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Monday, December 22, 2014

Workshop Proposal Deadline Dec. 22 for CA Higher Education Food Summit

You are invited to submit a workshop to the California Higher Education Food Summit 2015 from January 16th to January 18th!
This gathering will invite student government and organization leadership, staff program coordinators and directors, faculty and administrators as well as community food agency leadership to UC Santa Barbara to strengthen partnerships and share best practices to inform action steps toward fostering access, equity, and justice for all. The three day summit will include workshops, speakers, and activities of all levels for individuals to engage with critical issues while building skills and relationships to implement change on college campuses and in the surrounding communities. To register for the summit, visit this link.

Interested in submitting a workshop about food justice, equity, and access?
If you would like lead a workshop or discussion session, submit a proposal here. During the Summit, they are looking for ways in which participants can learn and engage in making a difference in their communities and would like to encourage interactive workshop sessions. Last day to submit is today, December 22nd at 11:59pm!

One of the goals of the Summit is to ensure participants are able to apply the knowledge and insights they gained throughout the weekend in the Sunday Action session. They will be choosing 3-4 actions at all levels to allow participants to create change. Some examples of actions would be a participant sharing their personal food journey on paper or video, signing a petition, participating in a town hall, or something that would move individual towards change. If you would like to submit an action, please contact Natalie Tran at nattran[at]ucsc[dot]edu.

For more information about the Summit, visit The organizers of the summit look forward to learning and creating change with you in January!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

TAPS Now Hiring Walk to Class Challenge Coordinator

Transportation and Parking Services is hiring a paid student intern as the Walk to Class Challenge Event Coordinator from January through late May, 2015. The Walk to Class Challenge is a peer-to-peer promotion to encourage walking as a viable, healthy, and sustainable form of transportation on our campus. The intern will be paid $10 per hour and will work approximately 10 hours per week. Main duties include developing and implementing a marketing and outreach plan to encourage more students to participate in the Walk to Class Challenge event in late April, 2015. Upper-class or student with two years experience at UCSC preferred.

For more information, please contact Teresa Buika, TAPS Planner, at tabuika[at]ucsc[dot]edu or 831-502-7941.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's getting hot in here

We’re in a pickle.

Our world is warming at an alarming rate. This means higher seas, more intense tropical storms, and an increased occurrence of droughts along with rising temperatures. And with positive feedback loops from methane gas release, receding sea ice, and decreased ability of primary producers to sequester carbon considered highly likely, it makes sense to peg the maximum allowable “global warming” at the low end of the safe spectrum so as to avoid triggering a cataclysmic tipping point.

The “2℃ limit” agreed upon by global governance has come under fire from scientists recently for being unattainable, misleading and of dubious utility to catalyze action. "Because it sounds firm and concerns future warming, the 2 °C target has allowed politicians to pretend that they are organizing for action when, in fact, most have done little," the authors of the critique write. "Pretending that they are chasing this unattainable goal has also allowed governments to ignore the need for massive adaptation to climate change."

I want to return to a previously posted quotation:
"The greater danger for us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark."
As prescient as Renaissance-man Michelangelo may have been, it is doubtful that he could have foreseen the existential threat facing humankind in our day and age. At the turn of the 16th century, theories such as a round world or a heliocentric solar system were still being vigorously debated, if not by scientists then still by the public. Beliefs change slowly, if at all. However, reason and empirical observation eventually won out, and few today would claim that the legion of scientists studying geography and astronomy are hoisting a hoax on the American public.
As for our changing climate, scientists have known about the "greenhouse effect", and the results that widespread combustion of fossil fuels would have on earth's climate, since before 1900. Global Warming made headlines in 1988 when NASA's Dr. James Hansen testified before the U.S. Congress as to the state of the science. "Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming." In more common parlance, we know what is going on. He added, "It is already happening now."

That same year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization to evaluate the physical science basis of climate change, with an eye to strategies for mitigation and adaptation. According to the IPCC, it is scientifically unequivocal that emissions from the extraction and use of fossil fuels are the number one cause of climate change.

According to numerous evaluations of the economics regarding the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change show that the benefits of strong and early action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change far outweigh the economic cost of not acting. However, the costs and benefits of action versus inaction are not evenly distributed around the world, with most of the costs of mitigation borne by developed nations and large GHG emitters, while the people most vulnerable to climate change's effects are often those who have contributed the least to the problem. In this context, it is essential to come to an equitable distribution of cost so that international action to arrest climate change can occur before it makes the earth uninhabitable.
IPCC projection of 2090-2099 temperature change from 1980-1999 baseline (Image source)

For over 25 years, however, no significant binding treaty has been ratified by the major emitters of the world. The Kyoto Protocol, conceived in 1997, mandated emissions reductions, but has fallen apart from a multitude of factors. The United States' (then the #1 GHG emitter) refused to ratify unless developing nations did, while developing nations (including now #1 emitter China) were exempted from binding targets. Without coordinated leadership on the part of major players, there is little hope of effective action.

The announcement is unambitious. The targets are close to business as usual. And the efforts don’t go nearly far enough to actually arrest global warming, says World Bank President Jim Yong-Kim. It is a non-binding commitment that could be erased with the stroke of a pen by a future U.S. or Chinese President.

