|Submission Date||June 20, 2023|
University of California, Davis
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory
|4.00 / 4.00||
Assessment Program Manager
Office of Sustainability
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement:
Sustainability office students and fellows have developed content for campus engagement and education on sustainability topics such as waste and climate. This content has been used for social media and electronic newsletter purposes. These students also tabled at public events at the campus Farmer’s Market, organized opportunities to collect campus feedback regarding sustainability initiatives, and created accessible materials for multiple outreach events.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Public Engagement?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Public Engagement:
The School of Law currently operates five clinics staffed by students: the Immigration Law Clinic, the Civil Rights Clinic, the Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic, the Aoki Water Justice Clinic, and the Aoki Criminal Justice Practicum. These award-winning clinics have earned national and international acclaim for both their high-quality public service and their unique pedagogical value within the law school curriculum. The clinics give legal voice to communities most in need of assistance and at the same time help train first-rate lawyers who will serve the profession for decades. In working at these clinics, students engage with clients, decision-makers, and the public around various sustainability issues.
The Center for Community and Citizen Science helps scientists, communities and citizens collaborate on science to address environmental problems as a part of civic life. With the help of several graduate students and undergraduate student interns, the center researches ways to broaden and improve participation in science by diverse communities, use citizen science to effectively improve scientific learning, and develop resources and tools for building successful citizen science programs.
The Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) helps expand postsecondary opportunities to all of California’s students, including those who are first-generation, socioeconomically disadvantaged and English-language learners. EAOP assists middle school and high school students with academic preparation, admission, enrollment and financial aid requirements. EAOP is the University of California's largest academic preparation program and can be found on all ten of UC's campuses. UC Davis' EAOP serves over 2,500 participants in twelve school districts. Undergraduates provide a variety of support services to the program by working closely with the Regional Assistant Directors (RADs) and other EAOP staff, for example by facilitating group workshops for students and parents, conducting one-on-one academic advising, and coordinating field trips.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Air & Climate?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Air & Climate:
The Sustainability office employs a student assistant to produce the campus's annual greenhouse gas emissions inventories. Students have worked on each inventory since UC Davis started inventorying GHG emissions in 2006. The work requires skilled, detailed analytical work and has been a post-college career path for some of the students who have worked on the inventories.
Sustainability office staff mentor several Bonnie Reiss Climate Action Fellows who pursue independent projects related to many topics including decarbonization/electrification efforts, resiliency in climate action planning, and climate engagement and outreach. Projects have ranged from designing a self-guided sustainability tour map, to organizing interactive events with speakers educating the campus community on the value of intersectional environmentalist perspectives.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Buildings?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Buildings:
The Green Buildings Team, within Facilities Management: Energy & Engineering, promotes sustainable operations on the UC Davis campus through the pursuit of green building certifications for existing buildings. Green Building Interns are involved in the full certification process, which involves interpreting campus policy, performing calculations, conducting audits, and collecting data from building occupants and campus databases. The team has certified 8 campus buildings under LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance and Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) In-Use. 2013 – present.
Post construction documentation related to stormwater measures: Design and Construction Management (DCM) sustainability interns and Facilities Management green building interns update the campus data base regarding new construction and renovation/post-construction stormwater measures. This database is used to show rainwater management for LEED credits. The DCM interns have created a map and calculator showing the retention of water campus-wide and are currently working to share this map with the campus GIS data base so reporting for new construction and existing building operations will share the same data base in the future. 2014 - present.
