Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 70.35
Liaison Mo Lovegreen
Submission Date March 2, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of California, Santa Barbara
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Naomi Carrillo
STARS Data Collection and Analysis Intern
UCSB Sustainability
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Air & Climate:

In 2017, a group of graduate students completed a Master’s group research project entitled “Carbon Zero: Curbing Climate Change and Driving Energy Efficiency at UCSB”. The group looked to find the best way for UCSB to approach the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. Working with UCSB’s institute for Energy Efficiency, they identified three distinct areas of UCSB where they could find ways to implement carbon neutrality. The solar component identified 18 rooftops to prioritize solar photovoltaic procurement and installation. Financial assessment evaluated UCSB’s proposed budget with the Utility Conservation Revolving Fund by scenario analyses. The third area of Strategic Communication and Engagement assessed on-campus stakeholder challenges and feasible solutions for strategic communication and engagement to support CNI decision-making.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Buildings:

UCSB offers an three-quarter undergraduate class called LEED Lab, a multidisciplinary immersion course that utilizes the built environment to educate and prepare students to become green building leaders and sustainability-focused professionals. These highly interactive classes use the LEED for Existing Buildings Operations & Maintenance Reference Guide as a primary resource for students to gain new information, concepts, and interpersonal skills. Students assess the performance of current facilities and choose a building to facilitate the LEED for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED EB O + M) process with the goal of certification. LEED Lab equips students with the skills, knowledge, and expertise to meet the needs of the building industry and create effective communicators, critical thinkers, problem solvers, and engaged leaders. Some graduate students also take this course even though it is lower division.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Energy:

Students of the Bren Master of Environmental Science & Management program and an undergraduate from Chemical Engineering participated in the TomKat Natural Gas Exit Strategies working group. This TomKat group developed solutions for the University of California Carbon Neutrality Initiative which “calls for achieving carbon neutrality for scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions at UC by 2025 and for scope 3 emissions by 2050.” The working group was divided into three subcommittees to focus on transition from natural gas combustion to zero net carbon use. The Efficiency and Optimization subcommittee performed technical analyses to reveal opportunities for deep efficiency, energy savings and reinvestment in decarbonization across UC's campuses. The Renewable and Sustainable Gas Subcommittee used techno-economic analyses of hydrogen gas and biogas to figure the costs of replacing natural gas in cogeneration plants. The Electrification, Dynamics, and Storage Subcommittee investigated the potential of converting natural gas services to non-combustion driven electricity within the University of California. The students involved supported research, managed data and analysis, and helped produce figures to write sections of the report.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Food & Dining:

A UC Global Food Initiative Fellow, Audrey Horn, implemented a project in the 2016-2017 academic year where she worked with University Center Dining to assess alternatives to the use of egg-based mayonnaise. Audrey successful convinced UCen Dining to switch to a vegan option and is now working under the advisement of a faculty member to write a research paper based on her work with UCen Dining.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Grounds:

The Cheadle Center for Biodiversity & Ecological Restoration (CCBER) teaches the course ENVS 95- Ecological Restoration Field Skills. Undergraduate students gain valuable hands-on field experience learning about the process of restoring native wetland, coastal sage scrub, grassland, and oak woodland habitats. Each week, the students focus on specific restoration themes such as project planning, plant identification and propagation, water quality and exotic species management. Students tour and help with restoration at various sites on and around campus including over 300 acres of open space such as the centrally located, campus lagoon, and the CCBER greenhouse. Offered three quarters a year, the students of ENSV 95 make a visible improvement in their areas of focus.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Purchasing:

Conducted by Procurement, Grounds and Custodial Services, and the Holden Laboratory, UCSB, this project aims to replace the use of harsh chemical cleaning agents on the UCSB campus with a more sustainable approach. Overall, the most common methods adapted for cleaning and disinfection of restroom surfaces are based on chemical compounds. While demand for more effective cleaning and disinfecting is growing, there is also increasing evidence that exposure to chemicals in cleaning and disinfecting agents can result in acute and chronic health effects to humans. Additionally, the widespread use of chemical disinfectants presents risks towards the environment where microbial resistance to extensively used antiseptics and disinfectants has been reported. For these reasons, safer and more natural alternatives are under investigation, including an approach that uses beneficial bacteria in cleaning and disinfecting products. In concept, the beneficial bacteria colonize hard restroom surfaces to counteract the proliferation of disease-causing bacteria (pathogens). This creates a pathogen unfriendly environment on the surfaces, and replaces harsh chemical cleaners with biodegradable and environmentally safe ingredients. This study will be helpful in creating baseline information about further scientific enquiry for sustainable microbial cleaning products. At UCSB, Facilities Management and the Housing and Residential Services both maintain a Low Environmental Impact Cleaning Policy for the LEED buildings. Implementation of successful microbial cleaning products from this project would further improve UCSB’s progress towards sustainability and healthy communities. An added objective would be to communicate the results via a peer reviewed publication, and thereby disseminate the findings in support of broader decision making. This project is in part funded by the University of California Global Food Initiative's Healthy Campus Network.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Transportation:

