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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 Davis 2015 Sustainability Report Released

October 14th, 2015 @ 2:09 pm by Camille Kirk

UC Davis releases the 2015 Sustainability Report, documenting the university's progress towards key sustainability performance goals.

UC Davis releases the 2015 Sustainability Report, documenting the university’s progress towards key sustainability performance goals.

We’ve released the UC Davis 2015 annual sustainability report – check out our university’s progress toward meeting some of higher education’s most aggressive sustainability goals. There’s good reason why we are considered one of Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” – with 17 LEED certified buildings on campus, $15.5 million saved from energy efficiency upgrades and more than 180 courses per year with emphasis on sustainability. These are just a few of the ways that UC Davis is leading sustainability standards that advance best practices in higher education and beyond. Join us in celebrating our achievements and building a more sustainable UC Davis!

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Carbon Neutrality Initiative Engagement Fellowships

February 13th, 2015 @ 1:29 pm by Camille Kirk

Please share the two following award opportunities for students (undergraduate and graduate) widely and as quickly as possible. Deadlines are very short: All applications are due next Friday, February 20, by 1:00pm, to sustainability@ucdavis.edu. Specific requirements for each type of fellowship are given in the linked files:

Carbon Neutrality Student Fellowship Program Application (PDF)

Carbon Neutrality Graduate Student Teaching Application (MS Word .docx file)

The UC Office of the President has made some money available for non-need based student awards to support the Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which aims to make UC the first major research university to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions from its activities, buildings and UC-controlled vehicle fleets by 2025. In specific, the monies are to be used to support student engagement and communication efforts for the Carbon Neutrality Initiative.

Learn more about the Carbon Neutrality Initiative, and the President’s Global Climate Leadership Council which advises on the achievement of the goal.

 

 

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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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Entering the 2015 Solar Decathlon!

December 3rd, 2013 @ 11:02 am by Camille Kirk

This guest post comes from William Abernathy, a staff writer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. UC Davis is applying to enter the Solar Decathlon, a prestigious competition. We hope you will help us successfully enter! Read more about the competition application and how to get involved:

The UC Davis community has set in motion an effort to enter the 2015 Solar Decathlon, the US Department of Energy’s ZNE_One_Solar_Decintercollegiate challenge to design and build a zero-net-energy home. We’ve had our first meeting and are madly scrambling to get our application together in time. Though time is short and the odds are long, we have an amazing entry: a marketable zero-net-energy residence for migrant laborers. We hope that the Davis entry will form the basis for more sustainable housing to contribute to the Domes site, and that our experiments with green living will contribute to new opportunities, both for interdisciplinary study and for product commercialization.

To get there, we need people with an interest and expertise in design, engineering, market analysis, agricultural economics, social justice and migrant issues, and project management. A good attitude and a willingness to do good work will be a big help as well.

To join us, students should fill out the student participation form (a Google form), which tells us who you are, what you can do, and how we can reach you. Faculty or staff should fill out the faculty/staff participation form (also a Google form).

Thanks very much to all who wish to contribute!

- William Abernathy (wabernat@ucdavis.edu)

 

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Cool Davis Festival: Getting Cooler all the Time!

October 1st, 2013 @ 10:14 am by Camille Kirk

The following is a guest post from Lynne Nittler, a member of the City of Davis citizen climate action team, Cool Davis.

A solar photovoltaic vendor talks to an attendee at the 2012 Cool Davis Festival.

A solar photovoltaic vendor talks to an attendee at the 2012 Cool Davis Festival.

 

The 4th Annual Cool Davis Festival is Saturday, October 12th from 8:00-1:00 alongside the Farmers Market in Central Park. Enjoy entertainment, family activities, interactive exhibits, climate action opportunities and above all, information about reducing your carbon footprint at the food demonstrations, bike circus, EV-car show, and the Cool Solutions tent. Bike, or ride Unitrans for free all day. To volunteer, go to http://www.cooldavis.org/take-action/volunteer/ For details, go to http://www.cooldavis.org/2013/09/14/cool-davis-festival-getting-cooler-all-the-time/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Turning waste to energy: California Bioresources Alliance Symposium

September 17th, 2013 @ 8:32 am by Camille Kirk

Register Today for the California Bioresources Alliance Symposium

 

UC Davis Extension is proud to present the eighth annual California Bioresources Alliance Symposium: A Call to Action, which takes place Sept. 18-19 at the Cal/EPA Building in Sacramento. The symposium will focus on recent California legislation addressing bioresources and the Bioenergy Action Plan, ways to address biogas challenges faced by dairies, wastewater plants, and forestry products residuals handlers, facility siting issues, and use of bioresources for mine reclamation.

Conference attendees will also tour the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District’s Biosolids Recycling Facility. Each year, the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant processes 26,000 dry tons of biosolids, 30 percent of which is beneficially recycled at the BRF. The site visit will highlight how the BRF fits into California’s regulatory history, and will also feature a tour of the fats, oils and grease subsystem.

  • Sept. 18-19, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • California EPA, 1001 I St., Sacramento, CA
  • $175 fee includes morning refreshments, lunch on the first day, evening networking reception and field trip
  • Discounted fee of $100 available for public sector employees, $35 for full-time students with valid ID

Who should attend?

Intended for all those involved with organic residuals, the symposium brings together industry professionals, municipalities, regulators, legislators, state and federal agencies, researchers, financers and other stakeholders.

2013 Planning Committee Members

U.S. EPA Region 9, California Air Resources Board, State Water Resources Control Board, CalRecycle, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Energy Commission, UC Davis Extension, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, California Association of Sanitation Agencies, Western United Dairymen, Dolphin Group and Teru Talk

2013 Sponsors

BioCycle, Harvest Power, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Material Convert, Synagro, InSinkErator

 

Check the UC Davis Extension website for updates!

 

 

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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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