UC Riverside Hosts Lecture On Hydraulic Fracturing Technology

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Iqbal Pittalwala, published in UCRToday on April 1, 2014.)

Fracking, the hydraulic fracturing technology by which shale rocks are fractured by a pressurized liquid to release oil and natural gas, is controversial with proponents citing an increase in domestic oil production and lower gas prices, and opponents voicing environmental concerns and worries over small tremors that have sometimes followed fracking.

An illustration of hydraulic fracturing and related activities. Photo Credit: US Environmental Protection Agency

An illustration of hydraulic fracturing and related activities.
Photo Credit: US Environmental Protection Agency

On Wednesday, April 9, Susan L. Brantley, a distinguished professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, will give a free public lecture at the University of California, Riverside in which she will discuss fracking’s impact on water.

“In Pennsylvania, shale gas is accessed at depths of thousands of feet while drinking water is extracted from depths of only hundreds of feet. Nowhere in the state have fracking compounds injected at depth been shown to contaminate drinking water,” Brantley and a colleague wrote last year in an opinion piece in the New York Times.  Brantley is the director of Penn State’s Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. She joined the university in 1986, and was named distinguished professor in 2008. She was educated at Princeton University, receiving her B.A. magna cum laude in chemistry in 1980, an M.A. in geological and geophysical sciences in 1983, and a Ph.D. in the same field in 1987.

Susan L. Brantley is a distinguished professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University. Photo Credit: Pennsylvania State University

Susan L. Brantley is a distinguished professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University. Photo Credit: Pennsylvania State University

UC Riverside’s involvement and role in raising awareness of the potential dangers of fracking represents intelligent growth in our community.  The use of fracking has become a highly controversial subject over the past couple of years.  Although the issue isn’t taking place in our beloved city, it is a concern that the whole nation is debating.  UC Riverside is promoting intelligent growth beyond their borders to improve quality of life throughout the nation, to ensure a safe environment for the future.

To read the full article, click here.


How Closely Are Water And Energy Linked?

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Iqbal Pittalwala, published in UCR Today on March 31,2014.)

UC Riverside to observe World Water Day on April 3 with symposium focused on water-energy nexus

California is facing its most severe drought in decades. Governor Jerry Brown has asked each state agency to reduce its water consumption by 20 percent over the next year.  Recently, University of California President Janet Napolitano urged each UC campus to take drought response measures aimed at reducing short-term water consumption.

The 2014 World Water Day had water and energy as its theme.  Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The 2014 World Water Day had water and energy as its theme. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

To observe World Water Day, the University of California, Riverside is hosting a symposium on April 3 in Room 240, Orbach Science Library. Extending from noon to 4 p.m., the symposium is free of charge and open to the public.

“World Water Day, a United Nations initiative, is celebrated around the world with one theme chosen each year,” said Ariel Dinar, the director of UC Riverside’s Water Science and Policy Center (WSPC), which is hosting the symposium. “It is apt that the theme this year is water and energy.  A significant amount of energy goes to move and pump water.  Therefore, saving water will save energy and saving energy will save water.  This nexus is very important in semi-arid regions such as California.  UCR has several researchers and graduate students working on the water-energy nexus.  We expect in this symposium to raise awareness of the linkage between water and energy so that both resources can be conserved and used in an optimal way today and in the future.”

A number of experts will give short talks at the symposium. They will cover a wide range of water- and energy-related topics, including renewable energy, using marginal land to produce biodiesel, energy considerations needed when purifying water for potable reuse, and how the Emirate of Dubai makes decisions related to water and energy.

The World Water Day symposium that will take place at UC Riverside exemplifies the seizing our destiny pillar catalyst for innovation.   Creating and redeveloping processes to attain  and retain energy resources is one the most important subjects of our future.  Since most forms of energy require the use of water, the symposium at UCR will focus on  increasing efficiency with our water supply to prepare for energy demand in the future.  UCR’s commitment and efforts to raise awareness of the water and energy initiative illustrates itself to be a catalyst for innovation in our community, as well as the scientific community.

To read the full article, click here.

Longtime Supporters Leave $1.3 Million to Botanic Gardens

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Iqbal Pittalwala, published in UCR Today on February, 6, 2014)  

Victor(left) and Marjorie Goodman were longtime supporters of the Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: UCR Libraries.

Victor(left) and Marjorie Goodman were longtime supporters of the Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: UCR Libraries.

The Botanic Gardens of the University of California, Riverside will greatly benefit from a bequest of $1.3 million from Victor Goodman, who helped found the gardens, and his wife, Marjorie — both longtime supporters of the gardens.