In Spring 2016, undergrad Annie Golay wrote the “Bike Share Feasibility Report for UCSB” for her project in the class ENVS 194CA: Furthering UCSB’s Climate Action Plan through Research. This report takes an in depth look on establishing a bike share program for UCSB and the surrounding Goleta and Santa Barbara areas. Golay introduces recent projects researching the implementation of a UCSB bike share program. The report also utilizes case studies from existing bike share programs around the world and highlights the aspects that could most be utilized by UCSB. For example, Golay discusses University of Montana’s Nice Ride Program and how it is a useful example for the success of bike share partnerships among universities and larger bike share programs. The report’s section on Financial Assessment addresses three potential bike programs and the cost breakdowns for each. Funding for these costs are layed out and consider crowd sourcing as well as grants. The report looks at the current problems that are preventing the implementation of a larger bike share program in the area such as current road safety, and mapping. The research done in this feasibility report highlights the steps that UCSB is taking to encourage sustainable transportation habits. This class was a part of a living lab-based, student-led courses program, the Education for Sustainable Living Program. Other students in the course focused on climate change and energy related projects.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Waste:

In Spring 2017, a group of five students created the “UCSB Zero Waste by 2020 Move-out and Move-in Campaign Plan” as their project for the undergraduate class WRIT 157A: Business Communication for Client Projects. The marketing plan is the students’ combined effort to create an organized strategy that will raise awareness for and encourage campus involvement in UCSB Zero Waste by 2020 Campaign. The plan focuses on two distinct parts of the academic year: move-in and move-out and aims to inform the campus community of how to properly dispose of unwanted good when leaving their living spaces, as well as promote sustainable practices for those moving in. Their work reflects the achievement of these goals in meeting the requests of: improving awareness for events and methods centered around waste disposal and donation of unwanted items, creating informative materials for housing and facilities management, and designing the plan with transferability to other UC campuses.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Water?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Water:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Coordination & Planning:

The UC-TomKat Carbon Neutrality Strategic Communication working group included six graduate and two undergraduate students from UCSB who participated in the working group’s efforts to develop an inclusive, effective plan for strategic communications to help UC achieve carbon neutrality. This work was aimed at informing UC regarding stakeholder perspectives and communication strategies relevant to its pursuit of the 2025 carbon-neutrality goal. The working group brought together experts in communication, education, political science, public opinion, psychology, sociology, engineering, sustainable design, and public policy as well as energy and sustainability practitioners. Its primary goal has been to develop a strategic-communication plan that the University of California can use to build the support, participation and behavioral change necessary for the university to achieve its carbon neutrality goal. In developing the strategic communication plan, the group 1) Identified and defined the primary UC audiences for information related to the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI); 2) Identified concerns and potential barriers that members of the UC community have expressed about the CNI; and 3) Developed a set of recommendations to address the concerns and barriers relating to the CNI.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Diversity & Affordability:

In May of 2017, students Billy Febuary, Andrew Good, and Mike Hui completed a study that centered around the living conditions of Isla Vista student residents. This study was the outcome of History 197IV, a course led by graduate student Salvador Rangel and sponsored by the UCSB Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy.Isla Vista is a square-mile community adjacent to UCSB campus with 84% of the population being students. The class conducted surveys with 216 residents that addressed living conditions, cost of living and education, employment, financial security, and food security. 181 of the 216 randomly selected residents who participated in the surveys were UCSB students employed within Isla Vista.The students’ main themes focused on poverty and how low income paired with high expenses degrades the quality of life for student-workers. The results of this survey-based study showed that working students in the college town of Isla Vista are under much financial stress and are pressured by the need to work as well as achieve a college education. The students conclude the report by stressing the need for change in wage, rent, and the amount of assistance provided to students by the university and the state.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Investment & Finance:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Public Engagement:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to other areas (e.g. arts & culture or technology)?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to other areas:

In Spring of 2016, Marcelo Mendez completed a research project entitled “Scale of Virtual Conferencing According to Departmental Use” for the Education for Sustainability Living Program. This report looks at teleconferencing as a means to reduce emissions caused by air travel while leaving scholarship intact. The report identifies how to keep scholarly research and business intact without compromising quality of communication by adopting green habits. Mendez uses data about each departments’ contributions to air travel to identify how to effectively and fairly reduce flights while addressing the needs of the departments. In the report, case studies are used to support using virtual conferencing as an alternative to conventional conferencing and their dependence on long-distance air travel. The reports also identifies how virtual conferencing would be applied to UCSB in terms of finances, stakeholders, and feasibility.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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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 stars@aashe.org.