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Accreditation for landscape management, operations

December 10th, 2014 @ 10:13 am by Carol Shu

The following article was written by Dave Jones, for UC Davis Dateline.

Photo of the Grounds and Landscape Services staff

Group photo of the Grounds and Landscape Services team

Every institution of higher education knows the importance of accreditation, like UC Davis’ recent 10-year renewal from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Now we have another accreditation to be proud of — for landscape management and operations on the Davis campus. The best-in-the-nation accreditation is from the Professional Grounds Management Society, which evaluated UC Davis Grounds and Landscape Services’ principles and practices for “attractive, healthy, sustainable and high quality” grounds.

The accreditation program is new this year: Only three campuses made the cut in the first round, with UC Davis the only one in California and the only one to get the top rating of four stars.

Carey Avery, Nelson Randolph, and Tyson Mantor (center three) accepting the accreditation award at a ceremony in Louisville, Kentucky.

Carey Avery, Nelson Randolph, and Tyson Mantor (center three) accepting the accreditation award at a ceremony in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I could not be more proud of our team,” said Cary Avery, an associate director in Campus Planning and Community Resources. He leads Grounds and Landscape Services and has his own accreditation from the Professional Grounds Management Society, as a certified grounds manager.

“The group of employees that we have working to maintain the health and safety of our campus environment is a top-notch group of people,” Avery said. “They care about each other, this place and the environment.”

The accreditation team had good things to say about Avery: “After talking and listening to Cary’s direct reports and representatives from the work force, it is clear that his leadership style and focus on relationship building are key factors to a harmonious, caring and dedicated workplace environment. “

Which brings us to the work itself: “Many people think that we are just a ‘mow-and-blow’ operation,” Avery said. “They’d be wrong. We have a hand in everything that happens outside.”

Here is a partial list, beyond the mowing and the blowing and raking:

  • Tree care.
  • Cleanup after storms.
  • Irrigation.
  • Sports turf maintenance (including the application of chalk lines).
  • Assist students in their use of landscape installations for school projects, and help faculty members with tree care demonstrations for students.
  • Manage everyday trash and recyclable collection, as well as event cleanup and zero-waste operations.

And, because they’re out and about all day, groundskeepers also give directions to lost visitors, Avery said.

“We have even been contacted by the Raptor Center to rescue an injured bird from a tree top! If this team can help, they will be there. They are incredible people.”

From Green Star to 4 stars

In 2006, the campus earned the highest rating of Grand Star in the Professional Grounds Management Society’s Green Star Awards program, which, according to Avery, was more about aesthetics. “The Grand Star wasn’t about our management practices, how we treat our customers or employees,” he said. “There’s no team that visits to make sure you are doing what you say you are doing.”

The new accreditation program, including site visits, focuses on environmental stewardship, economic performance and social responsibility.

“Collectively, the landscape management team projected a wealth of knowledge on contemporary grounds management strategies as well as a good familiarity with emerging management ideologies and innovations,” the accreditation team wrote. “Cary’s knowledge and effective use of sound grounds management strategies is evident from observing the results of site appropriate work processes and procedures and the delivery of an appreciable grounds product.”

Year-to-year water savings: 20 percent

UC Davis’ sustainability score reflected water savings of about 80 million gallons since Jan. 1, a reduction of more than 20 percent from the year before. Amid the state’s three-year drought, Gov. Jerry Brown has asked all institutions of higher learning to reduce water use by at least that much by the year 2020.

“We’ve done it already, and we hope to do even better next year,” Avery said.

He said the campus has 10 years of experience with “smart” control irrigation, and this allowed for an immediate cut of 20 percent or more in turf watering except on fields that are used for athletics or that have heavy use.

Continued analysis will allow for irrigation cuts of up to 50 percent in certain areas, depending on tree irrigation needs.

“New technologies now also allow our team to further refine irrigation settings with more site-specific information, including plant and soil type, and sun exposure,” Avery said.