The only museum on main campus open on weekends, the Botanic Gardens receive around 40,000 visitors a year.  Nestled in the foothills of the Box Springs Mountains on the east side of the UC Riverside campus, the gardens constitute a natural preserve, displaying plants, animals, birds and insects (especially butterflies) that thrive in inland Southern California.  This is one of many examples of community members who want to nurture Riverside’s beautiful scenery and do so with a financial commitment. The result is a gorgeous garden that helps make Riverside a location of choice.

A man walks through the Botanic Gardens at UCR.

A man walks through the Botanic Gardens at UCR.

“We are thrilled and grateful that the Botanic Gardens were remembered with such a significant gift,” said Jodie Holt, the divisional dean of agriculture and natural resources in UC Riverside’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. “With it we will be able to bring some key projects to completion and invest in additional maintenance of important plant collections. Additionally, this generous gift will enable us to make significant progress towards realizing the long range plan and financial security of the UCR Botanic Gardens.”

To read the full article, click here.

UC Riverside Intent On Setting A Green Example

(This article includes excerpts from an article written by Kris Lovekin, and published by UCR Today on February 5, 2014.)

A remodeled School of Medicine Education Building at UCR earns LEED Silver for Environmental Efficiency.  LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a nationally recognized benchmark for cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings, overseen by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council. And when they say “green,” they mean much more than installing insulation and energy-efficient windows.

UCR's School of Medicine Education Building.  Photo Credit: Ross French

UCR’s School of Medicine Education Building. Photo Credit: Ross French

UCR actively began seeking LEED certifications in 2012, and earned its first award—a LEED Gold certificate—for the new School of Medicine Research Building last year. It hopes to earn two more gold certificates for new construction this year with the 800-bed Glen Mor 2 dormitory and the Student Recreation Center, and a gold certificate for operation and maintenance in existing buildings at Glen Mor 1.  UC Riverside is not only setting high goals for sustainability, but they are achieving those goals.  With a commitment to setting a “green example”, UC Riverside is always finding ways to make Riverside a location of choice while encouraging intelligent growth. 

Installing an 11-acre solar farm later this summer will help UCR achieve its net zero goal, by producing an anticipated 6.6 million kilowatt hours of solar energy per year, all of which will be used on campus, and over 20 years, reduce its overall electricity costs. But Cook said it’s important to include all the ways sustainability can help when you are looking at the potential savings of going green.

To read the full article, click here. 


Riverside Citizen Science Partnership With Smithsonian

(This includes excerpts from the National Park Service RTCA Newsletter, Spring 2014 Edition)

Riverside, once renowned for its science community, is returning to its roots with the advent of the Riverside Citizen Science partnership. James Bryant, of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, and Rusty Russell, of the Smithsonian Institution, reached out to like-minded individuals to create Citizen Science Week.  The partners and community response was so favorable that the idea to make citizen science available to the community year round was pollinated.

Riverside is returning to its roots with the advent of the Riverside Citizen Science partnership. Photo Credit: James Bryant

Riverside is returning to its roots with the advent of the Riverside Citizen Science partnership. Photo Credit: James Bryant

A  working group was formed in 2011 to create a strategic plan to bring this vision to the community. The partnership coalesced to write several successful grants together, including a Proposition 84 Nature Education Facility Grant to fund the construction of the Ameal Moore Nature Center in Sycamore Canyon, where the heart of the citizen science activities will begin. Scheduled to open in spring 2014, the nature center will host citizen science programs, including a Bioblitz where participants have limited time to count species.  A healthy mixture of creativity and collaboration is the best way to encourage intelligent growth within a community.

The upcoming year of citizen activities will be coupled with technology and social media. The USDA Forest Service Pacific Research Station Forest Fire Laboratory at Riverside is working to create a social media platform where citizen scientists can create a profile on “My Sycamore Canyon” for sharing, discussion, and observations in the park.

Click here to read the full newsletter.

Community Quality of Life Survey Results Show Riverside Has Tremendous Pride; Positive Opinions about Opportunities for Education, Entertainment and Being Active

On Thursday, June 27, 2013, a full report by the research institution that conducted the Riverside Community Survey was presented to the Seizing Our Destiny Champions Council and other Riverside leaders. The purpose of the Survey was to gather, analyze and share actionable data about the opinions of Riversiders regarding their quality of life, and to spark community-wide engagement for improvements.

SOD Survey LogoThe Survey was conducted in conjunction with the Institute of Applied Research and Policy Analysis (IAR) at California State University, San Bernardino and was designed to be a research study measuring a sample of Riversiders that matched Census 2010 demographics, but that also allowed for widespread community input and engagement.

