Green UCR


Recycling in Laboratories: this is possible!

By Sustainability Interns | April 1, 2016

The humming of the autoclaves, people wearing lab coats, long rows of counter tops, and scientific instruments set up everywhere–it’s another day in a graduate student research building. Each week, the Green Lab Team gathers together to do a recycling audit in each of the research labs. We hope to educate researchers about the importance of being green as they conduct their experiments in their labs. Throughout the quarter, we would check the recycling bins to make sure that all of the contents are recyclable. As a team, we would also share with people what kind of items are considered recyclable. Many people were surprised to hear that paper towels and certain brands of latex gloves could not be placed in the bins because of contamination and they are already made from materials that could not be broken down any further. Over time, we found that the program was working very well! Each week we saw improvement and the recycling bin was always more full than the trash bins. Check here what can be recycle: mix recycling sign.

Carleen Rodriquez

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UCR Housing Residential Services provide Sustainability Programs

By Sustainability Interns | March 2, 2016

The best thing about UCR in regards to sustainability is the multitude of departments within this campus that are committed to going green. I think one department that is truly inspiring on campus is UCR Housing and Residential Services. This team by far is committed to improving the way students and workers think, learn, and act in regards to this topic. Residential life and services is dedicated to teaching not only its students but also its employees. Within the Residential Life staff there exists a Residential Director for ever Residence Hall. Aberdeen Inverness Residence Hall (A-I), managed by Residential Director, Laura Merchant, has helped and encouraged her Residential Advisor’s (commonly known as RAs) to implement green practices within their lives and jobs. A resident advisor is supposed to hold ten programs a quarter for their residents in order to promote bonding, good decisions, and broadening their knowledge. One of these ten programs the RA must put on must fall under the category of being a sustainability program.

Of the many pre-existing sustainable programs within A-I, one RA from Aberdeen-Inverness decided to make a program revolving around recycling. This RA compiled a bag filled with household items and decided to quiz his residents with what was recyclable and what wasn’t. The bag included everyday items such as milk cartons, plastic milk jugs, Starbucks “hot” and “cold” cups, ice bags, aluminum, pizza boxes, bright colored paper, tin cans, staples, chip bags paperclips, etc. Surprisingly, many of the RA’s residents didn’t know what was recyclable and what wasn’t.

The program proved seriously educational and transformed the way his residents disposed of their trash. The program became popular and within the following quarters, other RA’s began to ask to borrow the compiled bag of recyclables to host the program themselves. Years following, as the program began to align itself with Housing and Dinning’ green initiative, requests from RA’s of other Residence Halls such as Lothian, and Pentland would ask Aberdeen-Inverness to borrow the bag for their own programs.

Another successful program promoting sustainability, involved residents reusing jars to plant succulents inside. The RA’s talked about the importance of reusing household items and spreading green thinking within everyday residential lives. Allowing Residents to personalize their jars helped instill a fun and creative aspect to the program.

In addition to the internal recycling programs and planting succulents, Housing Residential Life Services has demonstrated their commitment to sustainability in their large-scale events as well. Housing Programs coordinator, Judith Ogunyoku, is in charge of a large-scale housing event in the spring previously called, GreenFest. Now called Plaza Palooza, the objectives and guidelines are still the same: to promote sustainability and sustainable living to the student body. The entire event is composed of individual student vendors; sustainable programs hosted by each residential building team, sustainable food trucks, and active lifestyle programs such as group yoga and circuit training. It’s a great event open to all students: on-campus and commuters.

A great thing to highlight within Plaza Palooza that is hosted by each of the Residence Halls is that each Hall: Aberdeen-Inverness, Lothian, Pentland, GlenMor, and Campus Apartments and Family Housing each have their own booths manned by their Residential Directors, Resident Advisors, and Program Coordinators. In these booths, they show guests how to make sustainable everyday things. Last year Aberdeen Inverness created handmade diffusers made from kabob sticks, reused mason jars, and essential oils, putting a creative and fun twist on upscaling items in your home!

It’s incredible the ways that Housing’s Residential Services has gone above and beyond to incorporate the importance of sustainability into its residences and staff.

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Styrofoam Cooler Recycling Program

By Sustainability Interns | February 12, 2016

Since the Fall Quarter of 2015, the Office of Sustainability has been conducting a Styrofoam cooler recycling program in several UCR research labs. Genomics, Boyce, Webber, and many other buildings receive massive quantities of Styrofoam coolers each week containing sensitive cargo. In order to accommodate both the needs of the lab and the environment, our Green Labs Team developed a system involving weekly pickups of each lab’s Styrofoam coolers in order to reduce the environmental footprint of our campus.

