UCR Earns Spot On Sierra Magazine “Cool Schools” List For Third Year

(This article contains excerpts from an article published in UCR Today on August 12, 2014.)

For the third consecutive year, Sierra Magazine has included the University of California, Riverside on its list of “America’s Coolest Schools”, which is a list of the nation’s greenest colleges and universities.  UCR finished with a score of 577.98 out of a possible 1,000 points, placing it 90th among the schools surveyed. UCR’s score improved about 12% compared to 2013.

Members of the sustainability community at UCR stand in front of a balloon representing the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere during Earth Week 2014. Photo credit:  Uma Ramasubramanian

Members of the sustainability community at UCR stand in front of a          balloon representing the amount of carbon dioxide entering the                                          atmosphere during Earth Week 2014.                               Photo credit: Uma Ramasubramanian

The methodology as to how Sierra Magazine ranked all of the participating schools was extensive and thorough.  According to Sierraclub.org, “Participation in Sierra magazine’s Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year, degree-granting undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. Sierra received 173 complete responses from qualified colleges. Once schools submitted their data, our researchers scored each response and ranked all of the participating institutions.

There was no cost for participation, and no affiliation or relationship between a school and the Sierra Club or its employees, past or present, influenced the ranking. Evaluation was based primarily on schools’ responses to the survey but when appropriate, we made follow-up inquires by phone and email and used publicly available outside sources to verify and complement survey responses.”

The colleges at the top of our annual “Cool Schools” ranking are so dedicated to greening every level of their operation—from energy usage to recycling to food sourcing to curriculum.  Photo credit: sierraclub.org

The colleges at the top of our annual “Cool Schools” ranking are so dedicated to greening every level of their operation—from energy usage to recycling to food sourcing to curriculum. Photo credit: sierraclub.org

UC Riverside has made this list two other times, moving up the ranks with each appearance.  Officials at UCR expect to gain an even better position on next year’s list with 16 LEED buildings and a new Solar Farm in operation.

Through commitment and dedication, UCR is always improving and making strides in becoming a green machine.  Exemplifying Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar, UCR values the cultivation and support of innovation within our community acting as a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

To read more from UCR Today, click here.

 

 

Riverside Unified School District Teachers Go On Arctic Expedition

(This article contains excerpts from rusdlink.org and the Arctic’s Edge Facebook page.)

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After collecting samples from four ponds along Lindy Trail this morning, the team “chills” on the tundra. Photo credit: Arctic’s Edge

Eight Riverside Unified School District teachers went on an Arctic Expedition this summer. With an Earthwatch fellowship made possible through the Riverside Educational Enrichment Foundation (REEF).

The adventurers include: Stephanie  Niechayev from Arlington High School; JulieOlson from Chemawa Middle school; Melinda Lang from Madison Elementary School; Erin Garcia from University Heights Middle School; Suzanne Priebe from Earhart Middle School; Tammy Soper from Sierra Middle School; Carla Yawney from Kennedy Elementary School; and Kristin Kund from Poly High School.

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Photo credit: Arctic’s Edge

The expedition team from RUSD exemplifies Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar.  Not only were they able to gather valuable research and data, they are now able to share the findings with their students. This experience gives students the opportunity to take their eyes out of the books briefly and connect with teachers in a fun and interesting way.

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Photo credit: Arctic’s Edge

The teachers departed for their trip on July 9 and were gone through July 20. They travelled to Manitoba, Canada to measure evidence of global warming. The objective was to take water samples; assess the abundance of fish and frogs, and monitor the health of trees in the area. Teachers spent the mornings collecting data, worked in labs in the afternoons, and attended lectures in the evenings.

To read more, click here.

 

Device Eliminates 93 Percent of Lawnmower Pollutant

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Sean Nealon, published in UCRToday on July 7, 2014.)

Students create device that cuts harmful emissions from lawnmowers, which emit 11 times the air pollution of a new car for each hour of operation

A team of University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering students have won an EPA student design contest for a device they created that curbs harmful pollutant emitted from lawnmowers by 93 percent.

From left, Wartini Ng, Timothy Chow, Kawai Tam, Jonathan Matson and Brian Cruz. Photo Credit: UCR Today

From left, Wartini Ng, Timothy Chow, Kawai Tam, Jonathan Matson and Brian Cruz. Photo Credit: UCR Today

The students developed the device – an “L” shaped piece of stainless steel that attaches to the lawnmower where its muffler was – because small engine devices produce significant harmful emissions. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a gasoline powered lawn mower emits 11 times the air pollution of a new car for each hour of operation.