For it’s flaws, it is a meaningful milestone in climate negotiations. When two of the economic powerhouses of the world come together to affirm that this is an issue that needs addressing from an international perspective, it sets the stage for coordinated joint sacrifice on a global scale. With this announcement, the top six largest economies by GDP (E.U., U.S., China, Japan, Germany, France, U.K.) have all pledged their commitment to tackling climate change. Pledges to the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund (to provide transition and adaptation assistance to industrializing nations) near $10 billion. And a Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Lima happening right now should set the stage for a binding deal at COP-21 in Paris, December 2015. It’s going to be a long, warm year.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Integral Group Plug-Load Study for New UCSC Coastal Biology Building

By: Samira Yitiz 

UCSC PowerSave Campus recently started collaborating with Integral Group from Oakland, CA on an equipment plug-load study. In this study we are measuring the energy usage of lab equipment in labs around Santa Cruz. The labs that are being studied are found in the Center of Oceanic Health, Earth and Marine Sciences, Thimann, Sinsheimer, and the Seymour Center. The equipment and labs at these locations are representative of what will be used in the new UC Santa Cruz Coastal Biology Building. The information attained from this study will be used to estimate the energy usage of the new building and to find ways to reduce plug load energy use and overall energy consumption of the new Coastal Biology Building. Lab equipment plug load is one of our campus’s biggest energy consumers so this project will identify areas in which we can make a change to better energy efficiency.

The whole team has been involved in installing and un-installing meters alongside Annie Mroz and Lindsey Gaunt from Integral Group. Kristiahn and I were involved in the installation of meters in a lab in Earth and Marine Sciences. We installed hobo meters on frequently used equipment such as power supplies, hot plates, refrigerators, and computers. Hobo loggers measure kilowatt hour usage by single phase equipment rated at greater than 15 amps. We will leave these meters on the equipment for at least one week to attain data that is representative of peak usage, weekends, and any other variation in usage. The hobo logger will be monitored the equipment during the thanksgiving holiday so it will be interesting to see the energy usage during unoccupied periods. We will also be installing meters in a controlled room, in this case a room used to store animal specimens that is representative of rooms that will be in the Coast Biology Building. All the data we collect will be given to Integral group so that they can properly assess the projected energy usage of the Coast Biology Building and be able to suggest energy efficient equipment and behaviors that could reduce the energy usage.

For more news related to energy efficiency on campus, visit the UCSC PowerSave website or like them on Facebook.  Contact powersave [at] googlegroups [dot] com for any questions, comments or concerns.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

WADR: Here, There, & Everywhere

Hi There,

My name is Nataly and I am the team coordinator for the fairly new Water Action & Drought Response (WADR) team. We've had a busy time this summer and fall working to conserve water use on our campus, and with the holiday that just passed and more on the way, I've been thinking about water use for not just myself but for my family and friends as well.

I'm a softball player. I started T ball at the age of 5 and was forced into softball as a third grader (I never liked all the cheers the girls did). After playing sports all my life until my graduation of high school, I had to take a break. After a few years of resting, changing hobbies, and losing strength, I started to feel the pull to get back into the sport I knew so well: softball. There were a few changes for our UCSC intramural league: slow pitch, new rules. But the more exciting thing for me was that it was co-ed, so I could play with friends no matter their gender. After playing a few seasons with the same team (Sluggers), I had to be the person to announce a big let down to my friends. This Fall of 2014, one of the teammates emailed everyone, getting the spirit up and directing everyone to the new set up of registration with OPERS. Unfortunately they hadn't heard about the closure of the field and suspension of softball, so I had to reply letting everyone know and suggested that maybe a different sport could be played. It's a sad thing when fields are closed and when play is restricted, but I know from my position on the WADR team that it was a tough decision that had to be made for the safety of us players and for the future of the game.

Here's what I know:

- Starting Spring 2014, UC Santa Cruz was asked to make a 25% reduction of water usage by the City of Santa Cruz.

- The campus cutback watering of the East Field by 55%!

- During the summer, the Upper Field lost a good portion of its turf due to reduced irrigation.

-To repair the field properly, the field was closed to reduce the wear and tear on it.

- While the field looks green and safe, most of the newer growth are weeds, or varieties of grasses that are not well suited for sports.

- Water rationing will be lifted after Santa Cruz reaches 12 inches of rain.

- Once the rationing is lifted, the Office of Physical Education, Recreation, and Sports (OPERS) will work with campus grounds to repair the field.

So... Plans changed, well... plans change.

Just like life changes, which it did in one major way when I came to school here at UCSC. I learned, I grew, I learned some more, and I practiced. I still practice integrating what I learn into my everyday life, and I can say affirmatively that things have change since I've moved to Santa Cruz. The biggest shock is when I go back home or travel. It's interesting how things are different. Sometimes it's frustrating. For my hometown of Long Beach, I wish they and other cities like it would pick up the slack when it comes to being mindful about our natural resources. I come from a background where 45 minutes showers are "natural". Sure, I learned how to take the quickie when in special circumstances, but life was an indulgence of water (without consciousness) back then.