This quarter, we’ve added Keen Hall to our list of Styrofoam-recycling participants, adding up to a total of eight buildings participating in the program. Very exciting! Stay tuned for updates on new additions to the Styrofoam building list to see if your favorite lab is reducing its footprint!

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Save Energy by Defrosting Lab Freezers

By Sustainability Interns | February 9, 2016

This month in sustainability, I helped Delphine by defrosting lab freezers and testing ULT freezer at lower temperatures. It was fun installing the probes in the freezer, we are testing them at -70 and -80 degrees Celsius.

We give the research labs the opportunity to defrost their lab freezer by providing them with an empty freezer to use while the defrosting happens. When all the frost is gone, the freezer starts to work at the most efficient level again, saving lots of electricity use in the process.

What a Lab Freezer looked before: lots of frost and not energy efficient at all.

What a lab freezer looks like after: clean, no frost, energy efficient.

In the upcoming weeks we will be providing empty freezers to researchers, upon request. The main purpose of this program is to save energy. Energy savings are reached when the existing freezer defrost completely. After defrosting their freezers they will work more efficiently.

Testing freezers at a higher degree Celsius will provide important data that will allow researchers to raise the temperature of their freezer while saving energy.


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Meet Our New LEED Interns for 2015

By Sustainability Interns | December 10, 2015

Brenda Corona – LEED Team Leader

I am a senior majoring in Environmental Engineering with a minor in Environmental Science. I am interested in environmental infrastructures and sustainable alternatives as a possible career option. I am a strong advocate for protecting the environment. Currently, I am the Chair of an awesome and young organization, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) Student Chapter. If you wish to get involved, you can find our organization’s information on Highlander Link. My experiences have lead me to many wonderful opportunities by volunteering on and off campus in Riverside and San Diego.

I started volunteering and working for the Office of Sustainability since my sophomore year. I worked as a Power Ranger conducting Freezer audits and helped with the 13 solar panel benches that are on-campus. This year I have the opportunity to work on LEED EBOM certification for UCR buildings. The knowledge and skills that I am gaining with my supervisors and professionals are making a difference to the pathways I wish to follow and that is to help the environmental quality. Through the sustainability activities and UCR events, I hope to engage students in making the change that will positively impact our campus.


Rushi Patel – GCAP LEED Intern


I am a senior Electrical Engineering student. When I am not doing engineering work, I am either watching TV or playing basketball. I like to think that my life revolves around school and working out. My goal aside from graduating from UCR is to start a company of my own in a sub-discipline of Electrical Engineering. Currently I am working on a sumo robot project and taking my last set of Electrical Engineering classes, closing on a graduate date of June 2016.

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Inaugural UCR Office of Sustainability Newsletter – Fall 2015

By Sustainability Interns | October 1, 2015

What better way to welcome everyone back to school (and to this blog page) than with our first Office of Sustainability Newsletter! All the summer interns and staff at the Office of Sustainability worked hard this summer to make this newsletter happen. Thanks to all their efforts, we are very proud to share the Fall 2015 Newsletter.

Now you can read about all the sustainability events and news happening at UCR in one place. If you want this new quarterly newsletter delivered right to your inbox, please send us an email to sustain@ucr.edu.




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UCR Conserves Energy as You Invest it in Your Health at SRC Expansion

By Sustainability Interns | May 29, 2015

You’re running on that treadmill – pushing yourself to become healthier. You’re sweating in that air-conditioned room as you lift the weights that help you tone your muscles. You feel the burn while you use the exercise machines. While you’re flexing in front of that mirror in the Student Recreation Center (SRC), UCR is saving 5.2 billion BTUs in energy (or $56,000) annually. What? That’s right! But that’s not all – it’s being more sustainable in general. Let’s think about it…

How do you get to the SRC? Do you walk since it is conveniently close to the class you’re coming out of? Do you bike there since there is enough bike storage space for you and your spotter? Did you take the bus from home and arrive at stops that are a quarter mile away from the gym? That’s right, the SRC has made alternative transportation very convenient and available – helping you save more money on gas when you’re trying to get a good workout.

You may or may not have noticed that the SRC is in the middle of a huge patch of open space. Actually, there is three times more open space than there is gym – providing habitat for vegetation and wildlife. That’s right, that part of the gym is for the bunnies that enviously look at us cool ourselves off in the pool during a hot Riverside day. Enjoy the pool because the SRC also saves 2.1 million gallons per year due to their water efficient technologies.

You might think this is cool, because it is, or you might find a way to find a fault since you’re 20 and you like to complain. Well stop right there.