Design and Construction Management interns have developed a diversity and density map of the campus to demonstrate the increasing density of the campus and increasing accessibility of services throughout the campus. This includes documenting building footprint in ratio to the overall square footage of the building and its site area. When a specific site is being looked at for a new project a radius is determined to identify the change in density for that project. In addition, the campus/city of Davis bike network is integrated with a google maps tool identifying all service types in proximity to that project. This allows the campus to identify possible needs for extension or upgrades to the bike network to increase inclusive accessibility to services.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Energy?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Energy:
Path to Zero Net Energy course: The UC Davis Program for International Energy Technologies (PIET) offers the Path to Zero Net Energy (ZNE) course, in which students conduct feasibility studies on energy and climate projects for UC Davis and other clients. This course educates and engages students in issues of energy use, demand, energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate neutrality as well as associated technical, economic, social and political challenges. Applied learning through ZNE includes solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, biopower, and electric vehicles. Students gain exposure to and work with students from different disciplines (Engineering, Economics, Design, Ecology, Business, etc.) offered by PIET in West Village, in partnership with the UC Davis Energy Conservation Office. 2013 - present
Energy Internships: Since 2012 the Utilities & Engineering team in Facilities Management offers both graduate and undergraduate internships to students interested in engaging in energy-related work on campus. These paid internships give students the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with energy engineers, project managers and data scientists developing and implementing real projects on campus to save energy and improve operations in campus facilities. The last 5 years they have employed Graduate Student Researchers from the Energy Graduate Group who have also been able to develop their thesis projects from the work they are doing with our team.
URLs: https://facilities.ucdavis.edu/energy-engineering/student-involvement, https://energy.ucdavis.edu/education/energy-graduate-group/
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Food & Dining?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Food & Dining:
The certified organic Student Farm was started by students more than 40 years ago. It runs a popular Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, sells produce at the on-campus farmers market, and sells to the on-campus ASUCD Coffee House (a student-operated restaurant doing over $5 million in sales annually) and to Dining Services (which operates the four campus dining commons). The farm also supports student research, hosts several courses, and provides support to many other courses through farm tours, field activities, and plant materials. While there are a staff farm manager and a faculty advisor, the Student Farm is another of the many student-operated services and businesses on campus.
The Student Collaborative Organic Plant Breeding Education (SCOPE) project, a student-led collaborative of faculty and student plant breeders, has been developing varieties of beans, tomatoes, wheat, and other crops to be responsive to both changing growing conditions (as a result of climate change and other factors) and changing farmer demands and interest.
UC Davis Coffee House: A group of students participated in developing a grant proposal to start an aeroponic garden intended to supply local produce to an on-campus food operation and the student food pantry. The project was on hold due to COVID-19, but has been re-instated in 2023. A new student Garden Coordinator has been hired and has begun executing a spring/summer planting with the support of a team of student volunteer gardeners.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Grounds?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Grounds:
The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden’s Learning by Leading program uses campus landscapes and community engagement expertise as resources for 120+ students to apply classroom learning in real-world settings from nature education to environmental restoration.
After years of work and research on the Texas Tree Trials Research Project, Arboretum and Public Garden staff and Learning by Leading™ students have started planting test trees at trial sites. These plantings are an exciting development in reaching the project’s goal of cultivating a resilient and diverse urban tree canopy for UC Davis and surrounding community in a changing climate. The Urban Tree Stewardship team planted the first 27 trees at the site last year and led the planting of an additional 78 trees this winter. The ultimate goal is to plant three specimens of each of the 40 species collected. This will provide a wonderful opportunity for visitors to become immersed in observing, learning, and enjoying the trees in one grove while they gain a first-hand understanding of their potential.
UC Davis Student Farm: Students continue to practice minimum-till farming techniques at the Student Farm after testing the practice and applying it to 9 acres of the farm. UC Davis Student Farm is certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) with 21.5 acres in certification growing a wide diversity of both annual and perennial crops. The farm also plants flowers and herbs that support pollinator diversity, as well as hedgerows and California native plant species to support ecological diversity and functioning.
The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) SmartLandscape project, operated in large part by student interns, is installing a variety of landscape projects at the Western Center for Agricultural Equipment to demonstrate water conservation and sustainable landscape design. Phase I, which was a joint project between SLGI and the UC Davis Arboretum Learning by Leading program, was completed in 2021. Landscapes installed include turf plots, turf alternative Kurapia plots, mixed landscape zones, a pollinator garden, a butterfly study garden, a green roof, and more.
