Projects Funded in 2021-2022

Solar at Natural Reserves

Allocated Funds: $3,300

The solar system supports research and teaching efforts at a site that does not have electricity. This reduces emissions and gas purchases from gas generators.

Access to this system will have a direct impact on students and researchers in their ability to learn and conduct research.


Cal Teach E-Bikes

Allocated Funds: $2,500

The Cal Teach program helps to launch STEM undergraduate majors into teaching careers with coursework, mentorship, internships, and financial support.

The overall purpose of the Cal Teach E-Bikes project is to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation of Cal Teach undergraduate STEM majors traveling to and from middle and high school classrooms throughout Santa Cruz County.

The Cal Teach E-Bikes project will reduce barriers to transportation while mitigating climate change. Learn more here.


IMS E-Bike Fleet

Allocated Funds: $4,800

The purpose of this project is to reduce the carbon footprint of local transportation for graduate students, faculty, visiting researchers and staff running errands and traveling between the Coastal Science Campus and Main Campus through the purchase of two electric bikes.

This fuel savings is equivalent to eliminating 2.65 tons of CO2 emissions annually.


Replacing 2-stroke Engines with Electric at the UCSC Farm: Weed Wackers

Allocated Funds: $4,532

Replacing 2-stroke engines with electric equipment reduces greenhouse gas emissions and advances the Farm's work of agroecology and equitable food systems through experiential education, participatory research, agricultural extension, and public service.


LiFi Greenhouses

Allocated Funds: $5,000

The project uses a visible-light enabled IoT approach to monitor and control greenhouses. This project would reduce the amount of energy used to heat and cool glass houses, as well as reduce the amount of water used for plant growth.


Internet of Things (IoT) Connected Campus Energy Monitoring

Allocated Funds: $2,500

While more people lived and worked remotely during and after the Covid pandemic, many rooms remained unoccupied or under-utilized. Since the university has not updated temperature and lighting controls and scheduling to match use patterns, the goal of this project is to reduce energy waste from lighting and heating vacant spaces and buildings using IoT sensors.

Analysis of this data allows us to identify lighting, heating, and ventilation of unoccupied rooms and buildings. This information will be used to make changes in building management. These changes will improve occupancy comfort, reduce energy waste, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.


Farm Future

Allocated Funds: $2,253

The Farm Future project will test the upcycling of aquaculture effluent (wastewater that is high in nitrates and phosphates) to irrigate and fertilize soil-grown crops using wicking beds.

With this technology the aquaculture effluent has the potential to fully replace both irrigation water and synthetic fertilizers in agricultural production, reducing the carbon footprint and eutrophication potential of both agriculture and aquaculture. Learn more here.


Microbiological culture incubators

Allocated Funds: $12,130

Microbiological culture incubators are essential for supporting both lower and upper division biology laboratory courses.

The current microbiology incubators, were built some time ago and contain last generation fans, water jackets and electrical heating elements. Consequently, these units are less efficient than modern equivalents.

This project helps to mitigate climate change through consolidation of incubators and upgrading to new, more efficient technology. This project will save 10.63 tons of CO2 emissions over the first 25 years. Learn more here.


Carbon Sequestration, Dung Beetles, and Soil Microbes in Pasturelands

Allocated Funds: $8,945

In the 2020 fall grant cycle, the project principal investigator applied for a Carbon Fund grant to look at the effects of the tunneling dung beetle (Onthophagus taurus) on soil organic carbon and soil microbes that might increase carbon sequestration. This research is underway, and results from a related 2020 pilot study show that O.taurus do increase the abundance of soil microbes involved in carbon sequestration.

However, it is unknown whether a diversity of dung beetles, including tunnelers and dwellers (e.g. Onthophagus taurus and Aphodius) might have a stronger effect.

This project investigates the effects of dung beetle diversity on the soil microbial community, as well as soil organic carbon content, as indicators for soil carbon sequestration. It will also examine how management practices and landscape factors influence the diversity and abundance of dung beetles present on a ranch. Learn more here.


Energy Efficient Oil Free Vacuum Pumps for the UCSC Stable Isotope Laboratory

Allocated Funds: $25,000

Laboratories account for a 1/3rd of the energy consumption at UCSC while only being 1/5th of the square footage. The Earthand Marine Science Building (EMS) consumes the most electricity of any building on UCSC's campus. The Stable Isotope Laboratory (SiL) is one of few largest labs in EMS, both in terms of space and power consumption. The vacuum pumps in the lab use approximately 1% of the power at EMS.

This project uses funding to replace fifteen outdated, energy-intensive vacuum pumps in the UCSC SiL with new energy-efficient technology.

This project will pay for itself via energy cost savings in less than four years and will save 115 tons of CO2 over a decade. Learn more here.


Fog Water Collection for Critical Irrigation Needs at the UCSC Farm

Allocated Funds: $11.000

California is in a historic drought which may continue indefinitely and will likely become more extreme due to climate change. In spite of the potential stresses on coastal California communities, water from marine fog is not being used to its full potential.

The overall purpose of the project is to obtain information on the quantity of water that can be practically obtained from large fog collectors (LFCs) on a central California farm, what considerations maximize the volume of water collected per m2 of mesh, and how to best use the water collected from fog to protect perennial plants and orchards in times of extreme drought. Learn more here.


Physical Sciences Building Acetone Recycler

Allocated Funds: $18,258

The project uses funding to acquire an acetone recycling system to reduce solvent waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste of research funding by allowing acetone used in cleaning glassware to be regenerated in a form suitable for reuse.

Chemistry laboratories generally consume large quantities of acetone. A large proportion of discarded acetone contains only minor impurities, but it must still be treated as hazardous waste and is shipped to an off-site location to be incinerated. Using commercially available, robust, and efficient acetone recycling systems, this acetone could be efficiently recovered as relatively pure solvent from the moderately contaminated waste solutions.

In addition to providing a reduction in hazardous waste and solvent usage, the installation of an acetone recycler can have a positive effect on the Department's sustainability culture. The community-run nature of the recycling operation will ensure active engagement of students and faculty and will help to raise their awareness of the impact that solvent usage has on the environment (locally and globally), as well as on use of water and electricity. Learn more here.


Trial of Solar-Powered Public Waste Container System

Allocated Funds: $15,750

This project will run a trial of the BigBelly waste container system to evaluate its benefits, acceptability to the community, and financial savings.

At present, campus waste stations have a variety of container types that groundskeepers and/or recycling staff empty on a schedule, or when complaints are received. The stations have bins with plastic liners that have to be transported to dumpsters using electric carts, gasoline pickups, or larger trucks.

This BigBelly system uses solar-powered compactors to increase the capacity of waste materials and uses fullness indicators at outdoor container stations, thereby reducing the frequency that the containers need to be emptied. It also saves staff time by only requiring service when the sensors indicate.