The gym was not built on time. The school made a promise it just couldn’t keep. We all patiently waited and became disappointed, then a little annoyed. We all felt that way, including me, it’s true – but we should forgive and forget. Here’s why:
• SRC diverted 99% of its construction waste from landfills. They saved 17.7 million pounds of metal, wood, and concrete from being tossed into the ground as “trash”, and instead made sure it went to a materials refuse facility for processing. This was a great way for Riverside to show its dedication to sustainability and global responsibility.
• UCR used materials that were either pre-consumer or post-consumer recyclable to build SRC.
• 73% of the wood used was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. What does that mean? The wood used promotes sustainable timber harvesting, preserves wildlife habitat and biodiversity, maintains soil and water quality, minimizes the use of harmful chemicals, and conserves forests of high conservation value.

Yes, they were a little late – but they were making a difference. It’s almost like when Peter Parker is late delivering pizzas because he was busy being Spiderman and saving people during the delivery.
So next time you’re on that treadmill, remember to think – this building is awesome. Not only do we have state-of-the-art equipment, an indoor track, indoor rock-climbing, and brand new tennis courts – but we also got these in a way that is representative of our values, through a LEED Certification (currently under review – let’s keep our fingers crossed for excellent results).  UCR is making a sustainable difference one Scottish bear paw at a time.


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UC Walks

By Sustainability Interns | May 21, 2015

May 20, 2015 was the sixth annual UC Walks. UC Walks is a system wide program coordinated by the wellness programs at each campus. This event promotes wellness and an active lifestyle by encouraging staff, students, and faculty to take at least 30 minutes out of their day to walk. This event aids in building community and campus spirit across the UC system.

A common New Year’s resolution tends to be for one to exercise more. However, throughout the year much motivation may be lost by individuals for a variety of reasons. So what are the life-long benefits of physical activity? If you want to feel better, have more energy, and even live longer, then you do not need to look much further than exercise. The benefits of an active lifestyle are shown regardless of age, gender, or current physical ability.

What are the benefits of an active lifestyle? Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help to maintain weight loss. Physical activities result in the burning of calories. The higher level of intensity of the activity increases the amount of calories burned. If it is unrealistic for you to set aside large chunks of time for exercise you can still be more active during the day with simple task such as taking the stairs instead of the elevators. Exercise also combats health conditions and diseases. Being active boosts the amount of good cholesterol in your body and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This combination keeps blood flowing smoothly, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular physical exercise can help prevent and/or manage a wide range of health problems from certain cancers to even depression. A gym workout or a brisk 30-minute walk can help improve your mood. Physical activity stimulates the brain and leaves you feeling happier or more relaxed. Through exercise you also begin to feel better about your appearance and how you feel about yourself. This improves your confidence and can boost your self-esteem. You begin to develop greater muscle strength and boost endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and can help your cardiovascular system to operate more efficiently. When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go through daily activities.

The bottom line on exercise is that it is a fantastic way to feel better, gain health benefits, and to have fun. A good general goal is to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This is the entire purpose of the UC Walks event. It the work world today it is common for individuals to be involved in a sedentary work life. The impact of this nature of work on an individual’s physical and emotional health is why it is so important to engage in daily physical activity. Exercise is important to ensure that your body is strong and healthy enough to meet the challenges that you set for it. So let’s all embody the spirit of UC walks and stay active each day.


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R’Garden Workshops

By Sustainability Interns | May 20, 2015

Dear Reader,
“What would you think about me starting a training program for our gardeners?” I asked my boss, Fortino, at a lunch in the University Village. “That sounds great,” he said, “Let’s take a look at our workbook and get a feel for what that would look like.” As we flipped through our hefty copy of the UCSC Teaching Organic Farming and Gardening workbook, it dawned on us! Instead of holding some sort of formal training program, why not provide weekly workshops in the garden that would be open to anyone who wished to sit in and learn?

We’d been wanting to host more workshops regularly, but found that requesting experts in the field to donate their time and resources to teach wasn’t as simple as we’d dreamed up. This was perfect, we thought! What better way to train ourselves and others than through a student-led movement? That day, we drew up a plan for roughly six weeks of lectures and workshops in the garden spanning from such broad concepts as permaculture to the narrow scope of cultural weed management practices and identification. We’re in our third week and so far, they’ve been really insightful and engaging.

The first week, I taught on soil biology and ecology. I am so enamored by the wonderful world of soils and wanted to share that fascination with the community! “I’m not an expert on any of this stuff,” I confessed to my best friend half freaking out, half super stoked as she sat with me while I tied up some loose ends on my presentation that week. “That’s why you’re doing it, remember? So that you can learn more!” She assured me. It’s true, I’ve heard that we learn best by teaching and let me tell you, I learned a lot that day!

