Projects Funded in 2016-2017

  • Renewable energy storage pilot experiment & charge testing (RESPECT)

    Allocated Funds: $5,000

    RESPECT is a pilot/demo project for alternative electricity storage methods on campus.  It will provide valuable information and experience for the campus to go ahead with a megawatt-scale photovoltaic (PV) system, while giving students an opportunity to engage in new, valuable, and potentially publishable research.  This project will be operated through the S-lab, and could form the foundation of a future on-campus sustainable energy laboratory, offering hands-on experience to both undergraduate and graduate students experience in designing, testing, and operating power systems.

  • Data Visibility

    Allocated Funds: $33,000

    This project will put easily accessible and comprehensible data into the hands of anyone who wants to engage with on-campus residents on energy initiatives. Verifying project success, securing funding for sustainability and conservation initiatives, and empowering occupants to take ownership over their individual impact, are only a few examples of activities that require quantified justification that is data driven. Currently, in student apartments on campus, the only data available is monthly energy usage numbers in an internal campus database. The planned upgrades will allow 5-minute electric consumption data to be accessible by any campus community member who desires it through a web or mobile interface. This more granular data will reveal the effectiveness of various behavior-driven energy implications, helping to inform conservation efforts, allow for more accurate appropriation of energy charges, and allow staff to better manage and maintain the electric systems in the apartments where this is installed. The planned locations at this point are the Crown-Merrill apartments and the College 8 apartments.

  • Increasing Compost Education

    The project, Increasing Compost Education, has been awarded a Carbon Fund grant to increase the amount of food waste diverted from the landfill and influence behavior choices made by UCSC students related to food waste. The Compost Coordinator at PICA will organize educational compost workshops which include the distribution of worm compost bins to UCSC students who live off campus.

  • Green Labs

    Green Labs

    Allocated funds: $30,000

    The UCSC Sustainability Office student led program, Green Labs, was awarded a $30,000 grant for equipment retrofit fund to provide certified labs with energy- efficient lab equipment. Labs account for over half of the energy use on campus, which is partly due to their outdated and inefficient equipment. The cost of this equipment is often a barrier that prevents labs from upgrading to more energy efficient equipment and appliances. This fund will provide Green certified labs with a funding source for energy-efficient equipment lab equipment such as freezers, centrifuges, and incubators. It is estimated that this project will save 4.76 tons of carbon emission a year.

  • Engineering the Future of Sustainable Food Systems

    Allocated funds: $12,450.90

    This project has received funds to construct hydroponic system prototypes by UCSC engineering students. This system will be powered by innovative solar generation technology to reduce GHG emissions and aims to learn more about other environmental and community impacts of a sustainable agricultural closed loop system. The goal of this project is to provide hydroponic system units to UCSC food insecure students and community members to help increase their access to local, nutritious food.

  • Quantifying Urban Tree Canopy

    Allocated funds: $10,000

    As part of the City of Santa Cruz Climate Action Plan, the City is responsible for increasing the total Urban Tree Canopy. Unfortunately, the City does not have a feasible method for estimating the amount of Urban Tree Canopy. The Center for Integrated Spatial Research will be using Object-Based Image Analysis to interpret aerial imagery and quantify the change in Urban Tree Canopy over five years (2010-2014). We have estimated that by increasing the urban tree canopy by 10%, an additional ~11,500 MT of carbon dioxide equivalent will be sequestered annually. The urban tree canopy indirectly reduces greenhouse gas emissions by removing harmful particulate matter from the surrounding atmosphere and cooling the urban landscape. Additionally, understanding the distribution of tree canopy change can inform where tree planting, growth, death, and removal is occurring relative to different communities within the City.

  • Rainwater at the Arboretum

    Allocated funds: $6,000

    The project, Rainwater at the Arboretum, has been awarded a Carbon Fund grant to expand the Rainwater Catchment System at the Arboretum. The overall purpose of this project is to conserve water, by diverting rainwater from impermeable surfaces, watering plants from the Arboretum with sustainably sourced water, and growing plants with water free from chemicals found in municipal water.

  • Eco-Van

    Allocated funds: $4,563.06

    The Eco-van created in this project will be used to travel to various research sites for producing and completing the last two environmental films in the project trilogy. The current video focuses on water in California and is titled “Water makes us Wet”. In the fall of 2017, the projects focus will turn to the production of the next film titled “Composting is Hot!” Simultaneously the Eco-Van will function as a mobile educational unit that will serve as a center for environmental engagement and a hub where people and communities can gather to discuss environmental issues that related to the foci of the films- including water, soil and fossil fuels. 

  • Arboretum Green Practices

    Allocated funds: $600

    The project, Arboretum Green Practices, has been awarded a Carbon Fund grant to add element to the Arboretum to help make it more sustainable. Funds will be used to purchase a conserving dishwater to be used for large scale events.

