Category Archives: Green

Electric Vehicles Touted As Way To Cut Inland Pollution

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Melanie C. Johnson and published in The Press Enterprise on November 16, 2014.)

Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

Riverside resident Diana Howlett climbed into a Nissan Leaf and awaited the noise from the engine. She heard nothing like the usual roar that comes with turning the ignition. “It’s really smooth and quiet,” she said of her first experience driving an electric car. “I turned it on, and I didn’t even know it was turned on.”

She and husband Kyle Howlett came with friends to Riverside Electric Vehicle Day on Sunday. The event, which took place at UC Riverside’s Center of Environmental Research & Technology on Columbia Avenue, was co-hosted by the center, the Charge Ahead California campaign, and CALPIRG UCR student chapter. It featured several speakers, an array of electric cars from Fiats to BMWs to Smart cars the attendees could peruse and test drive, and information on rebates and financing options.

Riverside Councilman Mike Gardner said for more than seven years, his primary mode of transportation for getting to City Hall has been his Segway. Because of Southern California’s landscape, fine-particle air pollution from Los Angeles and Orange County is blown to the Inland Empire, making it tough to meet federal ozone standards, he said. Increasing the number of electric and other zero-emissions vehicles could provide much-needed relief, he said.

“That’s an immediate local benefit for us for our health,” Gardner said.

Events such as Riverside Electric Vehicle Day offer participants a chance to learn how beneficial these alternative modes of transportation are to the environment. Reducing pollution throughout Riverside will help us continue to be able to hold year-round outdoor activities and improve the quality of life of our city.  Riverside Electric Vehicle Day exemplifies Seizing Our Destiny’s location of choice pillar by encouraging our residents to do their part in creating a healthy and livable city.

To read the full article, click here.

UC Riverside Celebrates Three Megawatts of Solar Power

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

UCR has a solar farm that provides more than three megawatts, or the equivalent of 960 houses. Photo Credit: Ross French, UCR Today
UCR has a solar farm that provides more than three megawatts, or the equivalent of 960 houses. Photo Credit: Ross French, UCR Today

UC Riverside has opened a brand new solar farm that will produce up to 6.6 million megawatt hours of electricity each year. That is the equivalent of powering 960 homes for a year.

The ribbon cutting, at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, will include Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, local government officials, student leaders, and representatives of SunPower Corporation. It will be held on the solar farm site, which is next to UCR’s Community Garden. Parking will be available in Lot 30.

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.  Wendell Brase, UC Irvine’s vice chancellor for administrative and business services, will attend the ribbon cutting. He is co-chair of UC President Janet Napolitano’s Global Climate Leadership Council.

UCR’s solar array is currently the largest solar array in the University of California system. Other campuses are also quickly adding more solar technology. For instance, UC Irvine opens a large system next year:

UCR signed a 20-year power purchase agreement that allowed the SunPower Corporation to construct, operate and maintain the facility, with the university purchasing the power. UCR spent $350,000 on site clearing and preparation, as well as interconnections costs with the existing substation. The projected savings to the university is $4.3 million over the length of the contract. UCR will also receive carbon and LEED credits that provide additional financial and environmental savings.

The solar farm went online as scheduled on Friday, Sept. 19. It has 7,440 panels across the 11-acre site using GPS tracking to slowly follow the sun across the sky. The massive sea of shiny panels is visible from Highway 60 as thousands of cars pass the campus.

“This is a big step forward, and we plan to do more,” said John Cook, director of the UCR’s Office of Sustainability. “On a hot and sunny day we will be producing nearly a third of UCR’s total energy needs with this system. But over the course of the year, with variable weather, it will amount to 3 percent of our total energy needs.” He said Riverside’s typical sunny climate will make UCR an especially efficient place to invest in solar technology. With the growing concern of climate change and pollution from fossil fuels, UCR is taking steps to reduce their foot print on the environment and promote the quality of life for all through intelligent growth of their campus.

For the full article, click here.

Riverside Named “Coolest” City

(This article includes excerpts from the article written by David Danelski, published in The Press Enterprise on October 23, 2014.)

Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey, center, leads the pack at a “Bike with the Mayor” event held in March 2013. The city won a statewide contest that fostered bicycle riding and other measures to the reduce carbon emissions linked to climate change. Photo credit: Press Enterprise, David Bauman
Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey, center, leads the pack at a “Bike with the Mayor” event held in March 2013. The city won a statewide contest that fostered bicycle riding and other measures to the reduce carbon emissions linked to climate change. Photo credit: The Press Enterprise, David Bauman

To reduce his contribution to global warming, Taher Bhaigee started taking a bus from his home in Riverside’s Canyon Crest neighborhood to his job downtown. “I bought a monthly pass, and that really reduced my driving,” said Bhaigee, 23, a recent UC Riverside graduate who works as an intern in the mayor’s office. Bhaigee also replaced his incandescent lights with energy-efficient CFC bulbs. He was also more careful about turning off the air conditioner and lights when they weren’t needed.

Bhaigee was among more than 1,100 Riverside residents who tracked their energy savings online and helped the city win a contest sponsored by state air quality officials to encourage people to slash their energy use. The California Air Resources Board announced winners in the CoolCalifornia City Challenge on Thursday at a meeting in Diamond Bar. Riverside edged out runners-up Claremont and Rancho Cucamonga to be the “coolest city” in California.

Another Riverside resident, Ryan Bullard, worked on big-ticket items to reduce his carbon footprint. “I have all LED lighting, an efficient AC unit and all energy efficiency appliances from washer to fridge,” said Bullard, who works for Riverside’s electric utility. “In fact, I use about half of the energy a typical household in Riverside uses. “I also frequently walk to work, dinner and more since I live about a half mile from downtown,” Bullard said.

Bhaigee and Ryan are everyday examples of Riversiders working together to address local issues and building an even more Unified City.

For the complete article, click here.

What have YOU done to slash energy use? Let us know and comment below.

Riverside Bike-Sharing Program In The Works

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Alicia Robinson, published in the Press-Enterprise on September 16, 2014)

In Riverside’s continuing quest to expand public transit offerings and foster a “bicycle culture,” the city plans to launch what is likely the Inland area’s first public bike sharing program.  A city wide bike-share program would be a great opportunity for all Riversiders, providing one more reason why Riverside is a location of choice.  Not only would this provide Riversiders with more convenient public transportation options, it would be a fun opportunity for people to stay active and enjoy the great climate and environment that Riverside has to offer.  Our city is increasingly becoming the location of choice for people and organizations from all over the world.     

People check out bicycles from a Citi Bike station in New York City's Central Park. Riverside plans to test a bike share program, possibly starting in 2015.  Photo credit: Matthew Christensen
People check out bicycles from a Citi Bike station in New York City’s Central Park. Riverside plans to test a bike share program, possibly starting in 2015. Photo credit: Matthew Christensen

The bike share concept isn’t new. Community bikes were used in Amsterdam as early as the 1960s. The first organized programs in the U.S. date to the 1990s, said Susan Shaheen, co-director of UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center.  Esri, a Redlands geographic information systems company, offers free shared bicycles as an employee perk.

Riverside’s pilot project, which could start in 2015, will likely include four bike kiosks – one near City Hall, one at the downtown Metrolink station and spots near the UC Riverside and Riverside City College campuses, said Brandi Becker, a senior administrative analyst in the city’s public works department.  For most systems, pricing is set to encourage trips of a half-hour or less. Denver’s B-cycle, for example, starts at $8 for a 24-hour pass or $80 for a year, with weekly and monthly passes also offered. With all passes, trips up to 30 minutes are free; extra hourly charges apply for those who keep bikes out longer.

Many bike shares are still ironing out financial and logistical issues, but Riverside should be able to learn from others’ early mistakes, said Charlie Gandy, a bike consultant and vice president of the California Bicycle Coalition.    Gandy expects a bike share to fuel even more interest in cycling, whether for work, fun or fitness.   “Cities that take on this type of project see a major shift in people’s attitudes towards bicycling,” he said.

To read more, click here.

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.)

10295451_1451417598453815_1424216421880094625_o
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.

10402773_1452345851694323_4910007275331281618_n
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.

10422172_1448382868757288_685785476387646256_n
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.