Monday, March 2, 2015

Green Building Student Alliance

Have you ever wondered what goes into making a building energy, water, and waste efficient? How can UCSC support sustainability in building designs and retrofits? What can you do to support these efforts? Tatiana Gefter (Green Building Campaign Coordinator for the Student Environmental Center), Grant Waldron (Provost's Sustainability Intern for Climate Action), and other students are collaborating to create a Green Building Student Alliance. This group will serve as a student advising resource to campus architects and project managers with a goal of increasing student participation in campus infrastructure design to keep the environment in mind.

With the West Campus Housing Development Plan in the works, the need for this type of student advising group is essential in making sure that student needs are heard and met. The Green Building Student Alliance plans to be a monthly collaborative discussion where doors are open to any and all students. In this space, the group will examine and deliberate decisions affecting the expansion of campus buildings. In addition, it will serve to help share resources and support fellow organizations with their goals while pursuing goals for sustainable infrastructure on campus.

Please email Tatiana Gefter at tgefter[at]ucsc[dot]edu if you or an organization you're involved with would be interested in participating in the Green Building Student Alliance.

Image above is Engineering 2, the first LEED-certified building at UCSC. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. Other LEED buildings (both retrofits and new buildings) include the Cowell Student Health Center, Biomedical Building,  and the Porter residence halls. For a complete listing of UC LEED-certified buildings, click here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

March 2015 Green Tip: Go Green For Your Spring Clean

It's just about time to open your windows and let in the fresh spring air. These green spring cleaning tips will help you shoo off cobwebs and sweep up dust bunnies without without the guilt of using harsh chemicals contributing to the landfill.

Green Cleaning Products: According to the EPA, the air inside of a home is two to five times more polluted than the air outside, mainly because of household cleaners and pesticides. Many common cleaning products can be made from nontoxic ingredients that you already have in your home and work just as well. Making your own cleaning solutions will also help reduce the amount of plastic packaging you buy. Check out this nontoxic solutions site for ideas and recipes.

Trash to treasure: When going through your old notes, don't just toss them in the closest trash bin, save the unused paper and use then for scratch paper and recycle the others.

If you have unwanted and slightly worn clothes, you can donate or sell them. Santa Cruz GOODWILL and the Homeless Service Center are always accepting donations. Also, UCSC has several Facebook groups where you can sell your unwanted items. Check out and join the Free & For Sell and Clothing and Accessories Exchange Facebook groups.

End the Cycle: You can save water and energy by washing full loads of laundry with cold water.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

First Annual Campus Clean Up Day

The Student Union Assembly and the Sustainability Office's Zero Waste Team have teamed up to coordinate the First Annual Campus Clean-Up Day on April 25! The vision for this event is to bring students and campus users together to clean up our beautiful campus and shed light on littering issues and improper cigarette butt disposal. We hope to create an event that motivates campus users to properly dispose of waste and encourages campus stewardship.

To make this a event a huge success, we would like to collaborate with as many student organizations as possible! If you are interested in being part of the planning sub-committees, helping with outreach, or simply want more details about the event please attend our Campus Cleanup Stakeholders Forum on Monday March 2nd in the SUA Office.

The sub-committees will be broken down as follows:
Food: Determines and acquires food/snacks that will be distributed throughout the event.
Entertainment/Activities: Develops and plans for activities/entertainment that will be held during the event.
Mapping & Facilitation: Creates and designates clean up zones and assists with recruiting clean-up facilitators for each college/region.
Supplies: Assists with acquiring, distributing and tracking clean-up supplies to all colleges.
Outreach: Focuses on promoting event and encouraging student, staff and faculty participation.
Waste Education: Works with the Zero Waste Team on waste education trainings for college clean-up facilitators.

Again, if you are interested in getting involved in the sub-committees or just want more details about the event come to our meeting on Monday March 2nd in the SUA Office overlooking Quarry Plaza. Pizza will be provided.

Lets make this event a success and clean-up our beautiful campus!  Please contact Sammy Astrachan at sastrach [at] ucsc [dot] edu to get involved.

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Phantom trips" Hamper Low-Carbon Communities

UCSC's Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Adam Millard-Ball's latest article examines how standard practices in urban planning and traffic engineering cater to phantom trips that never materialize, and hamper efforts to create walkable, low-carbon communities. See the video below and read the coverage of the article at The Atlantic's CityLab.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Global Food Initiative and UCSC FSWG

The University of California is harnessing its resources to address one of the critical issues of our time: how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach 8 billion by 2025. Announced by President Napolitano in 2014, all UCs are contributing to the Global Food Initiative goals of:
  • Working together across the UC system to create solutions that improve food security, health, and sustainability throughout California, the U.S., and the world 
  • Identifying best practices to address food needs and create toolkits to share locally and globally 
  • Using the latest UC research to help communities access healthy, sustainable food 
  • Applying UC expertise to shape and drive food policy discussions 
Here at UCSC, we are the leading university in sustainable food -- so much so that we doubled our 2020 challenge of real food, from 20% to 40% after reaching the systemwide goal in 2012. To gain a better understanding of where the food movement on campus is headed, Alyssa Billys, a Global Food Initiative Fellow from the Food Systems Working Group (FSWG) sat down to give us an update, including ways to get involved, what she's been involved with, and what’s up with the Global Food Initiative. 