“Landscapes where this technology has been implemented only receive water application when the soil and plant material reach a certain allowable depletion level.”

Also, the grounds crew has shut off all fountains and fixes irrigation leaks and overspray problems as quickly as possible after learning of them. To report leaks or overspray, call Facilities Management, (530) 752-1655.

Unique features

In its executive summary, the evaluation team observed: “The University of California, Davis, has a very attractive campus with a visual appearance that can quickly and effectively generate interpretive discussions.

“There are a variety of landscaped areas and features that do not typically appear with as much regularity in the traditional campus setting” — the diversity of drought-tolerant and adaptive plantings (including those in several landscape conversions), the ground cover materials, bio swales and rain gardens, living walls and fences, and naturalized areas strategically interwoven throughout the campus.

“Clearly the integration of these types of sustainability elements with older or existing landscaped areas is a great challenge, and required strategies from a different maintenance and management paradigm,” the review team stated. “The University of California, Davis, campus displays a keen responsiveness to this reality.”

The accreditation report concluded: “The Grounds and Landscape Services unit (of the Arboretum and Public Garden) is playing a vital role in the university’s aspiration to provide an extraordinary experience as a visitor-centered destination, particularly at a time when the campus is in the midst of a historic and severe drought.”

 

Read the original article in Dateline.

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UC Davis Water Usage Snapshot, Fall 2014

October 21st, 2014 @ 1:00 pm by Camille Kirk

The following report is provided by David Phillips (director of utilities) and Camille Kirk (assistant director of sustainability):

icons_map_dropAs of September 30, 2014, UC Davis is not on track to meet the goal set in January to reduce total campus water use by 20%. Metering records show that the campus has used 2% more water year-to-date in 2014 than for the same period in 2013. Despite this poor overall result, the detailed monthly data show excellent progress in several areas where specific actions have been undertaken. The data also suggest where additional, prioritized study and action are necessary to reduce water use. Campus performance is expected to improve as additional measures are implemented. This recent focus on metrics and analyzing metered water use data in response to the drought is a very positive step forward for campus water management.

The April 2014 UC Davis Drought Response Action Plan described the campus water systems. The pie chart below shows the relative proportions of the four categories of water use on the Davis campus, and is helpful in understanding how performance in the different categories of water use affects total use.

The pie chart illustrates the 2013 proportions of Davis campus water uses.

The pie chart illustrates the 2013 proportions of Davis campus water uses.

Irrigation (Utility) Water (reduced consumption)

Changes made in landscape irrigation schedules have been very effective and metered water use has dropped by 21%, which equates to a savings totaling 63 million gallons. The irrigation water supply is mainly groundwater pumped from intermediate aquifers. The 21% drop accounts for the additional 18 million gallons of Solano Project water intentionally sent into the Arboretum Waterway to prevent wildlife and plant collection deaths. Solano Project water is the surface water that UC Davis has access to under an accord permitting beneficial use of water stored in Lake Berryessa. This year’s use of Solano Project water in the Arboretum Waterway is planned to be a one-time action. The campus expects to receive regulatory approval in 2015 to use tertiary-treated wastewater as the dry-weather supply for the Waterway.

Fisheries Water (reduced consumption)

Overall, water used for campus fisheries research has dropped by 10%, with year-to-date reductions totaling 30 million gallons. Changes completed in June 2014 to control the well that provides the majority of the campus aquaculture research water reduced pumping from this facility by 20-25%. The changes included restoring a float to proper operation so that the well pump discharge was reduced when the water was not needed for research.

Domestic Water (increased consumption)

The domestic water supply is currently entirely groundwater pumped from a deep aquifer. Total domestic water use has increased by 4% year-to-date. Total use is measured by summing up all of the well pumping records. Only about half of the domestic water used on campus is metered at the building level. Metered water use has remained about the same as in 2013, despite the addition of several new buildings in 2014. Changes made during the summer in operating large cooling towers has resulted in a net reduction of central plant domestic water use by 12%, or 10 million gallons.