The students’ device also fits in with UC President Janet Napolitano’s recent announcement to make the University of California system carbon neutral by 2025. With that in mind, employees responsible for maintaining the lawns at UC Riverside have agreed to pilot the students’ device. That will likely start in the coming months.

The device can be thought of as a three stage system. First, a filter captures the harmful pollutants. Then an ultra-fine spray of urea solution is dispersed into the exhaust stream. The urea spray primes the dirty air for the final stage, when a catalyst converts the harmful nitrogen oxide and ammonia into harmless nitrogen gas and water and releases them into the air.

The device created by the student team being attached to a lawnmower. Photo credit: UCR Today

The device created by the student team being attached to a lawnmower. Photo credit: UCR Today

The University of California, Riverside is clearly dedicated to making a positive impact on the environment, and exemplifies Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The students and professors collaborate to address issues, which lead to more inventive and multi-disciplinary approaches. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas and research. Riverside is setting the bar as a Catalyst for Innovation in many ways.

The incoming team will work to further improve the device. Possible areas for refinement including scaling it up so that it could be used with rider lawnmowers and develop a way to insulate it.

To read the full article, click here.

UC Riverside To Lead New Energy Frontier Research Center Project

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Kris Lovekin, published in UCR Today on June 18, 2014)

The project “SHINES” will receive $12 million from the Department of Energy to pursue fundamental advances in energy production, storage, and use.

Jing Shi, a professor of physics and astronomy, to lead the SHINES initiative.  Photo Credit: UC Riverside

Jing Shi, a professor of physics and astronomy, to lead the SHINES initiative. Photo Credit: UC Riverside

University of California, Riverside is always leading the way in research and technology.  The SHINES project is a great representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  Collaborating with the Department of Energy for the SHINES project is an outstanding opportunity for the research team at UCR to showcase it’s talents and innovative spirit.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

A UC Riverside-led research project is among the 32 named today by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz as an Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), designed to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st-century energy economy in the United States.

SHINES is one of 10 new projects announced today, along with 22 other projects receiving new funding based on achievements to date. The Department of Energy announced a total of $100 million in funding to support fundamental advances in energy production, storage, and use.

SHINES will investigate several aspects of basic research: new ultrathin films, nanostructured composites, high resolution imaging, the transport of electrical signals, heat and light. “All of it will be studied, modeled and simulated in order to help the nation’s ability to advance in the way we use energy,” said Shi, the lead researcher.

To read the full article, click here.

 

UCR Launches Largest Renewable Energy Project In California

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Aaron Grech, published in the Highlander News on June 3, 2014)

One of the most visible partners of the Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) is the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), which has begun a project to create a renewable energy research center that will study the integration of renewable energy sources such as an electrical smart grid that can help with charging electric cars and storing energy. The project, called the Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative, will be the largest of its kind in California.  The UCR Bourns College of Engineering is at the forefront of renewable energy research.  The students and faculty are committed to developing state of the art technology to harness renewable energy on a much larger scale.  Riverside is working everyday to embrace intelligent growth within all facets of the community.

Photo credit:  UCR Today

Photo credit: UCR Today

Most energy supplied through current grids operates on a one-way interaction that distributes electricity from the grid to other structures such as buildings and houses. This makes it difficult to keep up with changing energy demands, and does not run on as many renewable energy sources.

Smart grids, on the other hand, can integrate technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels to provide cleaner energy sources, and also create energy storage because of their unique feedback system. As a result, grids can easily adapt to changing demands and cut electricity costs through storing surplus energy. In addition, the grids can also be used to supply energy to electric vehicles through charging stations that are connected to them.

“The project has implications for the nation and the world,” stated BCOE Dean Dr. Reza Abbaschian. If successful, this research aims to develop cleaner and more efficient ways to produce electricity and may eventually lead to other similar projects in the U.S.  According to Dr. Matthew Barth, the lead investigator of the initiative and director of CE-CERT, “The project puts UC Riverside at the forefront of smart grid and electric vehicle research, providing a unique platform for engineers and utilities to identify and solve potential problems.”

Brandon Prell, a second-year cellular and molecular biology major, believes that research on renewable energy is needed, in order for “the planet to continue developing.” He said that a smart grid will bring a change to that by modernizing outdated methods that may cause even further harm to the environment.

To read the full article, click here.

These Roofs Can Clean The Air

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Michael Franco, published on cnet.com on June 4, 2014.)

