Green Campus Action Plan Committee teams up with student organizations to host the UCR Sustainability Fair

On April 26, the UC Riverside Green Campus Action Plan (GCAP) Committee co-hosted the Sustainability Fair at noon at the Bell Tower in collaboration with the Office of Sustainability. The event featured almost a dozen different organizations and exhibits, each portraying various ways the university is tackling the challenges of climate change and energy efficiency.

According to Christopher Cebanas, a fourth-year environmental science major, the UCR Environmental Science Club (ESC) is committed to “recycling awareness, specifically educating the public on which types of items can and should be recycled on campus.” The Club’s booth provided students with leaflets offering guidance on how to keep the university trash-free.

Diana Oliva Sierra, a second-year entomology major, represented the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) at the fair. According to Sierra, CALPIRG is a student-run, student-funded activist organization that focuses on reducing the cost of tuition, protecting the environment, promoting civic engagement, advocating for renewable energy sources and lobbying for various social justice causes. “This year, we are currently working on pushing for SB100, a bill that would mandate switching our current transportation system to clean energy,” said Sierra. Additionally, CALPIRG plans to hold a press conference in the future to showcase students who have already pledged to switch to clean energy.

The Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) also presented their own booth, which promoted a fully electric Nissan Leaf automobile. According to Carolyn Ray, who works for the Center for Environmental Research and Technology, the purpose of the car was to inspire students to find alternative transportation sources and educate the public about sustainability research.

Samantha Hanson, a fourth-year environmental engineering major, presented a current research project that she and her team are working on, called Full Circle Engineering. “Our goal is to reduce ammonia emissions on farms, repurpose biochar enriched with ammonia and reuse it as a soil amendment,” said Hanson. “We are currently working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to create a full scale design to be implemented on dairy farms nationwide.” Essentially, Hanson’s project aims to encourage more sustainable methods of agricultural food production.

Finally, Seeds of Change, led by Gustavo Plascencia, the General Manager of Safety, Sustainability, and Special Projects at Dining Services, spoke to students about the current progress being made in the UCR dining halls. “This healthy eating initiative is directly modeled after the policies instituted by the Harvard School of Public Health,” he said. “Already, eight UC campuses are participating in Seeds of Change, which is bringing more sustainable food choices by introducing less sugary beverages and promoting more whole grain foods, healthier oils and an abundance of vegetables on the residential menu.”

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