2019-2020 Carbon Fund Projects Show Their Impact

September 24, 2021

By Tina Mathrani, Carbon Neutrality Fellow 


In the recent Covid impacted  school years, where multiple initiatives have staggered, the UCSC Carbon Fund still proved itself to be triumphant in awarding nearly $140k in sustainable projects. Of the 16 projects that made the funding cycle, there are a few notable projects led by students and employees that should be highlighted. 

For one, the 2019-2020 grant cycle funded a project called “Fleet Incentive for All Electric Sedans,” led by Fleet Manager for PPDO Theodore Diamantopoulos. According to Theo, all departments on campus have limited funds to allocate towards purchasing vehicles. Fleet Services is committed to sustainability and, over the past two years, when they have to purchase cars, they’ve only purchased hybrid sedans like Honda Insights and Nissan Altimas. Theo’s application requested that the Carbon Fund pay the difference in the upfront cost to upgrade the next five hybrid purchases to all electric Nissan Leafs. The funds would help save over 20,000 gallons of gasoline and 110 tons of CO2 emissions as the electric vehicles emit only two-fifths of the emissions of the hybrids.

This cycle introduced an another  important program to campus: The Green Labs Incentive
Program. This is thanks to the Carbon Fund supporting the Green Labs Program. The grant incentivizes the purchase of ten, -80 ultra low temperature Energy Star freezers at $2,000 a freezer. Julio Harvey and new freezersSmaller incentives are also available for -20 freezers and fridges. Since last year, seven freezers have already been incentivized across campus in labs and Dining. 

The Program in Community and Agroecology (PICA), managed by Compost Coordinator Claire Swetlin, provides educational opportunities for the entire campus community. PICA is a student-run and student-led organization where the leadership team coordinates the activities and events for UCSC students and the public. Through PICA’s weekly student-led workdays and quarterly workshops, UCSC students are able to gain hands-on experience in organic gardening and sustainable living skills. Additionally, the workshops increase education about food waste and influence students’ behavior choices regarding the way they engage with their food scraps. Claire utilized blog posts during Covid to continue to spread compost education out across the campus and the greater community.

Overall, the 2019-2020 grant cycle created great momentum in the pursuit of sustainability even during trying times. View past annual reports here for a deeper look into each awarded micro and macro project. There are many more project proposals the Carbon Fund Committee considers every year and, this year, the committee has successfully been able to allocate funding despite being entirely remote. As classes ramp back up this month, the Carbon Fund Committee will be reconvening to create the 2020-2021 annual report and begin taking new applications. Submit your idea by November 11th to earn a chance to reap the rewards of making our campus more sustainable!