The UC Davis sheepmowers project engages UC Davis students, staff, and faculty in exploring alternative maintenance strategies for campus lawnscapes. Grazing lawnscape management uses plant-munching livestock, most popularly goats and sheep, to manage areas ranging from wild grasslands to urban lawnscapes. The focus of the sheepmowing research is to study the potential of utilizing sheep in urban spaces, and how incorporating sheep into these unconventional spaces has the potential to offer environmental, operational, and social benefits. Using sheep as lawn-care multi-tools can provide a more sustainable alternative to traditional management methods that require fossil-fuel based equipment, synthetic fertilizers, and chemical pesticides. Additionally, the introduction of animals and elements of pastoral beauty into an urban environment creates opportunities for increased social and mental well-being.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Purchasing?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Purchasing:
Design and Construction Management interns assist with various new construction and renovation capital projects to track low emitting materials, to find Environmental Product Data sheets for LEED and Buy Clean California Act reporting, to document sourcing of raw materials (recycled/regional /certified wood content), and to research documentation of health product declarations. The interns work with contractor’s submittals to start the research in finding this documentation and extend to checking source websites and talking to manufacturer’s representatives to find any missing information.
IIs the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Transportation?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Transportation:
UC Davis Campus Travel Survey: A graduate student from the Institute of Transportation Studies conducts the UC Davis Campus Travel Survey every year. The main purpose of the survey is to collect annual data on how the UC Davis community travels to campus, including mode choice, vehicle occupancy, distances traveled, and carbon emissions. The travel survey results have been used to assess awareness and utilization of campus transportation services and estimate demand for new services designed to promote sustainable commuting at UC Davis. Annual
Freshman Seminar, "Davis Likes Bikes": Dr. Jeremy Mason teaches the Freshman Seminar "Davis Likes Bikes" using bicycles that have been impounded and unclaimed on the UC Davis campus. In the class, students learn about the history and engineering of bicycles, investigate the property requirements of different components (such as the wheel and frame), and relate these requirements to the materials of which they are made. Students are encouraged to be inquisitive learners as they investigate the properties and selection of materials in a bicycle. (Pass/Not Pass; 1 Unit). Annual.
First-year Aggie Connection "Car(e)-free Aggies": Perry Eggleston (Exec. Director of Transportation Services) and Ramon Zavala (Transportation Demand Manager) teach new UC Davis students the basics of thriving without driving—hence the name being both Car-Free and Care-Free Aggies. In this class, students learn the central tenants of traffic law; the various rights, laws, and best practices affecting pedestrians, bicycle riders, and scooter riders; the basics of bicycle repair; how to read a transit table; the history of bicycles as a machine; and take a field trip on a Unitrans bus around Davis so they get a first-hand understanding of how to ride a bus. (No grade; 0 units). Annual.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Waste?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Waste:
The Sustainability office has mentored several student teams for project-based learning classes in Physics, Engineering, and Environmental Science and Policy. Currently the Sustainability office is working with a team that is creating a campus outdoor compost map that will be used to engage and educate the campus about zero waste initiatives and assist campus operations with reaching SB 1383 (California waste regulation) compliance. In addition to creating a map, the undergraduate team has also created a complementary outreach campaign to further educate the campus community about the value of composting and the relationship between composting and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from landfills.
Sustainability office students annually gather and analyze data from various sources to calculate a campus-wide diversion rate on waste, which is then reported to the UC Office of the President for inclusion in the annual sustainability report.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Water?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Water:
Ammonium Recovery: Using the campus Wastewater Treatment Plant, a campus researcher from Civil & Environmental Engineering is working with engineering students on ammonium recovery from urine and anaerobic bio-digester digestate. The project has positive sustainable impact to the campus, i.e., switching to waterless urinals to reduce potable water use for flushing, treatment of digestate for lower carbon footprint. 2014 – present.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:
The California Student Leadership in Green Infrastructure (SLGI) is a group of inter-disciplinary students who utilize Tactical Green Infrastructure to design, build, research, and advocate for simple and cost-effective stormwater management projects on the UC Davis campus and surrounding California communities. The group of students works with Kevin Robert Perry, a design professional and lecturer within the UC Davis Landscape Architecture department, to identify, design, and construct expedited green infrastructure demonstration projects. This highly interactive design and implementation process often enlists the effort of volunteer personnel, repurposes or procures local donated construction materials, identifies potential project funding sources, and helps educate the general public on the basic principles of green infrastructure. The SLGI group has completed several built green infrastructure retrofits on the UC Davis campus and is currently working with the Davis Senior High School in retrofitting a courtyard as an interactive rain garden landscape. SLGI members also aim to connect with other students and professionals who have a passion for designing and building aesthetic and functional green spaces. The mission for the SLGI group is to provide hands-on experience for students through building real projects, and to educate the public about green infrastructure by implementation of these projects. 2016-present.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
The Sustainability office mentors a Climate & Environmental Justice Fellow whose work includes integrating environmental justice and social equity into the Climate Action Planning process at UC Davis.