What city are you from? 
This short article puts some things in perspective here in California, especially between the north and the south. Even more relevant to us individually, to you and to me, though, is our personal use. To calculate your water footprint, go here, and please take the pledge. We are already witnessing the effects of the drought. I feel like Mother Earth is calling us to action, but more than just a few need to respond. With a community consciousness of conservation we can significantly improve our environment and situation. This is an official call to action that I hope you accept and share.

California Water Consumption: Gallons Per Person Per Day

 If you have questions that I didn't answer about the field, you can contact:
Todd Hammonds (Associate Director of Facilities and Operations at OPERS) 
(831) 459-4378 or tmhammon [at] ucsc [dot] edu

For more information on the WADR Team, click here.

UC Divesting from Fossil Fuel

By Alden Phinney

Fossil Free UC (FFUC) is a student and stakeholder campaign to divest the UC from fossil fuels. In accordance with international efforts to arrest climate change, FFUC advocates that the UC freeze and drop investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies ranked by largest carbon reserves, and reinvest that money towards sustainable and just climate solutions.

If we intend to secure a habitable world for future generations, the "burn it all" business plans of energy corporations must not come to fruition. However, these companies' lobbying and influence are some of the leading obstacles to the enactment of restrictive legislation and a just transition to a low-carbon society. Fossil Free UC seeks to advance the clean energy economy by stigmatizing association with fossil fuel companies and reinvesting capital towards a just transition away from dirty energy.

FFUC is now concentrating on building campus and coalition power across the state, as well as advocating within the UC system to ensure the Environmental Social Governance investing framework is more bite than hype. They are working with Academic Senates to craft resolutions endorsing divestment from fossil fuels and start the conversation among pensioners regarding what their investments are supporting. Get involved by signing a petition at (or faculty open letter if applicable), liking them on Facebook, or coming to Fossil Free UC's meetings on Fridays at 3:30 in the International Living Center apartment 5204! If you have any questions, comments, or want to get involved, don't hesitate to email aphinney [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

Alden Phinney is the Sustainability Office Climate Action Analyst through the Chancellor's Undergraduate Internship Program; a member of the Campus Sustainability Council; and a coordinator for Fossil Free UC Santa Cruz.

Sustainability Office Hiring for Winter

The Sustainability Office is currently hiring for winter quarter. Please help us spread the word by sharing these images and information via social media channels or email. If you have questions, please contact the staff supervisors listed on the applications, linked below.

Water Positions Available in the Sustainability Office: Deadline December 4
The Water Action and Drought Response (WADR) Team is dedicated to water conservation and aids UCSC in meeting water rationing goals during this time of drought. They work directly with water fixtures to assess and report for changes, and with student and University staff to promote wise water practices and educate about the seriousness of the drought. The WADR Team is looking for two new students to join a four-person team starting winter quarter. The deadline to apply is December 4, and interviews will happen the following week. View the requirements and application on the Employee Request system here (ER 7324).

The Sustainability Office is looking for an exceptional leader to oversee the Green Office Certification Program. Lead a team of students to work with staff across campus to improve their business practices and to adopt sustainable behaviors. Full job description and application are available on the UCSC Employment Request system here (ER 6682).

Advocate for Sustainable Development in West Campus Housing Study

Want to advocate for sustainable development at UCSC? The campus is embarking on a UCSC Future Campus Housing Study to define a plan that will guide the development and redevelopment of student housing facilities over the next ten years. The November workshop presentation is available here, and there will also be future opportunities to share your input.

Sign up for email updates here to get details about the study, including ways to get involved and share your opinions. The next workshops will be held February 3rd and 4th, 2015 at the University Center.

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 2014 Sustainability Profile: Peggy Delaney

Each month, our newsletter features a person or group on campus that is working toward a more sustainable world. This month features Peggy Delaney, Vice Chancellor of Planning and Budget for UCSC. She serves on the University of California's wholesale power board, which recently successfully coordinated and advocated for the largest purchase of solar energy by any university in the United States. Though this doesn't mean you're going to see more solar panels on campus, this agreement "will allow the university’s campuses served by the Wholesale Power Program to receive energy that is 60 percent sourced from renewable supply" (UC Press Room). UC Santa Cruz is one of those campuses.

We interviewed Peggy Delaney to learn more about her role in this and how her work on campus supports sustainability efforts.

Education: Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography. B.S. in chemistry from Yale University.

How are you involved with campus energy management and sustainability? 
I'm the Vice Chancellor of Planning and Budget, which includes working with the budget office, capital management, and UC system-wide efforts. I serve in several roles that help UCSC advance its sustainability initiatives. I am the campus representative to the wholesale power board, which advises the newly-formed Energy Services Unit at UC Office of the President. This board works to help campuses become “direct access” customers, allowing campuses to purchase energy through the quasi-power company created by the UC system. In addition to working with the board, I also serve on the Global Climate Leadership Council that President Napolitano initiated to support the UC goal for all campuses to become Carbon Neutral by 2025.

I've been a fan of the Sustainability Office for a long time. I helped with the Office's funding request on its way to the Executive Vice Chancellor's desk. Many of the building projects that I'm involved with through capital management are designed by LEED-certified colleagues. I also helped with the co-generation plant replacement project, which generates power for our campus on-site.

