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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.02
Liaison Sara McKinstry
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of California, San Diego
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 David Weil
Director of Sustainability and Carbon Neutrality
VC RMP/Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Air & Climate:

Carbon Neutrality Initiative Student Fellowships
Since 2014, UC San Diego has been awarded 4 fellowships per year to students to engage them in research related to carbon neutrality, including projects on green walls in buildings, anaerobic digestion, improving lighting sensors, and undering the impacts of climate change on the carbon uptake of coastal plants.

USGBC LEED Classroom
Staff work with students to engage them in learning about LEED (New Construction, Commercial Interiors and Operations & Maintenance), including having the students assist with LEED paperwork and tracking. In February 2018, UC San Diego worked with the US Green Building Council and Energize Colleges to kickoff an official LEED classroom class co-taught by staff in Capital Program Management and Sustainability.

Solar Chill
With funding and support from the Vice Chancellor for Research Management and Planning, the Sustainability Programs Office, and several area businesses, the student organization Engineers for a Sustainable World designed and installed a solar-powered outdoor study table and seating near the UC San Diego Rady School of Management. The project was finished in 2016. http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/feature/a_day_in_the_sun

Sky Imagers
UC San Diego students are working with Professor Jan Kleissl from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering to build and deploy Sky Imagers, a ground-based short term solar forecasting system that provides solar plant operators and electric system operators with information about upcoming adjustments to power output. Clouds are tracked through the sky and shadows are projected to the ground where the fluctuating solar power output may impact voltage regulation equipment. This technology helps anticipate and mitigate such impacts and facilitates the expansion of solar power. UC San Diego’s undergraduate and graduate engineering students oversaw the instrumentation development from concept to a pre-commercial device with deployments at UC San Diego, LA, Maui and, potentially, Spain. UC San Diego Rady School of Management MBA students joined this living laboratory by supporting the commercialization of university research. They solicited feedback from customers and worked with scientists and engineers to develop plans for commercialization of their research. The Sky Imager has already received accolades and has won a US Department of Energy award.

Weather Monitoring Stations
UC San Diego students have designed, built and deployed a network of five weather-monitoring stations as a key step toward helping the university use ocean breezes to cool buildings and identify the sunniest rooftops to expand its solar power. Two professors at the Jacobs School of Engineering, Jan Kleissl and Paul Linden, and two from the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), Doug Palmer and Bill Hodgkiss, are mentoring graduate and undergraduate students on the project. Grants from Wells Fargo & Company and campus groups enabled students to install the wireless weather stations on campus rooftops and poles to study their performance. Wells Fargo is funding several sustainability projects at UC San Diego, including $20,000 for the weather-monitoring stations. “This important energy management project at UCSD will help to protect our environment, save energy resources and save costs to consumers,” said Barry Neal, director of Environmental Finance at Wells Fargo. To learn more about UC San Diego Weather Monitoring Station information, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IsTgh5PMGD0


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Buildings:

The U.S. Green Building Council Student Group at UCSD (USGBC) has worked with UC San Diego to green buildings on campus. Using the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, students have helped certify buildings on campus, including the Mission Bay Aquatics Center, the Sustainability Resource Center, and the Recreation, Intramural, and Athletics Complex (RIMAC) building. Students are currently helping to develop a LEED OM Master Site, along with helping with the LEED paperwork for the new North Torrey Pines Living Learning Neighborhood.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Energy:

Faculty and staff collaborate often with students to study and campus environment and use it as a living lab to test new innovations in sustainability. For example:

Students work with the Sustainability Program Office to help labs save energy under our Green Labs Program and help offices save energy under our Green Office Certification program. Students also work with Facilities Management staff on energy efficiency and conservation projects across campus.

Sustainability Programs Office and Facilities Management staff, and faculty and staff from Urban Studies and Planning, are working with students at Roger's Garden and students who are Carbon Neutrality Initiative fellows to implement and improve an anaerobic digestor at Roger's Garden that is turning coffee grounds and other organic waste into energy: http://ncgardenucsd.com/

Additional projects include students working with professors and researchers to develop innovative ways to save energy on campus:

- Sleep Server is a project of the UC San Diego Microelectronic Embedded Systems Laboratory at the Computer Science and Engineering department. Computer scientists partnered with Microsoft Research to create a plug-and-play hardware prototype for personal computers that induces a new energy saving state known as “sleep talking.” Normally, PCs can be in either awake mode—where they consume power even if they are not being used—or in a low power sleep mode—where they save substantial power but are essentially inactive and unresponsive to network traffic. The new sleep talking state provides much of the energy savings of sleep mode and some of the network and Internet-connected convenience of awake mode. The primary researcher who developed the SleepServer is Yuvraj Agarwal who began his research as a UC San Diego computer science Ph.D. student. UC San Diego computer science and engineering professors Rajesh Gupta and Stefan Savage served as his advisors. Agarwal now advises several graduate and undergraduate students on this efficiency project as it is being deployed and monitored UC San Diego. To learn more about Sleep Servers visit http://mesl.ucsd.edu/yuvraj-old/research/sleepserver.html#faq.

Dr. Shirley Meng of the Nanonengineering Department at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering runs the Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion (LESC); http://smeng.ucsd.edu/. She and her team of students do innovative battery storage research that contributes greatly to our our knowledge as we expand our own on-campus solar and micogrid-connected battery storage network: https://rmp.ucsd.edu/strategic-energy/storage.html


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Food & Dining:

Student employees and interns work with UC San Diego Housing and Dining on a variety of sustainability projects, including measuring and assessing waste through trash sorts and analyzing waste purchases and services. The students have helped increase the number of reusable mugs used to purchase coffee and have proposed ways to mitigate plastic from dining services procurement and their waste stream. Students have also made recommendations and managed Fair Trade Policies and marketing for campus dining services. Students also own and operate a vegetarian food co-op called the Food Co-Op. In 2018, Dining launched a new Food Ambassadors program in which they hire students to learn about sustainable food and what Dining is doing to become more sustainable so that they can teach other students.