Interestingly, the water attributed to un-metered facilities increased by 12% this year. Leaks and water used for fire hydrant flushing are both un-metered uses. The meter data highlight the importance of campus efforts to find and promptly repair all water leaks. Report leaks, broken fixtures and irrigation spray heads, and other water waste to Facilities Management by calling (530) 752-1655 during typical business hours, filing a work order (the online work order requires a UC Davis login), or emailing om-customers@ad3.ucdavis.edu.

Agriculture Water (increased consumption)

The agriculture water supply is a mix of both pumped groundwater from the shallow/intermediate aquifers and surface water supply from the Solano Project. Water used for field teaching and research increased by 24% in 2014. The 119 million gallon increase in this category more than offset the savings in all other areas. Twenty-four million gallons of the increase is attributed to a large leak near the main reservoir for this system that occurred early 2014. Given the size and age of the leaking pipe, the repair was very complex and several weeks were needed to complete the work. Water use trends varied across the campus’ agricultural lands, with some parcels using less water and some using more. Additional outreach with stakeholders is necessary to identify opportunities for future reductions.

In addition, it preliminarily appears that the campus took considerably more water from Solano Project than can be accounted for in the metered use on campus. These results may be due to errors in metering, but they also suggest that the 20-mile main pipeline may be leaking. Efforts are underway to research this possibility.

If you have questions about this interim update on water conservation, you can email savewater@ucdavis.edu. And, please visit Take Action: Save Water to read more about ways you can help reduce campus water use.

 

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Garth Lenz to present “The True Cost of Oil” to Davis, UC Davis, and Sacramento audiences

January 10th, 2013 @ 11:34 am by Camille Kirk

Guest blogger Lynne Nittler, a Davis citizen and active member of Cool Davis, sends news that Garth Lenz is coming to Davis next week. Don’t miss his award-winning talk; you have three opportunities to catch it:

Large-scale mining in the Alberta Tar Sands. Photograph by Garth Lenz, copyright reserved.

Garth Lenz, an internationally-renowned environmental photo-journalist, will present his talk and award-winning slide show, “The True Cost of Oil: Images of Beauty and Devastation,” on the Alberta Tar Sands at the United Methodist Church of Davis (1620 Anderson Road) at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, January 14.  Suggested donation is $15-20; students are free. Space is limited; pre-register at www.cooldavislenz.eventbrite.com .

“Canada’s Tar Sands are perhaps the most visually compelling example of all that is wrong with our addiction to fossil fuels and why we must change or face dire consequences for all life on Earth,” states Garth Lenz.  His TED talk on the Tar Sands has been visited over 700,000 times!

Best known for his work presenting environmental and social justice issues, Garth has photographed extensively throughout Canada’s temperate rainforest and boreal forests, gathering images that show the plight of the pristine Canadian boreal region and its people who are now confronted by a vast industrial project.  The Alberta Tar Sands are the third largest, most carbon-intensive oil reserves on the planet, and their exploitation is a global threat to climate stability.

Lenz will also present his slideshow talk at Wellman 2 Lecture Hall at UC Davis on Tuesday, January 15, at 5:00 p.m.  The presentation is open to the UC Davis community and to the general public.

Additionally, Lenz will present “The True Cost of Oil” at Goethe Hall at St. John’s Lutheran Church (1702 L Street) in Sacramento on Thursday, January 17 at 7:00 p.m.  Donations will be accepted at the door.

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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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Campus Sustainability Map Launched

June 1st, 2011 @ 8:51 pm by Camille Kirk

The campus sustainability map has debuted! The interactive map can be used to find places or things on campus that express or demonstrate ways that UC Davis and the campus community are taking action towards creating a more sustainable future.

