much of where I lived was underdeveloped and sidewalks were separated by canals of streams, wastes, and rainwater runoffs. Flood, blackouts, and contaminated water supply – they were no stranger to my life.  I have seen people living in huts where decaying woods and leaves are holding up the structure. I have seen trash and blackened water flow next to a 4-story apartment’s bricks. Even though things are a lot better now as my hometown is more developed, I believe climate change can quickly make them almost permanent or long enough to be a hazard to many people’s livelihood. I still have a lot of family in Vietnam, so I do not want to see climate change destroy their lives.  Another strong influence is my spiritual origin that changed my attitude toward animal agriculture and silent suffering of billions of sentient beings being murdered every year for flesh. Often, I felt helpless and powerless to see such unnecessary suffering that these intelligent beings have to go through.

Sustainability has many branches, but I think the mission in any sustainability line of work- whether it be water work, waste management, resource management, energy efficiency, and etcetera – will always have a humble purpose of protecting someone or something. From my personal journey, I knew I wouldn’t be here without the help of people who cared about others without knowing who the others are personally.  When I was thinking about what I want to do with my life, I wanted to be in a profession to pay it forward, protect my family, and protect those who didn’t have a voice. And sustainability was it!

Could you talk about your current work at DNV GL and how it helps to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals?  

At DNV GL, formerly known as KEMA, I currently work as an engineer in the Sustainable Buildings & Communities (SBC) group. My business unit is specialized in building science services and large-scale planning studies such as climate action plan, resiliency planning, and energy planning. We work with cities, developers, and design teams to come up with strategies to attain the highest sustainable goals. My team works on delivering at least 50 Platinum Certified LEED projects and some of the first few net-zero energy buildings.

I am one of the technical support staff where my skill sets are in energy modeling, building science, and data analytics. On a daily basis, I support the energy modeling work and create complex calculations to inform a decision. I enjoy bringing visualization of solutions to the table and supporting my senior co-workers with quality deliverable to clients.

The most challenging projects that I have worked on at DNV GL are international projects where there are economic and social issues that first world countries are not used to. However, I feel very fortunate to be involved in these projects and apply the best practices I’ve learned to recommend solutions. Most often the long-term goals such as UN Sustainable Development Goals are translated or integrated into our work where we show clients other key metrics that are not usually considered in the equation. I am very much inspired by my team members who really believe the solutions we deliver and having the data to show for it.

My company also shows its dedication to innovation by investing a portion of our earnings toward research and development. As a company, DNV GL produces Energy Transition Outlook Report as well as A Safe & Sustainable Future roadmap report updated every few years or so, where our research team laid out the vision for the future with UN Sustainable Development Goals in mind. Our team works together with our forward-thinking customers very hard every day to bring these visions to life.

Could you talk about your involvement with the student organizations at UCSD? What projects/campaigns were you a part of?

Out of my student org involvement, the most memorable experience was being the outreach coordinator/lead for Engineers without Borders. While admittedly I had no idea what I was doing, I had help from Saura Naderi, who now works at Qualcomm Think-a-Bit STEM program, as well as anyone who was there at every outreach meeting *shout out to OG squad*.

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Second Chance students working on an outreach project. 

We organized a group of volunteers to deliver a lesson plan with students at the Second Chance Program who works with incarcerated youths and even took them to UC San Diego for a campus tour. The project later on expanded to building an actual aquaponic system with the students on their community farm. While being an outreach coordinator didn’t seem like it was applicable to my future engineering position, this experience was a great blessing as I connected with many friends and learned a great deal in creating a curriculum. Recently, I was working on creating an energy efficiency curriculum for the Chula Vista Elementary School District with the City of Chula Vista. By working with students and the outreach community previously, it has helped me to think from the student’s perspective and create the best product as possible.

 

Secondly, I really appreciated the experience of starting a student organization back then (Association of Energy Engineers – UCSD chapter). With AEE, my friends and I were able to participate in a Department of Energy Better Building Case Competition. With the help of campus resources and our amazing treasurer, Michelle Tang, our team traveled to Washington D.C., competed with 27 other universities, and brought back the “Most Innovative Award”. It caught us by surprise, and that feeling still left a smile on my face.

 

PEACE group on meatout day

PEACE group on meatout day.

