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Celebrating BIG solar!

November 20th, 2015 @ 6:43 pm by Camille Kirk

What a beautiful, sunny day to celebrate and dedicate our South Campus Large Solar Power Plant! The 16.3 MW solar array is producing renewable energy and helping reduce our carbon footprint, as a result of a great partnership with SunPower.

California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister, SunPower Commercial Director Robert Redlinger, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, VC-CFO Dave Lawlor, and Carbon Neutrality Student Fellow Naftali Moed each offered remarks that pointed out UC Davis’s leadership in sustainability and motivated the audience to work even harder to achieve carbon neutrality across the UC. It was especially wonderful to hear the student voice from Naftali; he offered us a powerful reminder that we are all working towards a desired future.

SunPower staff also showed off the cool robotic panel washer that was originally developed here in Davis. The washer uses much less water than conventional ways of cleaning panels, and keeping the panels clean increases production of the “green” electricity we want.

 

Thank you again to everyone who helped make this project a reality and this celebration so meaningful!

UC Davis Carbon Neutrality Student Fellow Naftali Moed finishes his remarks as Chancellor Katehi and VC-CFO Lawlor applaud.

Carbon Neutrality Student Fellow Naftali Moed finishes his remarks as Chancellor Katehi and VC-CFO Lawlor applaud.

SunPower technician explains how the robotic washer works to attendees.

SunPower technician explains how the robotic washer works to attendees.

 

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Taking the Cool Campus Challenge up a notch; and prizes!

November 4th, 2015 @ 12:22 pm by Camille Kirk

Cool Campus Challenge StampIt’s week 5 of the 10-week Cool Campus Challenge, a competition for staff, faculty and students to reduce our carbon footprint and create a #UCool culture, and UC Davis has slipped to third place (!) behind UCLA and UC Irvine. Looking at the data, UC Davis has almost the lowest points earned per person (10th, just in front of UC Irvine and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab). And UC Irvine and UCLA both have many more people signed up. Help get us back in the lead!

Log in and keep earning points – verify your pledges with a short explanation (“story”) of what you do, add actions, nominate eco-heroes, attend sustainability events, invite your colleagues to participate, and add photos of your pledges in action. You say you’ve taken all the pledges you can and you have nothing left to do in the Cool Campus Challenge ? We say, hold up, we have some new UC Davis-specific pledges for you this week. Try these:

  • Action: Check out the Campus Energy Education Dashboard (CEED) and write up what you’ve learned about the campus’s energy usage.

Example pledge “story” language: Buildings are the biggest energy consumers on campus and also present the biggest opportunity we have to save energy and support the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative. I saw how different types of buildings use energy on the Campus Energy Education Dashboard! See for yourself at ceed.ucdavis.edu!

Example pledge “story” language: I invited a friend to join me to go see sustainability spots at UC Davis; we used the Explore Sustainability map, which we found at tinyurl.com/ExploreSustainability (PDF). We were amazed at all of the different ways our campus is working on meeting big sustainability goals.

  •  Action: Learn about sustainability as a goal of the Long Range Development Plan for the future of our campus.

 Example pledge “story” language: The campus is beginning to plan our next ten years, with a campus Long Range Development Plan, and I learned how sustainability is one of three goals for our future at campustomorrow.ucdavis.edu.

  •  Action: Attend an environment/sustainability-related event; find one in the campus event calendar by selecting the Environment and Sustainability category.

Example pledge “story” language: I attended a department talk on “Life-Cycle Perspectives to Help Us Build, Move and Eat Within Our Environmental Means” and learned about life-cycle modeling to estimate greenhouse gas emissions. I found this event at http://ucdavis.edu/calendar/ and am going to look for more sustainability talks to attend!

We’ll post some more ideas next week. Look for others before then and add your ideas and actions below in the comments.

Camille Kirk, from the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability office, awards solar charger prize to Cool Campus Challenge winner Jessica Galvan. Next prize drawing on Monday, November 9.

Camille Kirk, from the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability office, awards solar charger prize to Cool Campus Challenge winner Jessica Galvan. Next prize drawing on Monday, November 9.

On Monday, Nov. 9, we’ll announce the next two prize-winners from a random selection of UC Davis participants who have at least 5,000 points. Our first two winners (October 26) of the biweekly prize drawing were Jessica Galvan, with the Facilities Management Energy Conservation Office and Pheng Vongkhamchang, with the Library. We’ll give out prizes every other week until the competition ends, and we’ll recognize our campus teams.

On December 11, the campus with the most points for reducing carbon will hold the title of the Coolest UC. Let’s make UC Davis the Coolest UC! Join us at coolcampuschallenge.org.

 

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UC Regents: Listen to Your Community. Be True Climate Leaders.