Students at UC Riverside have created a cheap coating that can go on ordinary clay roofing tiles to bust smog.

Roofing tiles protect homes from the environment, reflecting heat from the sun and keeping rainwater rolling away into gutters. Thanks to work done by students at the University of California at Riverside, however, roof shingles may soon be protecting the environment itself.

Photo credit: UC Riverside

Photo credit: UC Riverside

A team there coated off-the-shelf clay roofing tiles with titanium dioxide, a compound found in “everything from paint to food to cosmetics,” according to the researchers. They then placed the coated tiles into a mini atmosphere chamber they built out of wood, Teflon, and PVC pipes. The chamber was filled with nitrogen oxide and beamed with ultraviolet light to mimic the sun. Nitrogen oxides are compounds in the air that are responsible for causing smog.

What they found was that the coating on the tiles removed between 88 percent and 97 percent of the nitrogen oxides. This led them to calculate that an average-size residential roof coated with their titanium dioxide mixture could break down the same amount of smog-producing nitrogen oxides per year put out by a car driven 11,000 miles. They further calculated that 21 tons of nitric oxide could be eliminated every day if tiles on 1 million roofs got the coating.

And the price for the simple yet powerful smog-busting coating? Just about $5 to cover an average-sized roof.  The students on the team that executed the research and developed the titanium dioxide coating are graduating in the fall, but are hopeful that new students will take over their work and test other factors.

The team at UCR that developed this smog buster is a model of seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. Being that this project is so inexpensive and attainable, it has great potential for everyone to do their part and start to clean the skies.  Riverside is setting the bar as a Catalyst for Innovation in many ways.

To read more, click here.

New West Campus Solar Farm To Provide Power To UC Riverside

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Ross French published in UCR Today on January 6, 2014)

When it comes online this summer, the 11-acre site will produce three megawatts of electricity

The sun has always been a major part of the identity of the University of California, Riverside, so much so that it is even incorporated into the school’s logo. But starting in the summer of 2014, the sun will be providing more than beautifully sunny days – it will also be providing electrical power to the campus and saving the university, and taxpayers, millions of dollars in the process.

UCR is partnering with SunPower Corporation to install a 10.92-acre solar farm on a West Campus open space surrounded by Parking Lot 30 and the UCR Community Garden to the south, the 60/215 freeway to the east and the International Village Apartments to the west. Upon completion, scheduled for July 2014, the facility will generate about three megawatts of electricity.

Despite covering nearly 11 acres on the West Campus, the new UCR solar farm will be largely hidden from the view of the general public. photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

Despite covering nearly 11 acres on the West Campus, the new UCR solar farm will be largely hidden from the view of the general public. photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

“Three megawatts is about 30% of our base load on a daily basis. Our peak load is 17 or 18 megawatts,” Ken Mueller, director of Physical Plant Operations said. “This is a good start and the campus will use 100% of the power that we generate.”

UCR is committed to becoming a green machine.  The new solar farm that will be going online this summer certainly exemplifies seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do in Riverside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

An example of how the solar farm might look. Photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

An example of how the solar farm might look. Photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

The project supports the system-wide University Policy on Sustainable Practices, which calls on each campus to contribute to the production of up to 10 megawatts of on-site renewable power by 2014, as well as campus-specific sustainability strategies detailed in UCR’s 2005 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). The UCR photovoltaic system will be the largest at any UC campus and, combined with other UCR-based projects, will increase photovoltaic generation within the city of Riverside by 40%.

“We have had very favorable electrical rates with Riverside Public Utilities, but recently the price of solar has come down to where it is competitive with that electrical rate,” Mueller said. “We will be getting the most cost-effective solar array on the market.”

To read more, click here.

 

Cool California City Challenge: Motivating Cities To Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

(This article contains excerpts from coolclimate.berkeley.edu)

The CoolCalifornia City Challenge is a competition between California cities to motivate and reward residents for reducing their carbon footprints and helping to build more vibrant communities.

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Participants track driving and home energy use to earn “green points” for having low greenhouse gas emissions compared to similar households and “bonus points” (worth 5 times the value of green points) for lowering emissions over time. Each point helps participants’ cities earn sustainability funding from Challenge sponsors. Teams of any size collaborate and compete against other teams.

 The Competition                                                                              

Cities were able to sign up for the program beginning in January with sign up closing on March 30th. In April, those cities that signed up to participate in the ‘City Challenge’ encouraged residents to sign up for the program at the CoolCalifornia Challenge Registration Page and Riversiders began tracking their household energy (natural gas and electricity) and motor vehicle emissions. Prize money will be awarded to all participating cities based on the number of new registered households by May 30.