We are excited to learn about the recent purchase of enough solar electricity to allow the UC to supply 206,000 megawatt-hours per year of solar energy to California's electrical grid. What was your role in helping the system increase its renewable energy portfolio?
The wholesale power board that I serve on was instrumental in this process. There is a lot of complex and technical energy background needed to participate on this board, so I have been learning a lot from Patrick Testoni, UCSC's Energy Manager, and Henry Salameh, Director of Physical Plant. Right now is an outstanding time to move forward with this purchase because we were able to take advantage of a tax credit that will soon expire. The board agreed with the Energy Service Unit to take advantage of this, and the board even agreed to purchase a higher percentage of renewables than is required by law. In 2016 the renewable energy access will go live and will supply 20% of campus electricity with solar power!

What is your long-term vision for sustainability at UCSC?
I'm an oceanographer focused on paleoceanography, the study of the history of our oceans, so long-term climate changes are something I have been thinking about for a long time. When thinking about sustainability at UCSC, I think with both parts of my brain--my academic self knowing that we need to tackle climate change and the financial, budget-management self saying we seemingly can't afford to do that. We must integrate sustainability on our campus in a financially sustainable way.

Fortunately, we're doing that already with things like the Integrated Climate and Energy Study. In the mid-2000s, people in my field of research began discussing managing oceans as a whole ecosystem, and the campus is like this, too, an ecosystem. Sustainability work is in the process of going from the individual level to system-wide, and our campus has been doing this for a long time, understanding the University organization as a whole and incorporating sustainability throughout.

What are some ways students can support President Napolitano's "Carbon Neutral by 2025" directive?
There's not any medium sized entity in the world that has actually achieved carbon neutrality. Those places that are close or call themselves carbon neutral require manufacturers to take away their packaging and shipping waste. This kind of work requires a systemic approach; we're dealing with the largest geophysical experiment in history and there are enormous social justice inequities. Those who are causing emissions are not around to feel those effects, and many places in the world cannot afford for us all to reach that level of emissions. It's an intergenerational and diverse challenge.

Often, students are enthusiastic in approaching these challenges, and they can bring creativity and an ability to think differently. This challenge we're facing is huge, but it's not intractable. Students and young people can keep this issue in the forefront of the political world and insure we continue to work to solve it.

When did you first become interested in environmental sustainability issues? 
I first became interested in these issues in the early '80s because my field of research looks at the past climate of the oceans, so those of us studying this topic were thinking of this topic already. Back then, we didn't even recycle paper on campus, so I sent around a polite but somewhat cranky memo asking why we couldn't do that. I also taught a global change course that explored the potency of humans as actors on the geophysical scale. It can be hard to connect small actions to changes in our climate, but we have to have traction in understanding those relationships in order to solve these issues.

If you had one piece of "green" advice to give people, what would it be?
Our experiment with carbon dioxide on the atmosphere is enormous and the most pressing environmental issue of our time because it is also a social inequity issue. We can't allow politics to get in the way, and we need the will to implement the solutions we already have.

Is there anything else you would like the students to learn about you or our campus sustainability initiatives?
There are so many ways for students to engage with these issues at UC Santa Cruz. There are funding opportunities and programs in place to allow students to participate in the operations of our campus. Students can benefit academically while also influencing UCSC long after they have graduated and moved on.

McHenry Library Goes Zero Waste

Just this month, the largest library on campus took a huge step toward furthering their sustainability. As part of a collaborative pilot program between Grounds, the Sustainability Office, Custodial Services, and the Library, more than 40 four-stream waste stations will be set up throughout McHenry Library for trash, paper, contained recyclables, and compostable waste. McHenry is demonstrating the first comprehensive zero waste collection system on campus, which can set the example for the rest of our campus buildings.

McHenry Library has made reducing waste more accessible throughout the building. An announcement in the University Library News reads, “Collection containers will be provided throughout the library to accept all recyclables, trash as well as compostable materials. Desk side collection bins have been modified to accept compostable materials and recyclable paper. This change is a crucial step toward meeting the UC Office of the President’s goal of reaching 'Zero Waste' by the year 2020.”
Christian Monzon (above), a junior double majoring in Environmental Studies and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, has worked in the Sustainability Office since last year. He is the McHenry Zero Waste Pilot Project Coordinator and hopes UCSC will become the first zero waste campus in California, setting an example for other UCs.

"I am excited about this project because it is an essential step in moving towards our Zero Waste Goal by 2020. I think that students and campus users have the desire to properly sort and dispose of their waste but it can often be confusing, especially since our waste collection is fairly inconsistent across campus,” shares Monzon.
In addition to improperly sorted waste and recycling on campus, one of the largest pieces of the waste pie at UCSC is compostable material, such as food scraps, used paper towels, and Bioware cups, plates, and utensils. These items shouldn’t be going to the landfill in the first place, but there currently isn’t a campuswide solution for composting. This is why the McHenry Library pilot is integrating compost into the waste stream, and the goal is to eventually phase composting into more and more locations on campus.

“Ideally, this project will begin setting the standard for waste collection on campus and will facilitate waste disposal for all students and campus users. This project has a lot of potential to create positive change on this campus and I am excited to be involved in refining our waste management system,” says Monzon.

He assures us that a more detailed update on the project will be released through the Zero Waste Team in the near future.