To achieve this, three survey methods were used in order to elicit information from a sample large enough to be analyzed by age, gender, home zip code and race/ethnicity: Phone, Online and Paper.  However, of the three, only the phone survey can be considered statistically valid because it is a random sampling of City of Riverside residents; those that had either a landline or cell phone had an equal chance of being contacted.  The Online and Paper versions were conducted to broaden participation and feedback and all three methods were available in English or Spanish.

Inarguably, the most critical feedback was extremely promising and optimistic: across racial/ethnic, age and income groups, residents have a tremendous feeling of pride in Riverside. In fact, 90.2% of all phone interview respondents strongly agreed or agreed that they are “proud to live in Riverside”, and 84.9%feel a sense of belonging to their community.”

“These results confirm what a lot of Riversiders know in their hearts – they love their city and they feel good about living here,” Mayor Rusty Bailey said. “The survey also provides valuable insight into where we can do better in changing conditions, perceptions or both.”

What other feedback does the survey provide to current and future leaders and influencers?

On the positive side, Riversiders think the city is a good place to raise a family and are happy with the schools and educational opportunities (with positive ratings for the full educational pipeline); they see their community as a good place for affordable living or to locate a business, to be active and healthy, and, by a sizeable majority, Riversiders see their community as a good place to enjoy and participate in arts and culture opportunities.

While it is important to celebrate the positive, some of the key feedback identified areas that could still use some attention or have Riversiders concerned.  Good or bad, in many instances, it seems to be a matter of communication.

For example, although a strong majority felt Riverside “is a good place to own or operate a business or nonprofit organization,” the perception of Riverside being business-friendly and the awareness of business/entrepreneur resources is not as strong as desired.  It is an area that City, Chamber and organizations such as the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) have made a priority over the past several years, but these results indicate that more creative methods of sharing information need to be explored.

Other areas that have made progress in some aspects, yet still have room for improvement include Riverside’s level of volunteerism and giving, neighborhood connectedness, and perceptions of air and water quality.

Of most concern to Riversiders is the progress made in addressing homelessness, lack of good jobs and the perception of safety in some geographic areas.

In response to these findings, Damien O’Farrell, one of the five Co-Chairs for Seizing Our Destiny, said “While we know we have made strides in some of the areas that are concerning residents and businesses, where the results of the survey are showing that we are falling short there’s still work to do together as a community of engaged Riversiders taking ownership in our own success - and these results will help guide our efforts.”

More detailed information and data supporting the key findings are included in the full report that can be downloaded at www.RiversideSurvey.com.

The complete report is being made available to the public so that community, civic, elected, neighborhood and faith-based leaders and institutions can use it to help guide their decisions about programs, services and community-building initiatives. However, for those that are just interested in the highlights, the cover memo to the report provides a summary of the findings with page numbers directing you to learn more about specific aspects.

Riverside McDonald’s Sustainability Efforts Receive National Attention

Demonstrating yet another example of Riverside as a location of choice for sustainability efforts and innovative business best-practices, the Wall Street Journal recently published the announcement that the McDonald’s restaurant located at 2242 University Avenue in Riverside had become the county’s first and only electric vehicle (EV) fast charge station with the installation of its Blink Direct Current (DC) Fast Charger.

McDonald's Riverside-Blink® Direct Current (DC) Fast ChargerThis restaurant is owned and operated by Tom and Candace Spiel and stood as a McDonald’s for 44 years. In 2010, it was completely rebuilt to operate in a more environmentally friendly way. As part of its continued path to greening, the restaurant partnered with ECOtality Inc., a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies, to provide the latest EV charge technology to customers. The restaurant will also have a standard Blink pedestal charging station available.

“It’s thrilling to be Riverside’s source for the latest in fast charge technology,” said Candace Spiel, McDonald’s owner/operator. “For us, it all comes down to being able to offer the Riverside community a better customer service experience and further demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship.”

In addition to the new Blink charging stations, current green features of this McDonald’s location include low flow plumbing fixtures saving approximately 250,000 gallons of water; native drought tolerant plants to reduce water consumption; permeable pavers to help divert about 283,000 gallons of rainfall from storm water systems; and solar panels that save approximately 8,950 kWH per month of utility usage, which is equal to the power usage of 13 average Riverside homes for one month. The restaurant also includes an interactive touch screen display for visitors to learn about the building’s features, environmental sustainability and how individuals can reduce their own carbon footprint.

To read the full article as published on the Wall Street Journal website, click here.

Riverside Loses a Community Hero

Ameal Moore, longtime community leader and advocate for Riverside to be a truly ‘Unified City’ passed away early on Monday, April 29, at home after a long battle with cancer.

