By Hannah Buoye
Global warming and climate change: what can I do about it? The magnitude of the issue often leaves one frozen in shock. However, warming up to the idea of small behavioral changes and smart purchasing may provide some shade of relief for this looming global crisis.
The Green Campus Program, a pilot project of the national Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), is organized and run by student interns on 12 UC and California State University (CSU) campuses. Targeting universities and empowering students, the program focuses on raising awareness and making changes toward alleviating the effects of global warming.
“Global warming is a big issue,” said Rachel Shiozaki, Green Campus intern and coordinator for projects focusing on programs and housing. “With this project there is the larger ‘umbrella problem’ of global warming and climate change while the Green Campus program aims to develop students awareness of larger issues and smaller solutions they can do on a daily basis.”
UCSC’s three student interns, Tommaso Boggia, Rachel Shiozaki and Lauren Mills, have been working on projects within the Green Campus Program that include an energy audit of a campus facility building, an educational competition amongst residential colleges and the conversion to more energy-efficient appliances, such as low-flow showerheads.
Using GIS (Geographic Information System), Mills is also working on a map of campus areas that highlight amounts of energy and water use. Working with the Climate Change Action Research Teams from the Educational for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP), Boggia and Shiozaki have planned several projects and campus events focused on climate change.
Boggia explains that two main changes in daily life can reduce energy use; one is technological, one behavioral. Technologies such as light bulbs, motion sensors and timed thermostats can be installed. For example, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are 75 percent more efficient than normal incandescent bulbs. But the cheapest, fastest, and most efficient way to save energy is behavioral.
Boggia and three ESLP students are organizing an energy audit to evaluate and understand energy use in buildings and the different measures that can be taken to reduce energy use. This quarter, the team has decided to focus on Kerr Hall because it is a significant administrative building that houses the Chancellor’s office. The project begins with the audit this week.
“The energy audit is a very important part of sustainability because every time we flip a switch or use our computer, we are using energy that creates elements that pollute our environment,” said AÃ±jali Mehta, a member of the ESLP Action Research Team. Climate change and global warming are not only caused by greenhouse gases, but are also caused by our daily habits.”
Previous audits on other campuses have reduced their energy use by up to 15 percent with the adoption of studies’ behavioral recommendations. In performing the audit, Tommaso and his students expect similarly significant results.
Shiozaki’s project focuses on raising campus awareness of energy and water conservation competition between residential colleges. Although originally proposed for all 10 residential colleges, only Crown, Merrill, and Stevenson are participating this quarter. The project aims to reduce the energy and water uses of each college.
Utilities are measured through monthly metering by facility managers on campus, and the college that saves the most will be rewarded with a College Night-like event and a permanent visible plaque. Shiozaki was enthusiastic about this quarter’s event turn out and hopes to continue the program next year.
“Our goal is to reach out to as many residents in these colleges about climate change and energy as we can,” Shiozaki said. “Our ultimate goal is to have the competition come back each year and have more colleges participate.”
The incentive of a free electric bike was provided for the RA who got the most students involved. So far there has been a CFL exchange, a Blackout Battle which encouraged students to be conscience of electricity and water use, a Cinco de Mayo-themed event, and an informational movie night held at the college lounges to finish up the year.
Shiozaki is enthusiastic about the program’s activities this quarter and hopes students will take a more active role in supporting climate change education and convincing their residential colleges that this is an important issue.
“We need to educate people on why and how they should and can reduce electricity,” Boggia said. “On a smaller scale, you are saving money for the university and their offices, while on the larger scale, you have the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and preserving the environment.”