April 2014 Waste Data
This waste data demonstrates only the materials found in trash dumpsters on campus; it does not include recycling or compost containers. Notice that only 30% of what was actually in the dumpster on its way to the landfill was actually trash--everything else could have been diverted as compost or recycling! 

This is an exciting step toward reaching our sustainability goals because if the pilot project goes well, it is possible that we’ll see zero waste collection streams throughout campus. Besides McHenry Library, you can also find compost bins in the Humanities 1 building, all dining halls, and the Owl’s Nest. Slowly but surely, we’re making composting more accessible on campus!

Email zerowasteucsc [at] gmail [dot] com with any questions, suggestions, or comments about the new collection program, and stay tuned for updates.

Read this week's Tuesday Newsday article about this project here: "Composting bins promote a handy diversion toward 2020 zero-waste goal."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Youth Empowerment for Transformative Food Systems

by Adriana Murguia

Food insecurity, chronic poverty, and outmigration plague coffee growing communities in Latin America. Rural youth find farming livelihoods as unviable and search for a wage elsewhere. In response to these problems, the Community Agroecology Network (CAN) facilitates agroecology-based food security projects in its "AgroEco" coffee sites to create viable economic opportunities to reverse the trend of youth leaving their communities to find work elsewhere. An opportunity to connect with young people from these communities is taking place in February, and volunteers are needed to make the Intercambio (Exchange) a success.

In 2011, the Youth Network for Food Security and Food Sovereignty (Jovenes SSAN) formed to promote youth leadership opportunities in order to involve younger generations in creating transformative food systems. The youth network has expanded from its coffee sites in Nicaragua and Mexico and has included university students from Veracruz and Quintana Roo. Connecting and training youth leaders across multiple project initiatives deepens knowledge and capacity, creating beneficial exchange and innovation within each of the associated communities. The youth network comes together annually as an 8 day conference known as Intercambio (Exchange), which has become a platform for knowledge exchange on strategies and models for achieving food sovereignty. A similar food security initiative is being developed in Santa Cruz. Last spring (2014) FoCAN held a local intercambio, “Beyond Organic,” in which they brought multiple workers in the food systems into one panel. This year's Intercambio will take place February 13-20, 2015.

The Youth Network has had four annual exchanges and two regional exchanges. After participating in the Intercambio, youth leaders have expressed a strong desire to continue expanding the youth network, receive more training in agroecology, and build stronger national and international ties. 

Interested in volunteering during their stay in Santa Cruz? 
Volunteers will be needed to prepare meals, shop for food, set up and clean up events, and provide translations during Intercambio, which will take place February 13-20, 2015. To sign up to volunteer this year, please follow this link.

Questions? Email focan [at] ucsc [dot] edu


Adriana Murguia is the Intercambio Coordinator for Friends of Community Agroecology Network. Last year, she was a Provost's Sustainability Intern for the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems Real Food Project.

Friday, November 21, 2014

December 2014 Green Tip: Have a Sustainable Holiday

Looking for a way to give back to Mother Earth while you're in the holiday giving mood? We can all enjoy these sustainable treats and tips no matter what we are celebrating this season.

Sustainable Holiday Meals:

Want to enjoy delicious wintertime foods without as many greenhouse gas emissions as usual? Whip up these yummy recipes for friends and family—they won’t even know the difference!

Traditional Style Vegan Shepherd's Pie
Featuring vegan mayonnaise, soy milk, and vegan cream cheese in place of chicken   and cow products, this recipe for shepherd’s pie will convince you that you really do live in a cozy farmhouse with a flock of sheep! But really, this sounds delicious, and it’s a warm dish to serve on a chilly day!

Visit for the recipe!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Apple Cider Reduction 

The title of this recipe is 100% wintertime deliciousness, and it’s completely vegan! Using vegan cream cheese, tofu, and soy milk in place of cow milk products, it can be sweetened with agave nectar and it’s spiced with cinnamon, arrowroot, nutmeg, agar, and pumpkin.

Learn how to make it on the Sierra Club website  here.

Seeking more sustainable holiday meals? Visit the Huffington Post’s “5 Sustainable Courses for a Healthy Holiday Meal” here.

Green Party Planning:

Hosting a party over the break? Integrate sustainable choices into your planning to reduce waste and educate friends and family about environmental conservation.
  • Send e-cards or look for greetings made with recycled content (the more post-consumer content, the better)
  • Set the table with cloth napkins, reusable plates and reusable utensils to reduce waste going to landfills. Compostable options are second best—but only if you live somewhere that collects compost!
  • Turn down the heat and bundle up. As your guests arrive, turn down the thermostat and let your guests’ body heat naturally warm the room.
  • If your party features gift opening, try to salvage reusable materials and then recycle the rest (unless your gift wrap is shiny and non-recyclable). Remove tape, ribbons and other decorations before tossing in the recycle bin.
  • If possible, compost food scraps. If not, toss them in the trash instead of washing them down the disposal to save water. 
  • Since you’re using reusable dishes and utensils, be sure you aren’t wasting water (after all, we’re in a drought!) Use just a little water to get your sponge soapy and wet and then turn off the faucet while scrubbing. Put them in the dishwasher, or fill the sink or a tub with water to rinse instead of running the faucet.

Find more green party tips online at Mother Nature Network and

Thanks for reading! Now it’s your turn: How do you make your annual wintertime traditions more kind to the planet?