Users can start with the map introduction and points page and explore by clicking whole categories of points open (such as green buildings or recycling), or start with the sustainability map and by clicking the “Sustainability Information” link for each point, jump to the map introduction and points page for more information.

The map is not exhaustive and is a living document. The mapmakers hope that members of campus will suggest points and additional information through either emailing sustainability@ucdavis.edu, or submitting comments on this blog post about the map.

The sustainability map project has been in the making for a while and has included students from an Education for Sustainable Living Program Action Research Team led by the campus sustainability planner, Camille Kirk, who initially conceived of the project after being involved with making a green map. Campus mapmaker and GIS specialist, Chris DiDio, has been a key partner in making this map, which is a companion map to the campus map.

DiDio has searched for other campus “green” and sustainability maps and has not found another online map as extensive as the UC Davis sustainability map, saying: “I believe this is a unique map at this time for its depth and breadth.”

Future goals for the sustainability map include using the map as a springboard for creating tours, adding downloadable maps, and adding more points and more information about campus infrastructure and sustainability.

The campus sustainability map was launched Tuesday, May 31 at the annual California Student Sustainability Coalition Sustainability Summit.

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UC Davis climate change research posters for Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3

May 23rd, 2011 @ 12:36 pm by Camille Kirk

In November 2010, the Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3 was held at UC Davis. The campus is a powerhouse in climate change research, and the summit was a fantastic opportunity to share that depth of knowledge with a global audience. The big question, though, was how to translate that wide spectrum of scientific research into readily absorbed information by an audience with disparate backgrounds.

Sharon Ruth, director of communications and marketing for the John Muir Institute of the Environment, and Laurie Lewis, design manager for campus publications, spearheaded a project to translate some of the extensive body of UC Davis climate change research into posters with a reader-friendly format and layman’s language. They created a “call for posters” and had strong response from UC Davis researchers. The researchers worked with Ruth, Lewis and members of Lewis’ design team to create their posters.

The posters were a big hit, according to Ruth. “People appreciate that the information is both easy to understand and straight from the researchers’ mouths, so to speak,” Ruth said. “The posters give you, at a glance, a very good look at UC Davis research designed to help solve problems created by global climate change.”

After an extensive process to publish them in PDF and document them on a web page, the UC Davis Climate Summit research posters are now available online. We encourage everyone to visit the posters page and explore the depth and variety of research presented. Let us know what you think, and tell us the most interesting or surprising thing you learned from these posters.

Thanks to Sharon Ruth, Laurie Lewis, Brenda Dawson, Russ Thebaud, Diane Nelson and Dave Jones for their contributions to the poster project and this blog post.

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Affordable, certified eco-friendly printing at Repro Graphics

May 20th, 2011 @ 12:49 pm by Camille Kirk

Repro Graphics is an important partner in helping UC Davis reach its sustainability goals for waste reduction and smart purchasing, in part by providing independently certified eco-friendly paper and printing choices at competitive prices for customers. For that certification, Repro Graphics goes through an outside audit process by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, two independent organizations dedicated to promoting responsible forest management and fiber production. The following news story, courtesy of Dave Jones, editor of Dateline, tells more about Repro’s third annual recertification:

Repro Graphics has been recertified as a provider of paper originating in forests that are managed in accordance with the policies of the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

The campus printer purchased nearly 134,000 pounds of such paper from May 2010 through April 2011, said Brian Wadell, director.

The independent, not-for-profit Forest Stewardship Council and the independent, nonprofit Sustainable Forestry Initiative evaluate forest management companies to ensure that they are running their businesses in an agriculturally sustainable way, limiting carbon dioxide emissions, and respecting the rights of employees and indigenous people, among other criteria.

The certification process also extends to printers — such as Repro Graphics — to ensure that when a customer asks for paper from a certified forest, that the printer is giving them the real thing.

More information is available from Repro Graphics, (530) 752-COPY (2679) or reprographics@ucdavis.edu.

Congratulations, Repro Graphics!

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