September 10th, 2014 @ 1:11 pm by Camille Kirk

The Regents of the University of California are being asked to consider divestment from fossil fuels at the upcoming September meeting. In advance of that meeting, the Sustainable 2nd Century blog is hosting two guest posts this week about the fossil fuel divestment effort. This post is an excerpt of a longer essay about the Fossil Free UC movement written by UC Davis student Emili Abdel-Ghany, a Community and Regional Development senior, California Student Sustainability Coalition Field Organizer for the Fossil Freedom Solidarity Organizing Program and former Senior Field Organizer for the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign.

Fossil Free UC rally at the May 2014 University of California Regents meeting in Sacramento, California. Photo credit: Becca Rast.

Fossil Free UC rally at the May 2014 University of California Regents meeting in Sacramento, California. Photo credit: Becca Rast.

Over the past three years I have seen communities rise up together across UC Davis, the entire UC, and reaching out into California and beyond, even reaching the front page of the Wall Street Journal’s Money and Investing segment. The campaign to divest our communities from the fossil fuel industry is one that resonates with folks from every part of society. I have had the opportunity to help shape the campaign on the local (Davis) level and statewide, coordinating multiple actions at the Sacramento UC Regents meetings and others. I have personally dedicated a majority of my undergraduate career to this campaign and to the education of the broader campus and California community (UC Davis and beyond). Faith communities, those fighting for racial or gender equity, scientific communities, campus departments, educators and countless students have thanked the campaign leaders for enlightening them about what UC investments are doing. I have seen how galvanizing the issue of unsustainable investments can be for students, faculty, staff, and the community. Almost every time I’ve told someone about this campaign their reaction is the same: They did not know that the UC invests donations in fossil fuel industries which constitutes a lack of transparency from the UC, and they do not want the UC to be investing in or even using fossil fuels. Further, they want to have a say in the process given that UC is a public institution of research and higher education, and are strongly opposed to the direction the UC is going in its relationship to the industry fueling climate change. Although the UC has just made significant strides to advance solar, it is a moral contradiction to invest in the companies driving the climate crisis while investing in those attempting to halt it.

Our movement for climate justice is reaching a tipping point this September, and here in California we must act to hold our flagship public institution accountable for financing climate chaos.  UC Regents on the Committee on Investments will be voting on fossil fuel divestment at their meeting September 17th meeting at the UCSF Mission Bay campus. We need as many voices from community, students, faculty, administration present. The Chief Investment Officer (CIO) recently altered his original recommendation to the Committee on Investments (COI), which would have advocated for a loose ESG (Environmental and Social Governance) framework for investing and explicitly stated recommending a “No” vote on divestment. In my opinion, this recommendation would completely disregard and even misconstrue the meaning of the work of students and the community, since it does not take immediate action to halt all new investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies, drop the current holdings, and begin to reinvest in our communities. However, because of student and community pressure (by countless phone calls to the CIO) the Task Force recommended that the decision on Fossil Fuel Divestment be assigned to the COI, ending the Task Force. This minor concession is thanks to the people power generated by Fossil Free UC.

Any recommendation that the CIO makes to the Task Force will be taken very seriously by the Committee on Investments and voted on at their Friday September 12th meeting happening via teleconference in Oakland, LA, and Santa Barbara. If you would like to be involved in the momentum around this please email CSSC Field Organizer Jake Soiffer or Madeline Oliver. Most Regents will likely defend his position. We need to keep up the public pressure on decision makers. The Regents will likely still vote yes on whatever the CIO recommends to the COI. It will be incredibly important to have as many people at this meeting supporting our campaign as possible. If you are faculty we have a template letter that we would love for you sign onto/adapt and send you may contact CSSC Campaign Director, Emily Williams for this letter. Otherwise (for non-faculty), you can send your input to the UC Regents via email  regentsoffice@ucop.edu, mail: Office of the Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents 1111 Franklin St.,12th floor Oakland, CA 94607 with attention to the Committee on Investments. The regent who chairs this committee is Paul Wachter, it would be good to address concerns to him since the decision is in the hands of the COI as of now. If you will be sending a letter after Friday please email it to CSSC Field Organizer Alyssa Lee and she will circulate it appropriately.

The UC has to lead. We have to act now. The Regents have the opportunity of a lifetime to listen to the outcry of the people and divest NOW!

For more information follow:
www.fossilfreeuc.org
www.facebook.com/FossilFreeUC
www.sustainabilitycoalition.org
www.twitter.com/FossilFreeUC
To be added to list serves email Alyssa Lee.

Read Emili’s essay, from which this post was excerpted, to learn more about what has compelled her to become active in divestment efforts.