December 2014: Contests & Funding

Measure 43: Deadline December 10
Measure 43 funding is available for UCSC undergraduate research and education programs related to sustainable food, health and wellness. The application deadline is December 10, 2014. For more information and to apply, visit the websiteMeasure 43 will ensure that all undergraduate students have access to education and programs that enhance their understanding of the food system and their food choices, and that increase opportunities for classes, workshops, “learning journeys,” hands-on gardening experiences, and other campus activities.

Race to Zero Student Design Competition: Deadline December 15
Open to students and faculty in the U.S. and Canada, this competition, formerly known as the Challenge Home Student Design Competition, poses teams with a specific design problem and requires either a redesign of an existing floor plan or creation of a new house design that satisfies the project requirements. Learn more and apply here.

Energy Dept $1M Funding Opportunity for University Research: Deadline December 19
This funding opportunity makes available competitive, 2-year cooperative agreements for teams at U.S.based institutions of higher education to research and develop innovative building energy efficiency technologies. Submission deadline for concept papers is December 19. To apply, visit the website.

CSSC Zero Waste Mini-Grant Program: Deadline January 16
In partnership with World Centric, the California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC) will be providing mini-grants to selected campus projects in spring 2015 to develop and/or scale student-generated zero waste solutions. In early and mid-December, informational webinars and 1-1 calls will be scheduled to provide applicants detailed information and assist with project strategy development. Applications are due January 16. Learn more here.

Sustainability Teaching Activities: Deadline January 20
Submissions are now being accepted for the peer-reviewed and edited book “Learner-Centered Teaching Activities for Environmental and Sustainability Studies.” Instructors are invited to submit descriptions of novel, easy to implement and engaging in-class activities. To be considered for publication, contributions must be submitted by January 20, 2015. Learn more here.

December 2014: Innovative Approaches to Sustainability at Other Campuses

Here are a few selections of the innovative approaches to sustainability taking place on other college campuses. Each of these examples was chosen because they represent ideas that UCSC could potentially implement in some form, or in some cases, already has begun to. If you see something here that you want to make a reality at UCSC, contact the Sustainability Office [at] ucsc [dot] edu and we will help you direct your ideas toward fruition!

UCLA Creates Nation’s Largest Self-Replenishing Fund For Green Projects 
UCLA is the 46th institution in the nation to join the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, which encourages colleges and universities to create their own sustainability-focused revolving funds — pools of money that are continually replenished when loan recipients return some or all of their cost savings each year. Now, the savings from energy efficiency and other projects will fund future projects. UC Santa Cruz has a Green Revolving Loan Fund that’s similar to this, which you can learn more about on our website or by emailing Chrissy at cthomure [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

Students’ ‘Feeding Forward’ Fights Hunger, Food Waste
A student at UC Berkeley has created a "Feeding Forward" website, a food-recovery platform that connects organizations that have surplus perishable food with social agencies that feed the hungry. More than 400 donor groups — including Cal Dining, Cal Catering and scores of Bay Area restaurants — are currently registered on the site, along with some 100 recipient nonprofits. More than a half-million pounds of food have been recovered since the platform’s launch spring 2013.

Pomona College Diverts 23 Tons From Landfill and Saves Students Money
Pomona College has a "Clean Swap" that goes through the residence halls collecting items left behind by students after move-out. Last May, the student team collected 23 tons of used appliances, dorm furnishings, books and other items. In the fall, those items were offered for sale at discounted prices to students, raising more than $9,500 for sustainability programs. Operation Clean Sweep began as a pilot project in 2007 and recovered 17 tons of items. Over its eight-year span, the program is estimated to have diverted more than 150 tons of material from landfills, saved students thousands of dollars and helped a number of local charities. UC Santa Cruz has zero-waste move out stations at all of the colleges each spring that include donation bins for unwanted items. We also have a surplus store, which you can learn more about here.

Indiana State University to Host Community Sustainability Contest 
The event kicks off with a poster competition for students in kindergarten through college. Students will be divided into groups based on their ages and will be given a sustainability-related question that they will have to answer using a poster. What a great way to connect college students with the local community through art and sustainability!

Flintstones Meets the Jetsons: Solar Powered Pedal Car at Bridgewater College
At the cost of $6,000 and load capacity of 150 pounds, the ELF (Electric, Light, Fun) vehicle, gifted by alumni, is now used by students as part of the campus' student-operated recycling program. The vehicle requires solar, a corresponding range of 15 miles, and/or human power to operate.

U Illinois Proposes Bike Fee 
A recent referendum proposed a $1 student-initiated bike fee that would be slated for creating better bike infrastructure, safety courses and education. What do you think about this idea? At UC Santa Cruz, all sustainable transportation services provided by TAPS are subsidized by parking fees--which ultimately means that to continue to have free bike shuttles, loop buses, and other programs, people have to keep buying parking permits. Would this be a possible partial funding solution here?

