The UC San 2017 Sustainability Awards recognized individuals and groups that have made the campus more sustainable. Hosted by the campus Sustainability Office, the awards honored six recipients for their efforts to share information about and prioritize sustainability in UC San Diego’s education, research, planning, and operations and outreach programs.
“This year’s Sustainability Award recipients have gone above and beyond to support and advocate for practices and procedures that meet campus and community needs while maintaining UC San Diego’s commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Gary C. Matthews, Vice Chancellor for Resource Management and Planning. “I would like to thank the awardees for their dedicated, innovative and positive contributions to campus sustainability.”
Information about recipients and their contributions is listed below:
- Campus Vendor: My Green Lab
My Green Lab is a California non-profit organization that fosters collaboration between scientists, vendors, designers and energy providers to improve the sustainability of scientific research. It provides UC San Diego with the Green Lab Assessment Tool to indicate the sustainability of campus laboratories and helps implement strategies to reduce resource consumption while preserving safety and research quality. In fall 2015, My Green Lab established a Green Labs team comprising staff, students and principal investigators from campuses throughout the UC system, including UC San Diego. Thanks to this team, over 20 UC San Diego labs have completed the Green Labs Certification, and an additional 13 labs are currently in progress. As part of these processes, the team has installed new aerators, adjusted freezer temperatures and monitored the use of outlet timers to save over 1.3 million gallons of water and thousands of KWh of energy each year. The Green Labs team has also designed new recycling signage in order to encourage laboratory waste diversion as part of the campus’s 2020 zero waste goal.
- Department: Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions (IPPS)
Through IPPS, UC San Diego implemented a supplier sustainability assessment scorecard—a strategy which is now being implemented throughout the University of California system. In recognition of this accomplishment, IPPS was invited by the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council to participate in a keynote panel discussion regarding their development of the scorecard. Additionally, in support of the UC system’s 2020 zero waste goal, IPPS has partnered with laboratory supply and distribution companies Fisher scientific and VWR to institute reusable pallet programs, which will divert approximately 20 tons of waste from landfills annually. IPPS is also beginning an initiative with UC San Diego’s Sports Facilities to recycle nitrile gloves. The project aims to divert over six tons of gloves from landfills and save over $1,800 in disposal fees.
- Faculty: Professor Seth Cohen
Seth Cohen, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, began a partnership with UC San Diego Environment, Health & Safety to test, validate and ultimately acquire a critical water saving device called the Findenser in laboratories throughout campus. The Findenser is an air condenser that does not require running water to operate. It saves up to 1,200 liters of water every day, allowing the university to conserve thousands of gallons of water each year and reduce the probability and cost of laboratory flooding. Thanks to Cohen’s efforts, UC San Diego was awarded a Water Conservation Award from the County of San Diego in 2016. He accepted the award on behalf of the campus during the County’s Earth Day celebrations.
- Staff: Alison Sanchirico
Alison Sanchirico served as chair of the Staff Sustainability Network (SSN), an organization that allows UC San Diego staff to share information about, discuss and collaborate on sustainability and outreach projects. She volunteered as a member of the SSN for many years and served on the executive board multiple times. As chair, Sanchirico coordinated the SSN’s programming, organizing tours of campus sites, tabling events, sponsor demonstrations and funding of an annual grant for staff sustainability projects. Her commitment to the SSN helped UC San Diego work towards its goals of carbon neutrality and waste reduction, and educated other staff members on campus about how to support these goals. Sanchirico recently left the university to pursue a full-time sustainability position with another organization.
- Undergraduate Student: Mukta Kelkar
Mukta Kelkar is a fourth year Environmental Systems, Ecology, Behavior and Evolution major with a minor in Marine Studies and a passion for environmentalism. In her free time, she works at a lab at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and has been involved with the Student Sustainability Collective for four years, where she is currently serving as the director of fossil fuel divestment. Determined to reduce UC San Diego’s carbon footprint, Kelkar has worked on projects to ban plastic water bottles, increase sustainable transportation methods and divest from fossil fuels. Her advocacy for renewable energy paid off last year when UC San Diego’s Academic Senate passed a resolution for fossil fuel divestment, making UC San Diego the second UC campus to do so.
- Student Group: Food Recovery Network (FRN)
The Food Recovery Network (FRN) is a student organization that provides a joint solution to food waste and food insecurity by recovering unwanted food and donating it to those in need. In fall 2016, undergraduate student co-presidents Sara Rupp and Chaz Woxland began working to develop the internal infrastructure of the group. Thanks to their efforts, the FRN has grown from a grassroots effort with 10 volunteers to an organization of over 100 volunteers that partners with two campus fraternities, as well as UC San Diego’s Housing, Dining & Hospitality, Faculty Lounge and Farmer’s Market. Since spring 2016, the FRN has recovered 6,000 pounds of food, diverting waste from landfills and feeding approximately 80 homeless youth each week. The group also educates the campus, Price Center vendors, and its partners about local food insecurity and waste through social media and public presentations.
For more information about sustainability at UC San Diego, visit the sustainability website.