Ameal Moore, 1934-2013

In a statement issued yesterday by Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, he described the three-term City Councilman as having “exhibited a quiet strength – a leadership style dependent upon sound decision making, thoughtful reason and building relationships – friendships,” and added, “Riverside is a better place because of his leadership.”

“He was a very dignified, quiet man who did a lot of good things in the background, especially when he was on the City Council, to help the community to be the community that it could be and should be,” said Rose Mayes, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County in an article written by Alicia Robinson and published on PE.com.

According to the Mayor’s statement, Moore’s contributions to Riverside range from leadership in Riverside’s sustainability efforts, working tirelessly to improve Riverside’s quality of life, and bringing community services for the underserved. Just less than two weeks ago, Ameal was recognized by a unanimous vote of the City Council authorizing the naming of Sycamore Canyon Nature Center at Sycamore Canyon Park in his name.

Moore had been “president of Riverside’s NAACP chapter, helped form a Toastmasters International club, taught Sunday school at his church, and served on the city’s parking and traffic and planning commissions. He was elected in 1994 to represent Ward 2, including the Eastside, parts of the University area, Sycamore Canyon and Canyon Crest.

Friends and former council colleagues credit Mr. Moore with getting amenities added at the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park and starting the push to improve University Avenue, which was a source of complaints and frequent police visits,” notes Robinson in the PE.com article.

To Riverside, Moore personified the community vision that everyone should enjoy a high quality of life and be unified in pursuing the common good.

“I wanted to be a decision maker rather than someone always complaining about things.”

To read the full article published on April 29, 2013 on PE.com, click here.

To read the statement issued by Mayor Rusty Bailey, click here.

Riverside Public Utilities Programs Receive Statewide Honors

The California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA) honored Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) with two of its annual statewide Resource Efficiency & Community Service Awards at a ceremony held last week during their annual conference.

The CMUA, which helps to advance the interests of its member agencies before the legislature, hosts the awards annually to recognize innovative energy and water efficiency and consumer benefit programs among California’s consumer-owned water and energy utilities.

In the Energy Programs category, which recognizes innovative and effective approaches in implementing renewable energy resources, energy efficiency, demand reduction, research and development, low income assistance, or greenhouse gas reduction strategies, the agency recognized RPU’s Whole House Program.

Whole House logoWith the Whole House Program, RPU customers are able to apply for a number of water and energy efficiency measures at the same time and can receive added rebate incentives when grouping them together, as well as receiving increased energy and water conservation benefits that can help to lower utility bills.

Meanwhile, the utility’s Green Power Report radio show received its second CMUA award in its six-year run in the Community Services Category. On the air since 2007, and hosted and produced by RPU staff, the Green Power Report is a 30-minute radio program that reaches some 250,000 listeners throughout the Inland Empire of Southern California providing news and information about environmental stewardship, sustainable living practices, renewable energy and more. Shows are broadcast locally on AM 590 The Answer at 6:30 p.m., and are available to download through iTunes and via the show’s radio player at www.GreenRiverside.com.

Both of these awards recognize Riverside for being a Catalyst for Innovation, wherein leaders are using inventive and multi-disciplinary approaches to address issues. For more information on either the Whole House Program or the Green Power Report, visit GreenRiverside.com. To read the original press release, click here.

Arlanza Garden Proves to Be Fertile Ground for Riverside

In an effort to build a Unified City  from the roots up, Riverside-based Child Leader Project (CLP) hosted their second annual MLK Day at the Arlanza Community Garden this past January. The ‘Grow Arlanza’ event invited community members to participate in contributing design plans and planting seeds to raise awareness for the garden. With the support of student organizations from UCR, Growcology, and the community, the event was a powerful way to commemorate MLK and bring together excited individuals from all of Riverside.

Arlanza Community Garden

(photo source: www.ChildLeaderProject.org)

The successful event included 80 plus leaders in the garden assisting with irrigation, gate design, weeding and clean-up. Other activities included Norte Vista High School’s Padres Unidos (United Parents) organization selling pupusas, CLP youth raising funds for the 2013 Confronteras trip and Operation SafeHouse representatives sharing information about their work.

The Arlanza Garden project is facilitated by young adult mentors and youth that have committed themselves towards creating a space where the entire community can both nourish and flourish.

Check out all the photos at: Second Annual MLK Day of Service.

If you missed out on the event, make sure to Save the Date for Earth Day 2013 (Saturday, April 20th) when CLP will be hosting a work party in celebration of Earth Day. More details can be found on the Arlanza Garden Facebook page.