Third, I truly met a lot of inspiring human beings from PEACE (People for the Elimination of Animal Cruelty through Education). We worked together to hand out free vegan foods on library walk once a year on MeatOut Day to show people how delicious vegan foods are. PEACE also worked very hard to get an all-vegan restaurant on campus among other grassroots activities. I remember I made 170 vegan cupcakes one year and worked at a food booth during SunGod to bring vegan options to the festival. A lot of my role models were my peers from this group who continue to be torch-carrier of kindness and sustainability in different corners of the earth.

 

All in all, I think these involvements really shaped who I am and have a special place in my heart.

What’s your graduation year, major(s)/minor(s)? 

 I graduated in 2014 with Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering and a minor in Urban Studies and Planning. For my technical track, I took static, dynamics, control series, and SIO classes in hydrology and ArcGIS.

I often get asked whether what I learned in school is useful in my current work and what I would recommend. The short-ish answer: Yes, usually the classes will be useful if you can include what you learned and illustrate it in your project portfolio. Thus, I would recommend practical classes outside of your standard curriculum, such as classes taught by industry leaders and/or classes that offer training in a particular software or particular skill set. My thinking has become more pragmatic as an engineer, so by finding classes that apply “learning by doing” really worked for me.

Profile in Sustainability – Carly Bonnell

IMG_0651.jpgCarly Bonnell | Critical Gender Studies & Sociology | Class of 2004 

How did you first become interested in sustainability and are there any particular aspects of sustainability you are most interested in? (e.g. reducing waste, saving water, etc).
I was the 5th-grader in school who developed a recycling program for their science project. I grew up on an organic farm in Fallbrook and have enjoyed a simpler, more rural life living close with the earth.

I’m a UC San Diego and UCLA alumnae. Before coming back to UC San Diego to work, I was able to serve as the co-chair of the Green Committee, a program at SDSU Research Foundation. This allowed me to see how work cultures can be increasingly flexible in integrating and changing practices to prioritize saving our earth. We were able to enact policies to stop the purchase of wasteful products, such as K-cups & straws, promoted recycling programs and reducing waste in office spaces, as well as organizing clean-up days where we would clean-up our outdoor work environments together as staff.

Now, I am so excited to be working for UC San Diego in the School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry’s Alzheimer’s Caregiver Study, as well as serving as the Treasurer for the Staff Sustainability Network (SSN)! I am committed to assisting UC San Diego in our goal of Zero Waste by 2020 and increasing SSN’s continued impacts on campus.

I see sustainability as intrinsically tied to well-being and quality of life. I am increasingly concerned with issues of global warming, overpopulation, overconsumption, and a throw-away type culture. I have always held strong values of commitment to protect our earth and conserve our environments. As a mental health researcher, I see everyday how much our physical environments affect our mental health; this relationship is very literal to me and drives my passion to create a better world — one that has moment-to-moment intention and respect for our planet.

Also, I am an aspiring Vegan and am very interested in the ways in which intentional living, including plant-based and cruelty-free living, can create a more sustainable planet for all 🙂

Could you talk about your involvement as the Treasurer of SSN?
As Treasurer for SSN at UC San Diego, I am responsible for the fiscal activities of the group, mostly tied to membership, development and operations. I provide general accounting for our network and produce monthly reports and cash flow forecasting feedback about our funds. I am part of the Executive Board at SSN and contribute to planning meetings, coordination of our services, as well as general outreach for our awesome network of committed members!

What are some of the projects/events that happen with SSN?
SSN holds a general meeting each month for our members and any UC San Diego staff interested in promoting sustainability on campus. We have presentations, tours and provide a general space for staff committed to creating improved impacts on our environment.

We also provide funds available to staff for special projects on campus or in their specific departments, and we also work with larger initiatives on campus, such as Zero Waste 2020 to help UC San Diego reach our sustainability goals.

Profile in Sustainability – Geoffrey Alves

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Geoffrey Alves | Bachelor’s Degree Environmental Engineering | Class of 2017

What does sustainability mean to you?