FSWG is a food justice organization on campus that works directly with the Farm and Dining. One way to get involved is participating with the Food System Learning Journeys offered four times a quarter through the Recreational Department. Just last week, one of the journeys visited a vineyard started by an alum from the Apprentice Program at the CASFS Farm where all workers are given sustainable wages of $15 an hour. The learning journeys also offer workshops with organizations like Program in Community & Agroecology (PICA) and the Demeter Library to connect the community with a hands-on understanding of our food systems. The main goal of these Food System Learning Journeys is to facilitate conversation around food while eating food to gain an awareness and understanding of what you are eating.


The Farm to Dining project aims to connect all the Dining Hall needs with the Farm so that the Farm can grow the exact poundage that Dining needs. This is the main purpose of the new Quarry plot field at CASFS. Alyssa has been the liaison to connect the Farm and Dining with Daryl Wong, the Farm Site and Research Lands Manager.

Additionally, an impressive $800,000 from UC Office of the President has also been distributed to all UCs to revamp and re-establish the Food Pantries, which are places for low-income students and students who rely on financial aid to purchase fresh food, canned food, and pick up food stamps. Our Food Pantry at UCSC is found at Family Student Housing.

“I think some people almost feel ashamed to purchase food from the Food Pantry but it’s not something that should be like that, where all university students are paying an astronomical amount of money to go to school here and over 50% of students skip a meal to save money. So how do we make it so our students aren’t hungry? So they have access to food and it’s healthy?”
 -- Alyssa Billys

To promote these opportunities, Alyssa, Damian Parr, CASFS Research and Education Coordinator, Jim Clark, CASFS videographer, and Brandon Blackburn, CASFS photographer, are currently working on experiential learning videos about internships and classes on the Farm as well as the Apprenticeship Program. To make these films possible, UCSC received a portion of $150,000 from UCOP; the money is split between all UCs for the production experiential learning videos. They are now filming!


An Agroecological Catalog is also being made to combine the knowledge of agriculture across all UCs to provide an accessible way to obtain research, project plans, and ideas systemwide about our food systems. Right now, Alyssa and Katie Monsen are working on the parameters of what the catalog should cover.

“For the Global Food Initiative, we should be looking out for how to get more students involved. This is an on-going process for the next 5-7 years. What other students want to get involved? It's a chance to be a part of the money transactions, be able to monitor how things are being used--it's not just faculty doing it but students empowering other students.” 
-- Alyssa Billys


The best way to connect with FSWG and the work they’re doing is to email ucscfswg [at] gmail [dot] com and express interest in wanting engage in the conversation and play a role in the Global Food Initiative.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Environmental Justice Undergraduate Field Experiences in the Amazon

Chris Kane is an undergraduate student at UCSC and Team Coordinator for the Zero Waste Team in the Sustainability Office. Over the summer, he participated in a field study abroad with Dr. Flora Lu, a professor of Environmental Studies and Provost of Colleges 9 & 10 at UCSC. Her research focuses on "social, political, and environmental effects of extractive industries on communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon and on the lives of its residents." Chris went to Ecuador last summer to join Dr. Lu in the field conducting research.


Click on this link to read about Chris' experiences with the Waorani tribes in Ecuador, who no longer have access to clean water and whose culture has been disappearing due to the ever-expanding oil industrial facilities.

Oakes Provost's House Retrofit

The following report is by Robert Jones, a member of the PowerSave Campus team as well as the Carbon Fund Student Facilitator within the Sustainability Office. The PowerSave Team retrofitted the Oakes Provost's House by replacing old, inefficient lightbulbs with new LED lights. 

"My team and I finished up the LED retrofit at the Oakes Provost house last week, and I, for one, am very happy with the results! The process of the retrofit didn’t go without a small hiccup, as expected with any project, but was nonetheless completed in only a couple of hours. Lesson learned; playing with light fixtures can cause faulty wires to trip the circuit breaker. If you’re going to work with lamps and electronics, make sure to be safe!

We ended up replacing a mixture of 17 fluorescents and incandescents with more efficient LEDs. The total expected savings over the LED’s lifetime is about 4,700 kWh. This is equivalent to saving about 1 ton of CO2 from going into the atmosphere. I highly recommend taking advantage of the simplicity and practicality of an LED retrofit. Minimal planning, installation time, and experience required to accomplish a LED retrofit make it one of the most effective ways to reduce energy consumption in a residential building.

As I look back on my experience working with Regina at her residence, the Oakes Provost house, I realize I have learned a lot. I will use what I’ve learned for future retrofits at other Provost residence homes, I hope! I now know what exactly to tell the Provosts what to expect in terms of timing, logistics, and how the actual retrofit will work. I’m looking forward to speaking with other UCSC Provosts that have homes on campus to see if they will be interested in having our team complete a retrofit at their home!"