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It’s Time to Divest from Fossil Fuels

September 8th, 2014 @ 4:19 pm by Camille Kirk

The Regents of the University of California are being asked to consider divestment from fossil fuels at the upcoming September meeting. In advance of that meeting, the Sustainable 2nd Century blog is hosting two guest posts this week about the fossil fuel divestment effort. This post is written by Stephen M. Wheeler, Associate Professor, Department of Human Ecology.

Fossil fuel companies play a major role in promoting carbon-intensive societies. Should UC be investing in them? Photo and caption by Stephen M. Wheeler.

Photo of Valero refinery in Benicia, California. Fossil fuel companies play a major role in promoting carbon-intensive societies. Should UC be investing in them? Photo and caption by Stephen M. Wheeler.

At universities across the country the subject of fossil fuel divestment is in the news. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff are pressing trustees to drop schools’ investments in corporations threatening our future through global warming emissions. Already last spring Stanford gained a lead on the University of California by agreeing not to invest in coal stocks. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for UC to regain the moral lead by divesting from fossil fuels across the board?

Global warming is the largest sustainability challenge of our time. UC plays a positive role through research into climate change and renewable energy technologies, and through efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from UC campuses. However, an issue of this sort calls for moral leadership as well. California as a state has already adopted strong policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By divesting from fossil fuel stocks UC can take a stand as well, and further build its reputation as a worldwide leader on sustainability topics.

As a student I was active in the late-1970s and 1980s movement to get colleges to divest from corporations doing business in South Africa, at a time when South Africa rigidly separated blacks and whites and Nelson Mandela was in prison. The University of California took a lead in countering racism back then by divesting some $3 billion in South-African-related stocks. Mandela later credited UC’s action with significantly helping to abolish apartheid.

Please do whatever you can—as a student, faculty member, staff person, or alumni—to encourage the UC Regents to vote for divestiture during 2014-15. Regents will first take up the issue on September 17, but additional consideration is likely throughout the year.

Information about how to contact the Regents is at http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/contact/index.html. The best form of contact may be a written comment sent by email on “Divestment from fossil fuels” prior to any Regents meeting at which this topic is on the agenda. You can review agendas at http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/meetings/index.html.

Let’s see our University on the cutting edge of social change once more.

 

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An Insider’s Look at Becoming the First College or University Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business…

May 13th, 2013 @ 8:24 am by Camille Kirk

We thought it would be interesting to invite David Takemoto-Weerts, the UC Davis Bicycle Program Coordinator, to share his perspective on applying for and winning Platinum-level recognition of the campus as a Bicycle Friendly Business. Here are his words about the achievement:

BFB platinum_newWhen UC Davis was awarded the highest (“Platinum”) level award by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) as a Bicycle Friendly Business on Earth Day, April 22, I was a bit surprised, but also very pleased. As one of only eight businesses nationwide to receive Platinum recognition (out of 545 awards presented since 2008), and the first college or university so honored, we are understandably proud.

I had not given much thought to applying for this award until mid-December when LAB’s Executive Director, Andy Clarke, on a visit to UC Davis, suggested that we should and that doing so might improve our chances of moving up from Gold to Platinum the next time we apply for the award. With only four weeks (including two weeks of winter break!) to complete and submit the lengthy application, I was grateful that there was at least some overlap between the questions on the new form and our previous Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) application form. [UC Davis was awarded Gold recognition as a BFU in 2011.]

Perhaps most staff, faculty and students don’t think of the University as a “business”, but the fact is that we have thousands of employees and we provide a wide range of services, usually for a fee, to a broad constituency. Filling out the BFB application forces one to think about what we do in many different ways.

I was asked what the most challenging question was to answer. It was probably this one: “What has been the business’s most significant investment for bicycling?”

I could think of many possible responses, but I went with this:

In the 1960s, Chancellor Emil Mrak made two major policy decisions that were instrumental in making UC Davis so welcoming to bicyclists: 1) all campus buildings and other destinations would have sufficient bike parking for all cyclists and the parking areas would be located as near to major building entrances as possible. 2) in 1967, the campus “core area”, formerly accessible by motor vehicles with no restrictions, was closed to all motor vehicles except for emergency, service and delivery vehicles. By doing so, the core area streets essentially became wide, safe and convenient bike paths overnight. The “bicycle only” campus core area has expanded over the years and, in fact, will expand significantly in 2013 when unauthorized motor vehicles are restricted from even more roadways on the west and southeast sides of campus.

The other challenging part of the application was trying to remember and include all of the programs, policies, procedures and infrastructure that contribute to the overall “bike friendliness” of UC Davis. It’s not like any one department has control or authority over the creation, implementation or management of all these elements, and I’d guess we might have missed a couple.

Even though we earned the top award, we know there is always room for improvement. We should soon be getting feedback from the League that will describe areas in which they feel we could improve. We received similar follow-up when we received the Gold BFU recognition in March 2011. As a result, we instituted a number of improvements that we believe will elevate us to Platinum status when we reapply for the BFU award in July.

