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Archive for August, 2012

Free Bicycle Safety Course Available Now

August 29th, 2012 @ 3:09 pm by Camille Kirk

The following guest post comes from Leslie Mancebo, the Transportation Demand & Marketing Coordinator at UC Davis Transportation & Parking Services:

BEEP!

Two bicyclists on the path between campus and Russell Boulevard in Davis. Notice the rider wearing a helmet; that's smart, safe biking!

Many of us who travel regularly around campus have witnessed a bike accident, unsafe bicycling behavior or have been in an accident ourselves and many of us avoid the busier bike paths on campus during the first couple weeks of fall quarter each year. This year, TAPS is making an effort to improve the culture of bike safety at UC Davis by providing a free, online bike safety course.

Since last year’s launch of the Bicycle Education and Enforcement Program (BEEP), nearly 90% of those who have been issued bicycle citations have successfully completed the online bike safety course.  Those who have been issued a $200+ citation have plenty of motivation to take the course, but a lesser known fact is that anyone can take the online course, any time, for free.  TAPS is gearing up to heavily promote the bike safety course to new students this fall and we would like to invite you to refresh your bike safety knowledge as well.

The course is set up in two parts: an informational video followed by an “open note” quiz. The video is about 18 minutes long and though it was filmed in the early 1990’s, the clothes and hairstyles are just about the only thing out of date as the lessons are still important today (navigating a round-about). The video focuses on teaching how to avoid accidents and how to prevent injury if an accident is unavoidable. The quiz presents multiple choice and true/false questions about bicycle laws and safe cycling techniques. I found the quiz to be of moderate difficulty and especially insightful because you receive feedback explaining each answer.  The entire course takes about 35-45 minutes to complete and I found it to be worth every minute.

To access the BEEP bike safety video, you may visit http://bikesafety.ucdavis.edu. You can log in using your Kerberos ID or by creating a username and password (for those not affiliated with the University). You may skip the section of the log in process that asks for your citation information if you are taking the course for educational purposes.

 

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Bioresources Symposium: Turning Organic Wastes into Renewable Energy

August 20th, 2012 @ 7:46 am by Camille Kirk

Photograph of digester tanks and piping

Right now, figuring out how to get renewable energy from organic materials is hot, hot, hot!

At UC Davis, we have a pilot biodigester, using technology developed by Professor Ruihong Zhang, which has resulted in a spin-off company, Clean World Partners (CWP). CWP has developed a scalable system for biodigesters, and UC Davis is working with CWP on a biodigester which would allow us to transform some of our “waste” into energy.

We are not the only ones interested in this technology: To that end, UC Davis Extension is presenting the 7th Annual California Bioresources Alliance Symposium on September 11-12, 2012, 8:30am-5:00pm, at the California EPA Building on I Street in Sacramento.

This conference will focus on how to evaluate which waste conversion systems are most effective, and where organic waste conversion can be best integrated for production of biogas from biosolids, food processing residuals, and other wastes.

Session topics include:

  • Bioresources policy and institutional issues
  • Economics of digesters
  • Evaluating the alternatives for the future
  • Evaluating alternatives for today
  • Urban residuals to power and fuel
  • Forestry products and fire ravaged lands reclamation

On the second afternoon, attendees will tour facilities operated by Clean World Partners, and see biodigesters convert organic waste to renewable energy, soil amendments, and other useful byproducts.

Registration is open through UC Davis Extension, and is $175, which includes morning refreshments, lunch on Tuesday, September 11 and the field trip on Wednesday, September 12. Student enrollment is $35 (valid student ID is required at check-in).

 

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Sustainable Development for the 21st Century: The Role of the Modern University

August 17th, 2012 @ 3:20 pm by Camille Kirk

The guest post below comes to us from Paul Dorn, Director of Marketing & Communications for the College of Engineering, UC Davis. Paul is also an extraordinary bike commuter, and has written The Bike to Work Guide. Below, he shares information about an upcoming conference that will directly demonstrate the link between higher education and sustainability.

 

UC Davis Solar Panel Installation

Solar panel installation in the parking lot of the Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis in 2011

The College of Engineering at UC Davis is sponsoring a free one-day conference, Sustainable Development for the 21st Century: The Role of the Modern University, on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at the UC Davis Conference Center, located near Mondavi Center on the university campus. The event is free, but requires online registration.

According to Diran Apelian, an organizer of the Sustainable Development conference and a visiting faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at UC Davis, the event will offer a great opportunity to address sustainability across a widevariety of interconnected disciplines. “Technology, by itself, cannot do the job,” says Apelian. “Sustainable development requires a holistic, inclusive blend of education, technology/innovation, and public policy/political cooperation.”