Since 2014, UC San Diego each year has awarded four students at UC Global Food Initiative Fellowship to work with Dr. Keith Pezzoli and his team on a variety of on and off-campus food system, urban agriculture and food insecurity related research, including conducting research in on-campus student-run gardens.

University Centers, which houses several national franchise restaurants, has a student focused solely on sustainability, including helping restaurants become Green Restaurant Association certified. Their first restaurant, Santorini Grill, was certified in 2016.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Grounds:

UC San Diego has 5 on-campus gardens in which students work with staff and/or faculty to grow native plants, trees, and produce. Students also working with Facilities Management, the Sustainability Program Office, and an outside consultant on a LEED OM Master Site for the University, including drafting IPM and Site Management policies.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Purchasing:

A student is working with the Corporate Responsibility Analyst in Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions to research the total cost of ownership on department printer replacements.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Transportation:

Students have actively worked with staff to develop a bicycle master plan for campus that has resulted in several new permanent bike paths. Students also helped to create a UC San Diego Transportation Task Force to find alternative ways for students to commute to campus such biking, busing, and carpooling.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Waste:

Facilities Management and the Sustainability Program Office have a student employee working on all things zero waste, including assisting in analyzing data needed to update the University's zero waste plan and in creating recycling signage for on-campus residence halls and off-campus apartments. Students are also working with staff to research the possibility of installing a larger scale anaerobic digestor for campus and the surrounding community and to research cost-effective ways to improve diversion rates during spring student moveout. Finally, students work with several departments on campus -- from Housing/Dining/Hospitality to Sustainability -- to test and refine new outreach and behavior change strategies around waste minimization, recycling and composting. Efforts include clothing swaps, RecycleMania, and more.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Water:

Students work with faculty and staff at UC San Diego to update the university's water action plan and implement several water conservation strategies underneath it, from testing new faucet aerators in laboratories to designing and installing rain barrels on campus.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Coordination & Planning:

Undergraduate and graduate students actively participate on a number of UC San Diego sustainability-focused committees, including the Sustainability Advisory Council. Students have also conducted research on how to improve the effectiveness of groups like the UC-wide Faculty Education and Engagement Pillar of the UC Global Climate Leadership Council.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Diversity & Affordability:

The Associated Students Associate Vice President of Diversity and team interns focus on campus diversity and affordability. Some of their goals are to establish active communication between Associated Students and the greater UC San Diego and San Diego communities; organize campaigns on a variety of issues to increase diversity awareness and social justice to promote a more cohesive campus community; collaborate with the Campus Community Centers, International Center, and Office for Students with Disabilities on events; and promote SPACES, OASIS, AS Alliance Commission, and AS Women's Commission. These resources have been created and can be utilized by students on campus.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Investment & Finance:

In response to student demand, In September 2014, the University of California announced it became a signatory of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, the first American public university to join the leading international network of institutional investors committed to including environmental, social and governance factors in their investment decision making. The UC System also joined Ceres (a climate network aimed at investors) and began the process for hiring a Director of Sustainability in the CIO office with the plan of building a small staff to focus on sustainable investing.

http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/university-california-joins-un-supported-principles-responsible-investment

In 2014, the University System of California (of which UCSD is part) also announced it would be:

- Allocating $1 billion over five years for direct investments in solutions to climate change.

- Establishing and implementing a framework for sustainable investment with the goal of completion by the end of the current fiscal year (June 30, 2015)

- Integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors as a core component of portfolio optimization and risk management.

- Evaluating all strategies for achieving ESG goals as soon as practical, including whether to use divestment.

http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/governance/policies/6301.html
http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/governance/policies/6302.html
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/uc-combat-climate-change


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Public Engagement:

In December 2015, 15 physical scientists, political scientists, and students from UC San Diego were part of the University of California delegation to the 21st Conference of the Parties, more commonly known as COP 21, held under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Students are also active presenters and participants at the annual California Higher Education and Sustainability Conference (CHESC). Finally, UC San Diego students are actively involved in a variety of sustainability and social innovation research projects, from just over the border in Mexico to Africa and beyond. Many students participate in the annual Climate Global Initiative conference and have received UC San Diego social innovation grants to conduct this research both on and off campus. https://students.ucsd.edu/student-life/involvement/community/social-innovation/


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Wellbeing & Work:

Students working at The Zone, a student lounge that encourages health and well-being, have been promoting a healthy student community. They host events that promote student development for a healthy lifestyle and introduce well-being resources to other students. Some events include yoga, stress relief techniques, and meditation sessions. They also help students connect environmental and human health through events during Earth Week. Students interns work at The Zone to educate the campus community.

Students are also actively involved in research and programs to foster health and wellness, food security, and the meeting of basic student needs on campus through programs like the Global Food Initiative, the Healthy Campus Network, and the Triton Food Pantry on campus (which students helped to launch and run).

http://www.ucop.edu/global-food-initiative/student-involvement/index.html

https://basicneeds.ucsd.edu/triton-food-pantry/


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to other areas (e.g. arts & culture or technology)?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to other areas:

N/A


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Other contacts: Jennifer Bowser, Emily Trask, Sara McKinstry, Allyson Long

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.