  • Financial Affairs Carbon Education and Reduction Initiative

    Allocated funds: $1,753

    This project has been awarded a Carbon Fund grant to help educate Financial Affair staff members on the effects of using disposable products, and to help them eliminate them through use of reusable containers. Given UCSC sustainability goals, it is important to address waste and carbon footprints in areas such as office container use.

  • Central Coast Urban Gardens

    Allocated funds: $5,000

    Past years of drought in the Central Coast led community garden projects to confront water management and reduce use. Some gardens implement water use rules and conservation policies, yet few gardeners actually know how much water they use and few know management strategies to conserve water. This research project addresses this lack of understanding and the gaps in urban agriculture research on water use. The research project collaborates with gardeners across the Central Coast to assess and improve water use sustainability.

  • College 9/10 Garden Project

    Allocated funds: $1,000

    The purpose of the Garden Project is to create a similar awareness of land use as well as food systems awareness for the community of students at Colleges Nine and Ten; similar to the awareness that was created by gardens at other Colleges such as Kresge, Stevenson, and College 8.  A unique component of our garden project is our explicit focus on food justice. We are going to incorporate the themes of our two colleges: social justice, community, international and global perspectives into the gardens physical construction. We intend to have a diverse garden that will bring students together by providing a holistic approach to sustainable agriculture and cultural diversity. We plan to plant 20 fruit trees to help sequester carbon from the atmosphere while providing local produce. In addition, the 20 fruit trees will also enable the garden to practice agroforestry by planting crops near the trees. These crops will be able to grow sustainably through an alley cropping system which will provide much needed nutrients and organic material to the soil. This will reduce our carbon footprint and limit environmental degradation by not using synthetic fertilizers and sequestering carbon.

  • Green Business

    Allocated funds: $2,500

    There are multiple businesses that have been unable to complete their Green Business Program (GBP) certification (checklist and audits) due to small upgrades that they couldn’t afford/get building owners to upgrade. Grants of $500 or less to help these businesses with the cost of installing energy efficient lighting or appliances, and supplement the cost of water efficient fixtures will help reduce their environmental impact and satisfy GBP requirements.. Through the student internship aspect of this project, students will gain valuable experience in the field approaching new businesses and helping businesses that have been unable to complete the requirements thus far through the process. City Staff will provide hands-on experience through the site visit “ride-alongs” as students help businesses reduce their energy use, water use and waste-to-landfill.

  • Solar Picnic Tables

    Allocated funds: $1,250

    Solar Picnic Tables is geared towards student use, as it is meant to replace the current picnic tables by Digital Arts Research Center (DARC) with better equipped workspaces as well as provide additional places to study at. Additionally, safety and security are top priorities in the design of the Solar Picnic Tables. All of the internal electronics will be secured to prevent public access or exposure; the internal electronics will also be completely weatherproofed to prevent damage; the outlets will have outdoor weatherproof covers; and the structures will be fitted with motion sensor, eco-friendly lights. So, these structures are meant to be around as long as the solar panels keep producing power. The idea for the project stems from devising a means to charge small devices at outdoor workstations, as well as charge small devices using a sustainable power source. All labor, including design, construction, and implementation is organized through the student organization Formula Slug, and, more specifically, our devoted solar team. We are planning to construct and implement our prototype/first design by the end of Spring Quarter, 2017

  • Solar Power Upgrade at the UCSC Ano Nuevo Reserve

    Allocated funds: $3,817.91

    Description: Solar power upgrade for research and teaching at the UCSC Año Nuevo Reserve”, will provide a long-term solar power solution for research and teaching activities at UC’s Año Nuevo Natural Reserve. This unique Reserve is home to a diverse array of wildlife and ecosystems including a large elephant seal colony.  The Reserve hosts a variety of undergraduate classes who use the natural areas as a living classroom.  However, a lack of infrastructure means that researchers and classes are forced to go all the way back to Santa Cruz to process samples, lecture using PowerPoint presentations, or even to enter and process data.  By installing a solar generator kit which includes solar panels, deep-cycle battery, and inverter, we will be providing a source of electricity that is both clean and renewable.  This will allow researchers, instructors, and students to use an existing structure for overnight visits.  The solar installation will reduce carbon emissions by directly powering equipment using solar power, but also dramatically reduce the number of van-hours transporting students back and forth to Santa Cruz.

  • UV LED Filtration

    Allocated funds: $600

    This project has been awarded a Carbon Fund grant to help create a scalable, self contained water filtration system using UV LED technology. The project aims to move to create a system capable of providing potable water to both off grid homes and small rural communities.

  • Vermicomposting Worm Bins

    Allocated funds: $500

    Utilizing vermicomposting will help reduce food waste in an efficiently and environmentally friendly way. In vermicomposting, worms are fed organic wastes which are then converted into fertilizer that can be used as plant nutrients. This benefits waste management and provides an organic fertilizer that is beneficial to the growth of plants. This project will be incorporated into an ongoing Aquaponics research project and will ensure that waste from the greenhouse and other sources is composted and ultimately used as fertilizer to help the crops thrive.