The day for me to teach had arrived just as swiftly as I had planned it out and I got to the garden early that day to prepare our teaching space in front of the gates. I grabbed a wheelbarrow and shoveled up some soil, did some pinterest-y chalk work on the chalkboard, and set up my gallon glass mason jar. Thankfully, my wonderful colleague, Tracey, wrangled up all the gardeners and had them sit in our earthen benches.

“Hello everyone! Thanks for taking the time to hang out for a bit and learn about soils. I’d like to begin by having everyone grab a handful of soil,” I started. Each person got up and reached their hands into the wheelbarrow; once they all took their seats, I had them close their eyes. “We’re gonna get a little cheesy and mushy, all,” I laughed, “In your hands, you hold kingdoms, food-webs, and societies. In your hands, you hold ecological currency. You hold life.” Throughout the rest of the workshop, I covered the various types of soils and their horizons, what a healthy soil looks like and how we measure that, mycorrhizae and plant mutualism in soil, and the various biota and micro fauna in soil. Toward the end, I grabbed my mason jar and had everyone drop their handful of soil in. We added water and shook it vigorously! We then left it overnight to settle; the next day we had a soil profile ready for us to examine. Being in that small group and learning together was something rather unique and intimate. It’s been a really great way to learn more about organic gardening practices and theories. We will continue to hold these workshops every week until the end of the quarter, though we hope to continue throughout the summer and into the fall. We can’t wait to see you there!


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The Gift of Growth – Episode 2: Growing Relationships

By Sustainability Interns | April 23, 2015

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” – Cesar Chavez

I’ve cultivated and nurtured so many relationships in the garden; with the soil, with the plants, with the people but the most important relationship that I’ve nurtured is the relationship within myself.

Working in the garden, I have gained a greater respect for the earth and environment, the community, and also how my actions impact my own body and health. By treating myself better, I can interact with others from a place of positivity and love.

Anyone that comes into the garden is like a visitor coming into my home. I along with my amazing team welcome people from all walks of life to join us and find wellbeing and community in the garden space whether its gardening, food, company, nature, learning, jokes, or even selfies, everyone is a part of the human family in the garden. There is no separation, isolation, or exclusion in R’Garden. It’s a part of the name.

It has been great to see the increasing influx of people coming into the garden this past year. This increase which wouldn’t have been possible without the support and help of the UCR community. From students, volunteers, interns, staff, administration, visitors and other community organizations and businesses none of the things we have accomplished this year would have been possible. Things just seemed to have really come together this year with the garden, especially because of the UC Global Food initiative that was started by UC President Napalitano this past year.

The solar benches that were purchased last year (spring 2014) through HUB Administration and student funding through the student technology fund and Green Campus Action Plan (Green fund) – has given us our primary and sustainable source of energy at the garden. Through their use, we can power our tools and also our free summer movie nights that debuted last summer.

The neighboring solar farm which opened up towards the end of last year (fall 2014), also helped to bring publicity and administration out to the garden space.

As you can see it has been an exciting year in the garden, and it’s not even finished yet!
We just opened our community plots this quarter, and it is definitely off to a great start. It is wonderful to see the diversity that has come into the garden space; diversity in plants, people, and plot styles! Truly amazing to have added so many more people to the R’Garden Family. With this many people involved now, I feel more confident to graduate because I know this garden will be well looked after and will continue to grow long after I am gone. Although I definitely will come back as often as I can to revisit my kinship to this space and the folks that care for it.

Also if you haven’t been to the garden yet, now is definitely the time!

The spring time is perfection in the garden, the flowers are blooming, the summer crops are growing and Dig N’ Dance is around the corner!

Dig N’ Dance will be held on Saturday, April 25th from 5-7 PM in the R’ garden. We will have live music, food vendors, educational and student orgs, workshops, and planting/harvesting activities. Also, you will have the opportunity to join the Owner / Artist of Tio’s Tacos help build an elephant structure filled with plastic bottles.

If you can’t make it then you can always visit us to harvest produce and/or volunteer during our Spring open hours, which are M-F: 8-10 AM, 4-7 PM; Sat: 9 AM-12 PM; and Sun: 4-7 PM. No matter what, in the garden, you take something positive back home every day – whether it’s free food, new friends, or learning – no one every leaves without having received something from Mother Earth.


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More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Office of Sustainability
University Village
1223 University Avenue, Suite 200

Tel: (951) 827-1270
Fax: (951) 827-3890
E-mail: sustain@ucr.edu

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