What does replacing fluorescent light bulbs with LEDs have to do with solar-heated washing machines, energy audits, resin-hardened clothing or a color-coded map that illustrates air pollution? They’re all proposals from UC Riverside students to help the campus achieve the University of California’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2025.
The university received 38 proposals in less than three weeks for UC President Janet Neapolitan’s new Sustainability Student Fellowship/Internship Program, the most received by any UC campus, said UCR’s Director of Sustainability John Cook.
Napolitano’s office provided $7,500 to each of the UC’s 10 campuses in February to encourage students to get involved in the UC’s carbon neutrality and sustainability goals, which include getting each campus back to the same level of emissions it had in 1990. That’s a huge task for UC Riverside, Cook said, because the campus has grown from about 6,000 students in 1990 to more than 22,000 today, with expanded research programs and new schools of engineering and medicine that didn’t exist before.
“We have the biggest challenge of all the UCs, but we can figure it out,” Cook said. “We have the willpower and brainpower on campus to do it, and that’s what this fellowship does; it puts the brainpower and student engagement together, so we can all be a part of the solution and it’s not just something that happens at the physical plant somewhere. It’s the whole campus working together.”
The five winning proposals will each receive $1,500 to complete their projects by the end of 2015, said Matt Barth, UCR professor of electrical and chemical engineering and a member of the UC Global Climate Leadership Counsel. Barth and Cook helped choose the winning proposals along with UCR Professor of Geology Mary Droser, who sits on the education subcommittee of the UC Global Climate Leadership Counsel.
“I would definitely say all the applications were great,” said Barth. “We were extremely surprised to get so many applications with such a short turnaround period. This fellowship is giving students a chance to show off their ideas while helping us meet our sustainability goals, and they’ve given us some pretty good stuff.”
UCR’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2025 demonstrates what makes UCR and Riverside a catalyst for innovation. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.
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