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Here is the current scoreboard, Riverside is almost there! Photo credit: coolclimate.berkeley.ed

It’s not too late to get involved

Every resident in participating cities has the opportunity to contribute to the program. Within cities, households and groups of households will be recognized for their contributions to helping make cities green and more livable. These contributions include actions such as tracking and reducing energy consumption and vehicle miles. By signing up for the Challenge and reporting these actions, participants earn points, which further the standing of their city in the competition.

The program runs until the end of August, but residents need to sign up by May 30th!

The Cool California competition is a great model of seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  This is a great opportunity to collaborate and build stronger, more efficient communities. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

To read more about Cool California, click here.

Solar Power Goes To Work At UCR

(This article contains excerpts from an article by David Danelski, published in the Press-Enterprise on May 21, 2014.)

Even on a cloudy morning, a solar power system proved itself for its big unveiling Wednesday, May 21 in Riverside.  The system demonstrates that solar power can be harnessed, stored and consumed in a typical parking lot, powering electric vehicles and buildings and even contributing power to the grid. The project is in place at UC Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology on Columbia Avenue, where dignitaries gathered for a ceremony Wednesday.

UCR student Daniel Situ, right shows guests how the ac power for the building is cycled from unit to unit using lights during a Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative Opening Celebration under the solar panels at UCR Bourns College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology Wednesday in Riverside, CA. May 21, 2014. Photo credit: Terry Pierson

UCR student Daniel Situ, right shows guests how the ac power for the building is cycled from unit to unit using lights during a Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative Opening Celebration under the solar panels at UCR Bourns College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology Wednesday in Riverside, CA. May 21, 2014. Photo credit: Terry Pierson

The $10 million carbon-free energy system is a technical first for the nation, Ula said.  Photovoltaic panels are mounted on seven steel structures above about 200 parking spaces; the structures also provide shade for the cars. The power goes to three UCR buildings, including the research center’s administrative headquarters, as well as five charging stations for electric vehicles in the parking lot.

Electricity that is not consumed immediately is stored in two refrigerator-size batteries that provide power to the building after the sun goes down. Then, any leftover power goes to into the Riverside Public Utilities grid to be used elsewhere.

The project was made possible with a $2 million grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. UC Riverside invested $1 million and expects to recoup that cost in energy savings.  The solar panels were donated by SolarMax Technology, which moved its headquarters to Riverside in 2012. The two big batteries were donated by China-based Winston Battery.

UC Riverside’s  CE-CERT team is an outstanding representation of seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation.  Through commitment and dedication to technological research and expansion, UCR is becoming a leader in top green universities in the nation.  Riverside catalyzes profound discoveries and creativity in the arts, technology, and research.

To read more, click here.

 

UC Riverside Named To Princeton Review Green College List

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Ross French, published in UCR Today, on April 18,2014.)

Survey profiles schools that demonstrate exemplary commitments to sustainability in their academics, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation

The Princeton Review’s Guide to 332 Green Colleges: 2014 Edition, has recognized the University of California, Riverside as one of the top green colleges in North America. This survey was conducted in collaboration with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and appears in the annual, downloadable book that was released on April 17, 2014.

UC Riverside was one of 332 schools honored by the Princeton Review for its commitment to sustainability. Phot Credit: UCR Today

UC Riverside was one of 332 schools honored by the Princeton Review for its commitment to sustainability. Photo Credit: UCR Today

UCR received a green rating of 93 points out of a possible 99. UCR has appeared in the guide in each of the five years it has been published.  “UCR is proud to have been included once again in Princeton Review Green College Guide – our fifth year in a row to make it,” said Director of Sustainability John Cook. “Next year we will move the needle with 4 MW of on-site solar, 16 LEED Certified Buildings and a 3% reduction in overall potable water use.”

The Princeton Review chose the schools for this guide based on a 50-question survey it conducted in 2013 of administrators at hundreds of four-year colleges across the United States and Canada. Survey data included the schools’ course offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation to measure their commitment to the environment and to sustainability.

UC Riverside’s green initiative is an outstanding example of  the Seizing Our Destiny Pillar, catalyst for innovation.  By making this admirable list of green colleges all five years it has been published, UCR has established a reputation that many schools aspire to gain in the future.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do in Riverside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

To see the full article, click here.