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Spring cleaning: E-waste drop-off next week

April 13th, 2016 @ 12:41 pm by Camille Kirk

Spring cleaning in the age of “e” means getting rid of broken electronics in an environmentally friendly way — and Aggie Surplus can do that for you. All you need to do is drop off your e-waste, for free, from noon to 3 p.m. next Tuesday, April 19, at the Hopkins Services Complex, 615 Hopkins Road, across from University Airport.

Acceptable items: Nonfunctioning, university-owned desktop (or smaller) electronic items such as desktop and laptop computers, monitors, keyboards and mice; software; printer fax machines and shredders; cords and cables; personal digital assistants; projectors, televisions, and VCR and DVD players; speakers and phones; typewriters and microwaves. (If you have any of these items that work, and want to get rid of them, Aggie Surplus will pick them up at no charge, for resale.)

Aggie Surplus’ e-waste collection also will accept small lab items, such as shakers and water baths.

Here’s what’s not acceptable: items with UC Davis property stickers; items requiring decommissioning (e.g., containing oil or refrigerant) or containing hazardous chemicals; household batteries (you can leave these for pick-up with your campus mail); and toner cartridges (also can be placed for pick-up with your campus mail).

Aggie Surplus gave these additional guidelines: Remove items from original packaging and do not place items in small boxes. And, if you’re dropping off a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) unit, remove the batteries. Finally, if you plan on dropping off a large quantity of items (50 or more), Aggie Surplus would appreciate advance notice.

Still have questions? Contact Aggie Surplus by telephone, 530-752-2145, or email.

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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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Data and Sustainability

February 6th, 2015 @ 5:12 pm by Camille Kirk

This guest post comes from David Trombly, Data Management Engineer with the UC Davis Division of Utilities.

Building better campus data systems empowers users, operators, engineers, and sustainability professionals to do what they do best – save! Nearly all efforts to make the campus more sustainable rely on a foundation of accurate information about campus energy, water, waste, and chemical use. Developing more granular data streams opens the door to identify behaviors and processes that can be improved with reinforcing feedback loops. Managing these large data sets is a challenge. If we are to have a sustainable campus, we also need sustainable business processes for our data. Data must be properly collected, managed over time, run through quality checks, and periodically audited to keep it accurate and relevant.

In Utilities, we have been focusing on building more sustainable data management systems. Our metering and controls team has installed many new meters that measure campus buildings, wells, wastewater flow and treatment, and energy production and distribution. We are also working with Facilities Management to implement meter commissioning and calibration programs. Most of the real time meter data is now being automatically sent to a recently upgraded computer system which will allow operators, managers, researchers, students, and sustainability professionals to access the data from workstations and mobile devices as well as dashboards like the water dashboard and the Campus Energy Education Dashboard.

We are also building and automating database systems that track “meta data” – data around campus assets that provides context for real time data – such as process flow diagrams to help describe what exactly each meter is measuring. Much of this data will be combined with the real time data into one system and also displayed visually in collaboration with our GIS team, as seen here, where campus exterior lights are visualized for a section of main campus.

Here, campus exterior lights are visualized for a section of main campus.

Here, campus exterior lights are visualized for a section of main campus.

This data will ultimately be combined into efficiency metrics and analytics which will more quickly reveal inefficiencies and trigger notifications of problems.

There are many cool things that can be done with big data for the small city that we call UC Davis. We are currently working on automating the recognition of building occupant behavior at South Entry Parking Structure. This relies on the fact that each device at a building has a unique electricity use signature. In the example below, the tall thin spikes are the elevator and the tall spikes following by slow ramp downs are car chargers. Once the algorithm is completed, we hope that it will help save energy, track occupant behavior, and automate building maintenance work orders based on changes to the signal.

South Entry Parking Structure, electrical power demand graph

South Entry Parking Structure, electrical power demand graph

 

 

 

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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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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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Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building Wins Best Practice Award!

April 9th, 2014 @ 4:00 pm by Camille Kirk

We are very excited to share the following guest post, which is contributed by Gary Dahl, Director of Project Management-Capital Projects, UC Davis Design and Construction Management:

The award-winning Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery Building, looking east. Photo credit: UC Davis.

The award-winning Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery Building, looking east.

UC Vice President Patrick Lenz announced last week that the UC Davis Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building has won Best Overall Sustainable Design in UC’s tenth annual Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Design Awards program.

Employing thermal mass and a high performance cladding system, the building does not have a traditional heating and air conditioning system and is completely heated and cooled by passive strategies including night time ventilation and an underground thermal rock bed. Lighting and plug load requirements are met by photovoltaic panels on the roof and the building is pursuing net-zero energy certification from the Living Building Challenge. The building also captures and stores rain water from the roof. The Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery building will serve as a test bed facility for faculty currently collaborating with industry partners to develop innovative new systems to demonstrate net-zero water and net-zero energy in the commercial production of wine. You can read more project details in the building brochure (PDF file).

Congratulations to Project Manager & Assistant Director Julie Nola and all the DCM folks in project coordination, contracts, engineering, commissioning and inspection who contributed to this achievement!

– Gary Dahl

All of us at the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability office join Gary in congratulating Julie Nola and our other colleagues at Design and Construction Management who built this project!

 

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Big Water Savings in Chemistry

April 1st, 2014 @ 2:12 pm by Camille Kirk

icons_map_dropSustainable 2nd Century and the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability will blog about water use, water conservation and the drought throughout 2014, with a special emphasis on these topics during spring quarter.

For our first water-focused post, we’re going to share something that the Chemistry Department at UC Davis has done to conserve water.

Research instrumentation often generates a lot of heat, thus needing water cooling. The UC Davis Chemistry Department is on the road to converting all of its water cooling from single-pass, domestic water use, to cooling by the campus chilled water loop. In 2010, machine shop engineer Michael Sisto realized that a chilled water pipe was in close proximity to two x-ray diffractometers, each using about 8-10 liters per minute, twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. For under $1,000 in expense to the department, he was able to tie into the chilled water loop, saving close to two million gallons per year of drinking water.

Future cooling water upgrades will be more expensive and will require a substantial commitment from the department, dean and provost. Chemistry plans to spend close to $100,000 in converting a stand-alone cooling loop for the building, and then connecting other instruments that are still on single pass cooling. A double benefit from this “process cooling” will be a helium recovery system that will recycle 80-90% of the super-cooling gas needed for cryochemistry. The 2013 helium bill in Chemistry was more than $60,000. Similar recycling systems are already working for the benefit of principal investigators and the campus in the Physics Department.

Other departments with process cooling loads are encouraged to follow Chemistry’s example. Bravo, UC Davis Chemistry!

If you have a story of water conservation that you would like to tell, or a leak or water-saving idea you would like to report, write to savewater@ucdavis.edu.

 

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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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