New Water Refill Stations Across Campus

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As part of the UC San Diego’s zero waste and healthy campus goals, Facilities Management finished installing 10 new water refill stations across campus!
Bring your reusable water bottle or mug to get clean drinking water at these new locations:
  • Wells Fargo Hall 1W102 (Rady)
  • Wells Fargo Hall 2N116 (Rady)
  • Hubbs Hall 1st floor near elevator (SIO)
  • Svredrup Hall 1st floor  (SIO)
  • Ritter Hall 1st floor  (SIO)
  • Skaggs School of Pharmacy (2 installed)
  • Solis Hall
  • York Hall
  • Warren Lecture Hall

Funded by the Vice Chancellor for Resource Management and Planning, the stations join many others across the university, keeping the campus community hydrated without the use of plastic bottles. Locate a water refill station near you via the online campus map.

Engineers for a Sustainable World [ESW] Solar Interact Unveiling

IMG_9617.JPGOn Wednesday, October 24, Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) celebrated the official unveiling of Solar Interact with a ribbon cutting at the Sustainability Resource Center.  Solar Interact is an exhibit where a user can interact with solar energy through a hand crank generator game. The user picks a difficulty level on the tablet and competes with a simulated solar panel located on top of Price Center. The goal of the game is to generate more power than a solar panel for 30 seconds. The different difficulty modes come from competing against different size solar panels. The solar panel measurements are from the solar panels on top of Price Center during peak hours of the day.

The lights on Geisel will light up corresponding to the instantaneous power generated by the solar panel on the left side and the user on the right side. This output of instantaneous power can also be seen on the tablet. 

The beginning of the game is initialized by the tablet sending the Arduino a start message via bluetooth. The Arduino begins reading measurements from the 3D printed crank. The 3D printed crank is attached through a metal rod to an encoder. The encoder tracks the rate at which the crank spins and reports this information to the Arduino microcontroller. The Arduino microcontroller processes the information and sends power output to the tablet via bluetooth. The Arduino also lights up the Geisel model with both the solar panel information and the user information. When the game ends, the tablet sends an end game message to the Arduino.

The goal of this project is to create an educational exhibit related to the positive impacts of using solar energy over electrical energy. It also features an interactive game where a user attempts to generate more energy than a solar panel through a hand crank. Not only is this exhibit educational, but it will also provide a service in the form of an interactive map of UC San Diego’s Price Center, and allow three engineering disciplines to gain hands-on experience in one project.

Learn more about Solar Interact here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Org Spotlight: Ecology, Behavior & Evolution Club

ebe.jpgThe Ecology, Behavior & Evolution (EBE) Club is dedicated to building a diverse community of undergrads interested in ecology and evolutionary biology. We provide a variety of opportunities for you to get involved and explore: from research position and internship guidance to hosting guest speakers, volunteering at local restoration projects, and more.

The EBE Club is also the local chapter for SEEDS (Strategies for Ecological Education, Diversity and Sustainability), a national network of student groups founded by the Ecological Society of America.  A primary goal of SEEDS is to increase participation by under-represented groups in ecology. UCSD SEEDS/EBE Club students can apply for numerous travel and research opportunities here.

Join the Facebook Group to hear about upcoming events and opportunities!