Gayle 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.
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.
Nancy 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 broadcasterDeutsche 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.
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.
Dana 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.
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!
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.
Yung 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*.
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.
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.
Carly 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.
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.
As part of The Preuss School UCSD curriculum, seniors have to participate in service learning, research, and internship rotating between classes each trimester. Since the high school has a major focus on getting their students to attend a four-year university, they want students to have experience in each of those classes to become better prepared for higher education. For their internship class, students intern with different organizations on the UC San Diego campus.
Preuss seniors, Lesley Vo and Erick Ramos were assigned with the UC San Diego Sustainability Resource Center (SRC) during their internship class. From September to November of 2017, Lesley developed a presentation on sustainable products, which she presented to the Sustainability Ambassadors. Lesly also learned about the Green Labs Program at UC San Diego and researched different green labs programs at other universities. During Erick’s internship from November 2017 to March 2018, he learned how to use SolidWorks so he could 3D print a model of Solar Chill, which is to be put on display in the SRC. While interning at the SRC, Erick and Lesley (pictured above/left/right) offered to take multiple stacks of manila folders for their high school staff and teachers to reuse.
How did you first become interested in sustainability?
I have always been interested in sustainability on a personal level and love the thought of getting to zero waste. I feel the choices each of us makes on a daily basis make a difference. If we all incorporate a few green acts into our daily habits, we can reduce the amount of trash we generate just by doing simple things like packing a lunch, using reusable containers, bringing a refillable water bottle, using cloth napkins, and refusing one-time-use items.
How did you become involved with the Library’s Sustainability Committee?
At one point, a few of us went to the Library’s administration and asked about starting a sustainability group in the Library. Later when they put a call out for members, I immediately volunteered and have been on the team ever since. A few years ago, I became chair of the committee.
Could you talk about your role as chair of the Library Sustainability Committee?
The focus of the Library Sustainability Committee (LSC) is to promote sustainability in the library with staff and library users. We have a dedicated team of committee members– everyone brings a special talent to the group. For example, one person is excellent at writing, another at graphics, someone else is good at organization, and everyone volunteers at the events we host and serves as a resource person when questions are brought to the group. As chair, I help guide the group, meet with other sustainability organizations on campus, and share information with group members and report on our doings to library administration.
What does your group do?
Each year we come up with goals to accomplish. Many times we look at what the campus and the student groups are working on and align some of our projects with these initiatives.
This year, one of our goals is creating clear signage for our recycling and trash containers in the Library. We are working with Jennifer Bowser at the Sustainability Resource Center to get wording that is consistent with other places on campus. This will help library users know what can be recycled and help us meet the campus goals for zero waste.
The committee also holds various events in the Library. Some are for staff members only, such as the free Summertime Swap where we bring in items from home that we no longer need and exchange them with each other. We also host a staff training on recycling and energy and water conservation.
One event the Library hosts for the public is the Makers Day in April. Library staff help attendees how make various items, some from natural ingredients, others from recycled materials, and people take their projects home. Some of the things we do pretty regularly are mixing up green cleaning and beauty products, planting succulents that library staff have brought from home, and making buttons out of recycled book covers. One year we gathered hundreds of t-shirts donated by staff and the International Center’s thrift shop and people turned them into shopping bags.
Ideally, I would love to see the LSC used as a model for other departments on campus to create their own sustainability teams. Then all of those teams could get together to talk about best practices and share ideas about greening our work spaces. That would be acting locally on a level that could really make a difference.
What are some small things you do to incorporate sustainability into your everyday habits?
I look at trying to be more sustainable in my personal life as a challenge, and each year try to do one more thing. For the past four years I have eaten a predominately plant-based diet. This past year I tried to remember to bring my own “to-go” container for leftovers when I go out to eat. After forgetting a few times, I decided to leave the container in the car, so I would have it with me at all times.
This year, I was thinking about the number of papers towels I use on a daily basis and decided to cut way back. At home I’ve begun using a cloth to wipe up spills and at work I’ve been trying to use only one paper towel to dry my hands. One of my co-workers at the Library brings a small cloth with her to dry her hands–now that is dedication!
Do you belong to any other sustainability groups on campus?
I regularly attend meetings of the Staff Sustainability Network. This is a wonderful association that promotes sustainability on campus. Members meet monthly; sometimes we go on tours of sustainable buildings on campus and other times we host speakers. It’s a great way to meet new people who are passionate about sustainability and also learn new things.
Books I am currently reading:
“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power: Your Action Handbook to Learn the Science, Find Your Voice, and Help Solve the Climate Crisis” by Al Gore.
“Drawdown The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” edited by Paul Hawken
“The No Meat Athlete Cookbook” by Matt Frazier and Stepfanie Romine.