To everyone who helped with both applications, especially all those who responded to the League’s survey questionnaire which is an integral part of the review process, TAPS would like to extend a huge “Thank You”! It’s the many campus individuals and departments who do so much to encourage bicycling here at UC Davis that really put us in the top echelon of “bicycle friendship” in the U.S.

So, now that you know a little of the behind-the-scenes story, go out and celebrate May is Bike Month by riding around our Platinum-level bike friendly infrastructure. Bike safe and have fun!

 

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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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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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Excited for the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference!

June 18th, 2012 @ 4:52 pm by Camille Kirk

We are thrilled to welcome nearly a thousand of our higher education colleagues who are advancing sustainability on their campuses. Higher education is providing leadership in showing how we the world can integrate more sustainable practices into our own daily lives.

The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference is an important communication channel to keep all of us in the forefront, and we are so proud to be hosting it this year.

As hosts, we are excited to show off all the sustainability work that we’ve been doing at UC Davis. Here are sneak peeks at a campus sustainability self-guided tour map and Global Leadership in Sustainability brochure that we’ve made for the event.

See you at the conference!

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California Higher Education Sustainability Conference Call for Proposals

December 9th, 2011 @ 2:40 pm by Camille Kirk

Call for Proposals
California Higher Education Sustainability Conference
Hosted by UC Davis

June 18th-22nd, 2012
Submissions Due: January 20th, 2012
http://cahigheredusustainability.org/program/callforproposals/

The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) highlights cutting-edge case studies as well as research, curriculum development, and community partnerships. This unique event is jointly organized by independent/private colleges, California Community Colleges, California State Universities, and the University of California creating the opportunity for dialogue across institutions.

The CHESC seeks speakers who have crossed silos within their institutions to create sustainable change, infuse concepts of sustainability into curriculum, and/or to pursue research questions related to sustainability (especially where the research has or could be applied to campus sustainability). We are especially excited about proposals where a connection has been made across academic and operational departments. In the words of Fritjof Capra:

“The more we study the major problems of our time, the more we come to realize that they cannot be viewed in isolation. They are systemic problems, which means that they are interconnected and interdependent.”

Campus staff, faculty, students, and administrators are encouraged to submit proposals on case studies, pilot programs, and replicable best practices. We are equally interested in projects where a key lesson was learned and projects that were successful in the traditional sense.

This year potential speakers will be asked to submit proposals that highlight or create a link between at least two of our core topic areas (click the titles below for more information on each):

a. Climate Action Planning
b. Curriculum
c. Energy
d. Food Systems
e. Green Building
f. Healthcare
g. Institutionalizing Sustainability
h. Local (Regional Case Studies)
i. Procurement and Business Services
j. Research
l. Social Equity
m. Student Affairs and Auxiliaries
n. Transportation
o. Waste Reduction and Recycling
p. Water and Landscape

During this call for proposals process, we will also be accepting proposals for:

Poster Show
Throughout the conference, we will highlight posters that describe research, creative activities, and best practices related to sustainability. This is an opportunity for students, faculty, campus staff, and administrators to present and communicate their work from the past academic year to a diverse audience.

Student Convergence
The convergence is a post-conference, half-day workshop on Thursday, June 21st, 2012. It will highlight new student campaigns, upcoming projects, and skill sharing workshops. Students will also have a chance to network with other student leaders from California Community Colleges, California State University, University of California, and Private campuses throughout the state collectively as well as with students from their own systems. The convergence is free, and students can attend it without attending the main conference.

For more information, please visit our Call for Proposals website.

Please share this announcement with your colleagues and contact Katie Maynard, Event Manager, if you have any questions: 805-448-5111; kmaynard@geog.ucsb.edu.

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Free E-Waste Disposal Event October 19th

October 11th, 2011 @ 8:35 pm by Camille Kirk

Guest poster Michelle Borba, Bargain Barn Coordinator, writes below about the October 19 free e-waste disposal event:

You’ve been waiting patiently, controlling the anticipation…but it’s finally back by popular demand..(insert drum roll here)… it’s the free e-waste disposal event for UC Davis departments! All those desktop electronic items you’ve been gleaning out of pine trees and abandoned storage units can now be out of your life for good.

When: Wednesday October 19 from 12:00-4:00 PM. No early birds please!
Where: Please note that the location has changed to Hopkins Services Complex, 615 Hopkins Rd (across from the University airport)
Items accepted: University-owned, non-functioning desktop (or smaller) electronic items

NOT ACCEPTED: Items with UCD property stickers, items requiring decommissioning (containing oil or refrigerant), toners and household batteries will not be accepted. 

We look forward to seeing you there! Please contact the Bargain Barn with any questions at 752-2145.

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