The Carbon Fund Celebrates 10 Years

UCSC’s Carbon Fund has officially been sponsoring sustainability and innovation projects for over ten years!

June 23, 2022

By Ellen Vaughan 

1carbon-fund-logo.pngIn 2006, UCSC students originally designated a $3.00 a quarter fee towards purchasing offsets to mitigate UCSC’s carbon footprint.
In 2010, the student community decided to alter the fee to keep the funds in-house and create a granting opportunity for all faculty, staff, and students to propose and implement sustainable projects across campus. The Fund now has approximately $130,000 to spend annually. 

Over the years, a predominately student run Carbon Fund Committee has granted out approximately $1.5 million to over 175 projects!

There are multiple projects all across campus that you might not even know were funded by the Carbon Fund. Some examples of projects that have been saving UCSC resources for over six years include:

  • Athletic & Recreation’s Wellness Center rainwater harvesting system
  • Multiple LED retrofits including our outdoor pathway lights
  • Energy & water efficient dishwasher in Cowell Dining
  • The electric vehicle charging stations at Fleet Services
  • The upgrade of multiple Grounds equipment from gas power to electric
  • The efficient refrigeration at Kresge Natural Foods Cooperative
  • Multiple grants to improve the composting, operations, and educational outreach for Program in Community and Agroecology (PICA)

PICA's compost bins


The Carbon Fund has even partnered with the region to help implement major renewable energy advancements. For
Student utilizing fish effluent as fertilizers
example, they contributed to a partnership that assessed the environmental and economic benefits of creating a regional Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) and Joint Powers Authority (JPA) within the greater Monterey region, by conducting a Phase 1 Technical Study. That study ultimately resulted in the adoption of the Central Coast Community Energy - 3CE (formerly known as Monterey Bay Community Power). This CCA is responsible for providing our region with exceptional quantities of clean energy, storage, and electrification rebates.

Exciting projects the Carbon Fund approved this year include a student project to use fisheffluent as fertilizer, research on dung beetles to see if they could enhance carbon sequestration on our local pasture land, fog water collection at the Center for Agroecology,
a project where students utilize the IoT (Internet of Things) to improve our building automation, and resource intensive laboratory upgrades of vacuum pumps, incubators, and autoclaves. 

This initiative wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of the predominantly student Carbon Fund committee. A huge “thank you” is owed to all our current and past committee members and student Carbon Fund coordinators.

The Sustainability Office quarterly Lunch & Learn this Spring quarter, celebrated these impressive ten years with our first in-person event since the pandemic began. It was a lovely gathering where a few Carbon Fund recipients shared their projects and folks present learned a bit more of this amazing source of funds to make our campus, a better campus! 
We also celebrated Elida's 10+ years of amazing service at the Sustainability Office, with a surprise at the end of the Carbon Fund Lunch & Learn.

The Carbon Fund committee is looking forward to reading your proposal for their next application cycle! Submit by November 7, 2022 to be considered. 

To learn more about Carbon Fund, visit the Carbon Fund webpage and to see all Carbon Fund's past projects, view our annual reports.