The Associated Students of UC Davis Environmental Policy and Planning Commission (EPPC) and Research and Data Committee (R&DC) conducted a survey to gauge the student community's awareness of environmental justice issues and resources available at UC Davis. The committee created a report that identified the EJ issues that UC Davis students are most interested in seeing addressed and have experienced firsthand. Their survey also revealed that many students, despite broad outreach efforts are not aware of existing resources. To help mitigate this, they generated a comprehensive list of resources available on campus for students to use.
UC Davis Student Farm: The student-led Fresh Focus program distributes thousands of pounds of food to centers around campus, making it accessible to students at no cost. The Fresh Focus program keeps any food produced by the farm from being wasted, and plants foods in response to specific needs of campus partners, including culturally important foods, addressing goals for both environmental and social sustainability.
UC Davis Student Farm: Students participate in the growing of culturally significant crops, distributed through Dining Services and other campus partners. This includes the elderberry and sage harvest, as well as a multiyear SCOPE project (funded by USDA OREI) that has collaborated with farmers in the region and Asian American Studies faculty to grow and improve celtuce varieties and other crops of the Asian diaspora.
Food Access Map: Development of the Food Access Map began with a community assessment. An electronic survey was sent to assess the student, staff and faculty needs when accessing food on campus. This data was used to determine what kinds of information should be available on the Food Access Map. Focus groups were conducted with students to determine the organization, look and feel, and the most strategic way to market the resource. The Food Access Map helps individuals find food and food resources on campus and in Davis that meet the needs of the campus community. A feedback survey is administered by Health Education and Promotion student coordinators. The map is most frequently used to find microwaves and free food resources, such as The Pantry and Fruit and Veggie Up!, on campus. FY 19 - present.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance:
UC Davis MBA Student participated in the Universitas 21/PwC Innovation Challenge, and receives PwC Academy faculty coaching sessions tailored to his career focus: social entrepreneurship and impact investing.
AASHE 2019 Award: Pathways to carbon-neutral energy systems. UC Davis graduate student Steven Wiryadinata worked on a study to analyze the costs associated with three different options for UC Davis to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.
Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
UC Davis Farmers Market: The UC Davis Farmers Market was attempted in 2003 by a student group from the Associated Students of UC Davis (ASUCD). Their focus was to improve the health of the students, and they reached out to the Davis Farmers Market (DFM) about bringing a market onto campus as a strategy to meet their vision. DFM worked with ASUCD, and all the corresponding campus departments that would have to be involved with bringing a Farmers Market onto campus. Students researched and sketched out a cost analysis and prepared a proposal for consideration. The result was that ASUCD could not afford to host the event and the market could not afford to pay the costs, so the proposal was not carried out. In 2006, the Community Book Project was “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” The book project theme lent strength to a different model that included a designated campus liaison – ASUCD Coffee House. Campus sponsors were recruited to pay for the costs of bringing the event on campus. This model remains today with two students supervising the market seasons, Fall Quarter and Spring Quarter and six departments providing financial sponsorship and four additional units providing in-kind support. We are the first UC campus to bring a Farmers Market onsite with the goal being to bring local, seasonal food and education around such to the students while supporting local farmers. In addition to the costs associated with the market, vouchers for distribution to students are covered by the sponsoring departments. FY 18 - present.
Diabetes Prevention Program: The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) was implemented to help prevent UC Davis staff, students and faculty from developing type 2 diabetes, while also promoting weight loss over a one-year period. The program consists of group-based cohorts which meet for a total of 22 sessions during a 1-year period. Goals are to achieve and maintain a 7% weight loss with healthy eating and an active lifestyle. Clinical nutrition students are selected for a year-long internship that allows them to become lifestyle coaches for the program. FY 18 – present.
