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Archive for the 'Water' Category

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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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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The Big Save: Inside the UC Davis Energy and Water Challenge

March 2nd, 2015 @ 3:25 pm by Camille Kirk

The last week of the Energy & Water Challenge is upon us. How low can the dorms go? The following guest post from Kiernan Salmon, Energy Analyst with the UC Davis Energy Conservation Office, shares a bit about this race to save the most:

Choose Not To Use! Energy & Water Challenge - 2015.

Choose Not To Use! Energy & Water Challenge – 2015.

This year, the Facilities Management Energy Conservation Office (ECO) has partnered with Student Housing to put on the Energy & Water Challenge! The challenge is a chance for residence hall students to see who can save the most energy and water over a three-week period. From February 16 to March 8, seven residence hall teams will be ranked on a leaderboard based on how much energy and water they are saving.

The seven teams will be formed from clusters of residence hall buildings, divided based on their electricity, steam and domestic water metering. ECO compares the current energy (made up of electricity and steam) and domestic water usage to the average usage between February 2 and February 15 (the baseline). The teams’ savings will be ranked against each other’s savings to determine who saves the most.

Last year, the Tercero Resident Hall Energy Challenge pilot project led to 10-15% energy savings. This year, we have added domestic water and extended the challenge to every residence hall on campus. With this expansion, we hope to increase the savings and impart to students the importance of saving energy and water. Everyone can follow the challenge on the interactive leaderboard.

2015_Challenge_Screenshot

The Energy & Water Challenge Leaderboard – follow along to see which dorm will prevail!

 

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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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UC Davis Releases Drought Response Action Plan

April 17th, 2014 @ 1:38 pm by Camille Kirk

icons_map_drop

Earlier this year, Governor Brown declared a drought state of emergency and called on Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent. UC Davis is taking this call to action seriously. Here is what the campus is doing and how you can take action, too.

First, you may be interested to learn that while UC Davis enrollment has nearly tripled since 1969, our campus is using the same amount of water as it did in the 1970s. That is because we have worked hard, often in response to previous droughts, to reduce water consumption throughout our operations.

Current campus water-saving measures

Our current Drought Response Action Plan outlines additional actions to strive for a further 20 percent reduction in water use. These measures include:

  • Reducing irrigation schedules and fine-tuning watering systems.
  • Continuing the replacement of decorative turf grass with drought-resistant ground covers.
  • Expanding conservation practices in dining services.
  • Recycling the water used in the Central Heating and Cooling Plant more often.

    Pumps and pipes that convey potable water to campus buildings. Meters connected to these pumps help reveal how much water is being used across the campus at any given time. Photo credit: David Phillips, UC Davis.

    Pumps and pipes that convey potable water to campus buildings. Meters connected to these pumps help reveal how much water is being used across the campus at any given time. Photo credit: David Phillips, UC Davis.

  • Washing fleet vehicles less frequently.
  • Investigating opportunities to achieve water savings in agricultural and research water use.
  • Communicating water conservation practices to campus residents and summer conference guests.

To share UC Davis work in water research and policy advising, the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences is organizing a Drought Science, Policy and Management Summit to be held April 25th in Sacramento.

Your role in saving water

All members of the campus community can contribute to water savings in several ways:

  • Lab and office managers should consult the sustainability website for a list of water-wise lab practices.
  • In restrooms, break rooms and labs, turn off water when you are not directly using it.
  • Report water leaks, broken fixtures and irrigation spray heads, and other water waste to Facilities Management by phone (530-752-1655), online (om-as.ucdavis.edu/WebWO) or by email, facilities@ucdavis.edu.

The California Department of Water Resources hosts an excellent website, Save Our Water, with more resources for water savings, and our own UC Davis Arboretum offers numerous resources for water-wise home landscaping. These and many other drought-related resources can be found at drought.ucdavis.edu, where you can also learn more about UC Davis research, outreach and policy work.

Thank you for your stewardship efforts to save water as California and UC Davis face this drought together. If you have any questions or suggestions, please send them to savewater@ucdavis.edu.

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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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Water: Fact or Fashion?

February 25th, 2013 @ 10:30 am by Camille Kirk

Guest blogger Alicia Brown, a third-year Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning major, Sustainability Showcase Curator and Green Offices Intern, writes about the latest installation in the Memorial Union Sustainability Showcase, located in the east wing, near the Information Desk and AggieCard Office.

Water: Fact or Fashion? Display in the UC Davis Memorial Union Sustainability Showcase.

Water: Fact or Fashion? Display in the UC Davis Memorial Union Sustainability Showcase.

The Sustainability Showcase has opened its second exhibit for viewing on the first floor of the Memorial Union! The theme of the exhibit is Water: Fact or Fashion and features disposable water bottles and issues surrounding water quality and use. Water is a vital aspect of our everyday lives, but when faced with the facts, is choosing to drink bottled water a necessity or a product of our society’s consumerism? Why do people pay more for their water than they need to?

When thinking about water, it’s hard not to consider safety and equity on a global scale, but the issues hit close to home as well–in the Central Valley where tap water is unsafe due to high concentrations of nitrates from agriculture, households are paying 4.6% (3 times the affordability threshold recommended by the EPA) of their income on relatively safer bottled water. Is this out of necessity or is it a fad? How do we solve the problem of water equity in our own state? These are some of the thought-provoking questions the exhibit invites you to explore.

With interesting visuals and a collection of water bottles from across the country and around the globe, Water: Fact or Fashion is intriguing and engaging.

Some of the collection's water bottles from around the world.

Some of the collection’s water bottles from around the world.

An interactive portion of the exhibit allows viewers to become part of the ongoing conversation about water.

Comment board, with a "Question of the Week" about water policy and use.

Comment board, with a “Question of the Week” about water policy and use.

The Showcase is a collaborative project between departments to provide information about various sustainability issues in keeping with UC Davis’ reputation as a #1 Cool School. Make sure to stop by and check it out! The exhibit is located on the first floor of the MU between the Corral and the Information Desk.

If you are interested in creating your own sustainability themed exhibit or have any thoughts and suggestions, please contact student curator Alicia Brown at the Office Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability (aibrown@ucdavis.edu).

Many thanks to John O’Connor of H2O’C Engineering for giving us permission to display part of his collection of water bottles as well as visuals from his presentation.

 

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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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