 To me, sustainability is something that is much more easily talked about than actually implemented. While at UC San Diego, I took several classes on environmental challenges, climate policy, and climate science. In all of these classes, it became obvious that climate change was rooted in anthropogenic desires to progress in the world, and that sustainability has become a hot topic in response to climate change. Since the industrial revolution, we have used fossil fuels to feed a consumerist culture and now we are seeing the negative impacts of these actions in the form of global warming, pollution, rising ocean levels, droughts, species extinction, and more. While I’m sure there have been plenty of sustainably minded people in the past, I believe sustainability is more important now than it has ever been before. In a sense, sustainability is reactive to fixing the problems of climate change, but I believe it should also be seen as proactive in preventing further damage to Earth.

I know I am not a perfect model citizen of sustainability, but I did decide to pursue an environmental engineering degree in the hopes that I could someday make a positive impact in a sustainability-oriented career. I believe clean energy (especially at an industrial level) is at the center of changing the course of Earth’s climate, and I hope that my background in environmental engineering will allow to me to be a part of the clean energy movement. Sustainability is also highly societal in nature because it requires an open mind and willingness to consume less and recycle more. It is easy to predict how sustainability can change the course of Earth’s climate, but much harder to convince people to change their mindsets and lifestyles in order for these predictions to come true. However, college organizations like the Sustainability Office and Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), as well as increasing climate politics and an emerging green energy sector give me confidence that we can come together collectively to create a more sustainable future that could rebalance Earth’s climate.

Could you talk about your involvement with ESW while at UC San Diego? What project(s) did you work on?

I was a member of Engineers for a Sustainable World for three years while attending UC San Diego. In Fall Quarter of my second year, I joined a brand new project, “Bottles to Models” (B2M for short), and I eventually became project co-leader for one year. The goal for B2M was to reduce campus waste by investigating the usefulness of reusing plastics, such as milk jugs used in coffee shops, as material for 3D printing. In the first year of the project, we spent a lot of time researching the feasibility of using milk jugs and the process for converting it into filament. The process included shredding down the plastic, feeding it into a heated filament extruder, and testing the recycled filament in our own 3D printer. While we were discussing our project with some of the 3D printing studios on campus, we discovered that they have bins of scrapped 3D prints that they didn’t have a use for. In my last meeting as project co-leader, we successfully shredded and extruded the scraps into new filament. Although we were never able to get to the milk jugs during my tenure, the project is ongoing with two new leaders and I am excited to see where it goes. We also created a long-term goal to start supplying our filament back to the 3D printing studios, and to reach out to local schools in order to promote STEM and sustainability.

ESW also provided great volunteering opportunities in sustainability. I was able to participate in a beach cleanup and Solarthon with Grid Alternatives. I think joining ESW was one of the best decisions I made in college because of the project experience, volunteering, but most importantly the people I met. I saw the organization grow every year in the number of projects and members, and it was very inspirational to see how passionate people could be for sustainability. As a national organization, ESW is truly fostering the future engineers that will lead the way in creating long-term sustainability solutions.

You work at Solar Turbines, a company committed to manufacturing reliable, efficient, low-emitting turbines. Could you talk about your work (or other projects at Solar Turbines) and how you see that fitting in with a sustainable future?

I will start off by stating that Solar Turbines (Solar) is an oil and gas company that does support the oil and gas industry, among others. However, here is my take on why we can lead the way in sustainability. First, our turbines run on natural gas, which burns much cleaner than coal, and we have SoLoNOx™ technology for even lower pollutant emissions. Currently, our turbines are necessary to fill in the gaps when renewable energy cannot meet power needs. Through emission monitoring, we are constantly researching and designing new technology to more efficiently burn natural gas. In my role as a hydromechanical design engineer, I will be a part of designing these fuel systems on customer turbine packages. Second, Solar has developed several technologies for sustainable power generation. Our combined heat and power packages reclaim exhaust heat from natural gas combustion to be used in applications, such as boilers, instead of using more fuel to boil water. We also have turbines that run on reclaimed methane-rich gas coming from landfills and wastewater treatment plants. Lastly, what I am most excited about and hope to contribute to is Solar’s energy storage. Essentially, we are already very good at creating frames and enclosures to house our turbines, so we decided to design a new package to fill with batteries. At up to a megawatt in energy storage, these packages can be deployed anywhere to support renewable energy sources. Due to the intermittency of renewables, energy storage will be critical to hold excess generated power for use during times when no power can be generated. Solar Turbines is an international industry leader in power generation, and with the backing of Caterpillar (American Fortune 100, Global Fortune 500), I believe we can have great influence in the future of sustainable power.