Walking Paths: Marked walking paths and a corresponding map were created at UC Davis and UC Davis Health campuses. Five paths were installed at UC Davis and two paths were installed at UC Davis Health. This initiative was accompanied with an educational campaign to educate students, staff, and faculty about the importance of walking using various social media platforms. Walking Loop markers continue to be monitored and replaced due to high foot traffic. Further, the UC Davis Health loops have been re-worked due to hospital construction. Feedback survey invitations are posted along walking routes. Participants who complete the survey are eligible to win a prize in quarterly drawings. Students from Health Education and Promotion work on the maintenance, marketing, and survey data. FY 19 - present.
Nourish: Nourish, a point-of-purchase food labeling project, can be found in vending machines and campus eateries across UC Davis. In partnership with Canteen vending, all vending machines located within the Health Sciences District, residence halls, and Davis Campus locations contain 50% or more Nourish-labeled snacks. UC Davis Health will develop patient meals to meet Nourish guidelines. Students at Health Education and Promotion maintain this program. FY 19 - present.
Healthy Aggies: A group of nutrition students overseen by Campus Recreation that hosts nutrition and food activities across campus promoting nutrition as part of overall wellness. The group also hosts Nutrition Peer Consultations and daily drop hours for quick nutrition questions at the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), as well as publishes a monthly newsletter and a weekly blog. 2017-present.
Breathe Free Tracker: In partnership with CSU San Marcos, UC Davis is piloting a tobacco use tracking tool called the Breathe Free tracker. This online tool aims to collect real-time data about tobacco waste and use trends around campus, including e-cigarettes, vapes, and JUULs. This information will be used to gather feedback on Hotspots, which are areas with a high concentration of tobacco waste/use and provides an indicator of where policy non-compliance is occurring. Students use this information to inform locations to conduct environmental scans, which are tobacco waste cleanup assessments. Users are also able to comment on areas that are not troublesome – this will highlight areas of campus that are clean. The goal of this research is to address the critical problem of engaging the campus community with its Smoke and Tobacco Free policy while creating a culture which supports and engages with the policy. The long-term objective of this research is to strengthen compliance with college Smoke and Tobacco Free policies and reduce environmental tobacco waste. Students conduct outreach to promote the tool. A focus group was conducted and students developed an abstract for APHA based on our findings and intentions with the tool. Two UCD undergraduate students were hired as research assistants in Fall 2022 to remove tobacco, e-cigarette, and cannabis waste (TECW) from campus that gets reported through Tobacco Tracker. These students are tasked with enrolling 400 main campus students at UCD and CSU San Marcos. It is a six-week intervention in which the GSRs show participants brief videos about the environmental impact of TECW and provide the Tracker link; those randomly assigned to the intervention group will receive training and behavioral support for using the Tracker. 2019-present.
URLs: https://healthy.ucdavis.edu/smoke-tobacco-free/breathe-free; https://www.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/a10b1ebd9c634cfca46c5df28f5918d0
Environmental Scans: Student volunteers conduct environmental scans in which they target known “hot spots” on campus that have been highlighted feedback from the campus community as well as results from the Breathe Free tracker. Students go to a "hot spot" location on "day 1" and pick up and count all cigarette butts in the area. They go back 48 hours later ("day 2”) and count again. This gives a more reliable data point compared to a campus-wide butt pick up as we can determine how many cigarettes were smoked in a certain location within 24 hours. FY 15 - present.
Healthy Beverage Initiative: Started in 2019 as a part of a systemwide effort, the goal of the UC Healthy Beverage Initiative (UC HBI) is to encourage the consumption of tap water as a healthy, free, and sustainable alternative to sugary drinks. The Healthy Beverage Initiative has expanded the availability of fresh, filtered drinking water on the Davis and Sacramento campuses through the installation of 16 new water stations, 9 of which are on the Davis campus. To determine the placement of the hydration stations, a needs assessment and inventory were conducted by undergraduate students. UC Davis design students lent their expertise to design our three water ambassadors, Otto Otter, Shelly Turtle, and Aggie Cow that are included on posters to direct community members to one of the new hydration stations. Two Healthy UC Davis student assistants assisted with an educational campaign regarding the health benefits of reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and the sustainability of utilizing reusable bottles and drinking fresh, plain water. FY 20 – present.
Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
Cora Ballek, student employee in the Sustainability office, assisted in compiling this credit response.
The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.