Why care about climate?

by Alden Phinney 

I stood watching glaciers crack and calve with a horrendous crash into bright blue swirling seas. It was summer in Alaska, around 80℉ (approximately 26℃), and I was on the deck of a monstrous cruise ship in Glacier Bay. Glacier Bay was named for its monolith of ice that once extended to the mouth of the sea. They estimate that by this summer no ice will touch the water in Glacier Bay.
(Image source)
Over the loudspeaker, a National Park Ranger droned on about how “man-made global warming is a force outside our control”. I literally shouted “WHAT?!” to the heavens, and earned a couple of sideways glances from passengers trying to enjoy what remains of the great outdoors.

Climate change is a big and complex problem, no doubt. The rapid warming of the planet is arguably the most potent existential threat that our species and civilization has ever faced. But to argue that the problems of humankind are outside of humankind’s control was defeatist at best. To perpetuate this fallacy to the consumptive class most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions was appalling. The Ranger was preaching to a myopic choir singing slogans of American exceptionalism in the face of impending catastrophe.

We must be the change we intend to see in the world. In the face of climate change, we must pursue effective, equitable and bold action if we wish to live up to the United States’ mantle of a global leader. Continuing to advance the comfortable status quo at the expense of future generations is unconscionable. We are saddling our children with a debt repayable in war, droughts and famines.

I was disgusted by the gluttony, but more so by the apathy. Though the public discourse is rife with climate denial, the scientific consensus is settled. (Aggregate) global warming is occurring, is accelerating, and threatens every facet of human existence. However, it’s not all doom and gloom; according to the United Nations, the worst effects of climate change can still be avoided if governments quickly enact aggressive Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reductions.

So when the world must set binding targets for GHG emissions, we should make every effort and sacrifice to be bold, to think forward and systemically, rather than backwards about the extractive industries that have driven economic growth for so long.
"The greater danger for us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark." - Michelangelo
Interested in learning more about climate action, climate justice or fossil fuel divestment at UCSC? Like Fossil Free UCSC on Facebook, check out the homepage of the Fossil Free campaign, or feel free to send me an email at aphinney [at] ucsc [dot] edu.


Alden Phinney is the Sustainability Office Climate Action Analyst through the Chancellor's Undergraduate Internship Program; a member of the Campus Sustainability Council; and a coordinator for Fossil Free UC Santa Cruz.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Assessment Criteria for Green Labs Certification Program

The UC Santa Cruz Sustainability Office's Green Labs program is proud to announce the implementation a new of a new scorecard for their certification program on campus, which promotes sustainability in our research labs. The Green Labs certification program rewards research labs that continuously practice sustainability in their work and encourage these practices throughout the year. In collaboration with other UC Green Labs programs throughout the UC system, a new detailed set of assessment criteria has been created in order to properly certify on-campus labs. After a walk-through and assessment based on this criteria, labs that have met sustainable standards are granted a Green Labs certification.

The new assessment has made drastic improvements to ensure proper certification, evaluating such criteria as proper waste disposal, water management, and sustainable lab protocol (i.e closing fume hoods when not in use, decreasing plug loads). The goals of the new certification process are not only to acknowledge current sustainable practices in labs, but also to suggest improvements and recommend new sustainable practices. By offering lab sustainability guidelines and feedback, the program directly supports campus sustainability goals related to waste, water and energy reductions.


Through the original assessment criteria used in the past couple of years, the Green Labs programs has certified two labs on campus. Their goals for the coming year are to outreach and certify as many labs as possible. Labs that become certified will soon be eligible for certification incentives (e.g. equipment upgrades) in the coming year. Using the new assessment process, the Green Labs team hopes to be efficient and effective when certifying labs and create a trend among campus to pursue environmentally sustainable practices.

If you work in a lab on campus and would like to speak with a Green Labs team member, please email Lily at lurmann [at] ucsc [dot] edu. To learn more about the program, please visit their website.

December 2014: Classes, Training, and Community

Student Sustainability Advisors
Need another way to stay up to date with sustainability related information, news and events? The Student Sustainability Advisors are a resource to residential life staff in the colleges, as well as students, staff, and faculty who wish to learn more about sustainability at UCSC. They just got a new Facebook page--give the page a like to further connect with the sustainability community.

Join PICA for the last garden workday of fall quarter! On Saturday, December 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., meet in the A-quad of the Village for a free garden grown lunch before Winter Break begins.

The UCSC Holiday Food Drive Team is dedicated to making a difference in our community by helping to provide healthy meals to our neighbors in need. In the holiday spirit of giving, the Second Harvest Food Drive has already begun to collect donations on campus. Every dollar donated provides four meals, and donations can be made here. Students can also donate meals or Flexi dollars at every Dining Hall. Every meal that is donated gives nine meals to people in our community. Canned food donations can also be made at Safeway on Mission Street and other areas around town. Please consider donating to those who would otherwise not have a meal this holiday season.
Part of conservation is planting! In the past 50 years, the Arboretum has grown from a small field of Eucalyptus trees to 143 acres featuring plants from the World's Mediterranean climates and a large and growing collection of California Natives. These gardens support researchers from all over the world. Take a tour and come explore the world, learn about the collection and be inspired about the natural world! These gardens and plant material have supported research on native bees, swallows, genetic lineage of flowering plants, and helped conserve native succulents through-out California where they were once lost. For more information, visit the website.