Too often, according to Apelian, many sustainability challenges are regarded as distinct, separate topic, when in fact they are all components of a needed systemic approach to sustainable development. A healthy population requires affordable nutrition; optimal food production relies upon availability of water and energy; climate change and energy use are affected by population growth and availability of renewable sources of energy; and housing and shelter must address local and community needs.

“UC Davis is well positioned for a leadership role in providing implementable solutions for a sustainable future,” says Apelian. “With a wealth of achievement in agricultural and biological sciences, UC Davis will be at the heart of assuring the future of food, water, and healthcare. UC Davis offers — across the entire United States — the perfect setting for productive information exchange and advancement, toward a better and more sustainable future.”

 

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Super Cool!

August 14th, 2012 @ 4:18 pm by Camille Kirk

#1 Cool School UC DavisToday, Sierra magazine released their 2012 Cool Schools results, and UC Davis ranked #1! So, we are the Coolest School. Officially.

Wow! That’s fun! This is a nice honor in our field.

We are really proud of our campus for achieving this ranking. Thank you to everyone—students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends—who’ve made decisions and taken actions that helped our campus to get to this point.

This year, the sixth time Sierra has run this survey, they changed their methodology to use the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. STARS asks many questions about dozens of sustainability metrics; it’s an extensive survey and probably the most comprehensive one we’ve ever completed. Participating in Cool Schools this year has given us a chance to perform one of the most complete assessments of our work in sustainability to date.

Winning the #1 ranking is great—it really is—but it is even better to be able to look at the progress we’ve made, identify areas for further work, and plan for next steps.

Let’s celebrate this year and keep moving forward. Here’s to yet more innovation and implementation!

Read more about our award and watch a fun “video postcard” from Sierra‘s student correspondent about why UC Davis is the Coolest School in 2012.

 

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Endless Opportunities in the Environmental Field

August 13th, 2012 @ 9:18 am by Camille Kirk

Guest blogger Alicia Halpern, a UC Davis sophomore Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning major, shares an essay below that she wrote for the Enviance March Madness contest about green campuses:

Students work in D-Lab with Professor Kurt Kornbluth

What sets the environmental program at UC Davis apart from other schools is the breadth of opportunities available to undergraduate students. There are an incredible number of environmental majors to choose from. You can major in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning, Environmental Science and Management, Environmental Toxicology, Ecological Management and Restoration, Wildlife Conservation, Sustainable Agriculture and many more. Many fields are environmentally related. At Davis, whether you are interested in climate change, water, energy, wildlife conservation, agriculture, transportation, or a different environmental issue, there is a major that will allow you to study your passion in depth.

Even more exciting are the opportunities to learn from and work with faculty who are doing cutting-edge research on the environmental problems facing society. As an undergrad at UC Davis you have the chance to do research with faculty who are at the forefront of fields such as sustainable agriculture, energy efficiency, climate change, and more. More than half of all undergraduates at UC Davis participate in research while they are here. By getting involved in research you are able to apply what you learn in the classroom to help find real solutions to society’s greatest environmental challenges.

Another reason why Davis is a great place for students who are passionate about environmental issues is that sustainability is truly integrated into daily life. It is the norm for students to get to school and around town by walking, biking or taking the bus. There is a student farm and the campus takes things such as energy and water efficiency very seriously. All of this combines to mean that you can focus on whatever aspect of the environment you are most passionate about, both in the classroom and out. The opportunities within the environmental field are endless when you go to UC Davis.

– Alicia Halpern, student at University of California, Davis

Don’t miss the companion video that fellow student Phillip Tran made and posted on YouTube. The video shows that rain or shine, we bike! And, take the bus, compost, recycle…

 

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2012 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, by the numbers!

August 10th, 2012 @ 12:46 pm by Camille Kirk

Dr. Mitchell Thomashow gives the keynote address at the 2012 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, Monday, June 18

In homage to Harper’s Index, here are some fun facts about the 2012 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, hosted at UC Davis, June 18-22:

Whew!

UC Davis is so honored to have had the chance to share our campus and host our colleagues for the 2012 conference. Conference attendees enjoyed five jam-packed days of sharing sustainability best practices, going on field trips, eating delicious meals, hearing an inspirational keynote, and meeting new people. Our weather cooperated nicely, and we celebrated colleagues who accomplished award-winning projects during a reception and dinner at the beautiful Shields Oak Grove in the Arboretum.

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this conference a blazing success!

Special thanks go to UC Davis Custodial Services and Building Maintenance Services for all of their incredible help that far exceeded our expectations, Arboretum and Grounds for their gracious work with us, Dining and Catering Services for the beautiful, healthy and delicious food that made everyone so happy, and Conference and Event Services for their phenomenal work above and beyond the ordinary conference planning.

-UC Davis Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability

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