Winter Quarter: Collaborative Learning for Sustainable Communities & Reclaiming the Commons
The second quarter in the Collaborative Learning course series focuses on intergenerational learning in service of building thriving, just, and sustainable communities locally and globally. The class will discuss Sustainable Communities, Ecovillages and Reclaiming the Commons through guest lectures, intergenerational dialogue, and engagement with long-term projects. Enrollment is now open! To learn more, please contact instructor Christine King at chlking [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

Winter Quarter: Transformative Action
Do you want to learn more about yourself and how you can engage -- in a positive way -- with the world around you? Are you looking for a different type of experiential course? Transformative Action focuses on key skills for effective transformation agents including: creativity and innovation; transformative communication; servant leadership; optimism and resilience, risk taking, initiative; luck; failure; and relationship building. Students create their own portfolio and commit to weekly civic engagement projects. Enrollment is now open!

The 16th Annual Agroecology Shortcourse will explore the roots of agroecology as a global movement as well as a science and a practice from July 12-25, 2015. Santa Cruz offers the ideal context to examine historical and current issues of social and environmental equity and sustainability that agroecology movements confront all over the world. The course aims to introduce agroecology and strategically connect the diverse and powerful agroecology experiences and movements active worldwide and create a collective overarching view of the current global situation. The course will end with a vision of how to better facilitate cross-fertilization across agroecology movements and overcome obstacles to convergence. For more information, contact can.shortcourse [at] gmail [dot] com or visit the website.

Free Phenology Workshop - Nature's Calendar: December 13
Juliet Oshiro, UC Santa Cruz Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, is hosting workshops designed to introduce participants to the science of phenology--the study of seasonal cycles of plants and animals--and how it's used to track the effects of climate change on diverse landscapes. If you want to help researchers gather data on climate change, come to this workshop and learn how to observe/collect data on native plants through the seasons for a national database that is used by researchers to study climate change. This is important research as it will teach us how plants behavior are impacted by climate change and will help inform future land management practices. For more information about phenology, visit the Arboretum website. This workshop will take place December 13 at 2 p.m. in Horticulture II. Event details here.

"Cultivating a Daily Revolution" Winter Course
Friends of Community Agroecology Network's "Cultivating a Daily Revolution" is a discussion-based class with internship opportunities, hands-on activities, and guest speakers. Winter quarter speakers include Andrew Szazs for "Grassroot Organizing" and Jeff Bury "Research in Indigenous Communities." The course is recommended for anyone interested in furthering their understanding of sustainable food systems and social movements. For more information, contact FoCAN [at] ucsc [dot] edu or visit the website.

22 units and 3 organizations aren't enough for you? Consider taking FREE classes on Climate Change and Sustainable Development online. Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), is a free online education platform created to advance the field of sustainable development in all regions of the world. Questions? Email edu [at] unsdsn [dot] org or visit their website.

International University & College Campus Sustainability Listserv
Inspired by the Making Universities Sustainable Conference in Copenhagen 2014, this list is for the international university community to discuss sustainability issues and solutions. The aim is to provide a global network for sharing best practices in the field of sustainability and its application to university operations.

Maui Wowi: Food Systems, Agriculture, and Outdoor Adventure Spring Break Trip
Though this is fall quarter, registration is open (and will fill) for the annual experiential learning and food system engagement spring break trip. Join the Food Systems Working Group & Rec Department on Maui to explore traditional food and farming sites, explore different aspects of culture, and adventure into bamboo forests, ranch lands, and marine sanctuaries to explore the ecological aspects of the island. This trip will also include a 2 unit Environmental Studies internship in winter quarter to prepare the group for different concepts and frameworks of food system engagement they will explore in March. Sign up on the OPERS Recreation website this quarter to reserve your spot!

A new program launching in fall 2015 will immerse students from across the UC system in the outdoor classrooms of the UC Natural Reserve System. The NRS Field Quarter Program will give students opportunities to closely observe California habitats, practice hands-on field research, and gain a deeper understanding of the natural world. California Ecology and Conservation will be the only course students enroll in for the term, and it yields a full complement of quarter units. As they visit up to six of the 39 reserves in the NRS, students will master standard field techniques and get to know a broad range of California habitats, climate regimes, and species. The deadline is February 2, 2015 and instruction begins in the Fall. Visit the website for more information.

PICA Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop
PICA will be hosting a fruit tree pruning workshop with Orin Martin of the Alan Chadwick Garden sometime soon. The date hasn't been set yet, but if you're interested in learning more, please email PICA Outreach Coordinator Kelsey Jones at kemjones [at] ucsc [dot] edu for more information.

This gathering will invite student government and organization leadership, staff program coordinators and directors, faculty and administrators as well as community food agency leadership to UC Santa Barbara to strengthen partnerships and share best practices to inform action steps toward fostering access, equity, and justice for all. The three day summit will include workshops, speakers, and activities of all levels for individuals to engage with critical issues while building skills and relationships to implement change on college campuses and in the surrounding communities. For more information about the Summit, visit or contact Crystal Owings at cowings [at[ ucsc [dot] edu.

The Program in Community and Agroecology welcomes all UCSC students, staff and faculty to their Saturday Garden Workdays. You can learn how to grow your own food and enjoy fun and a fabulous garden fresh lunch. In the winter, the workdays will be Saturdays January 17, 24 and 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Meet in the A-quad of the Village. Come learn how to garden and share in a communal garden grown lunch!