Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Campus Ranks Among "Cool Schools" for Commitment to Sustainability

UC Merced has been ranked among the “Cool Schools” by the Sierra Club’s Sierra Magazine because of its commitment to sustainability.

The ranking, which was released this week, looked at more than 170 campuses around the country. UC Merced is ranked No. 51.

All of the UC undergraduate campuses made the list, with UC Irvine ranking No. 1.
This year’s rankings for other UC campuses:
  • UC San Diego: 17
  • UC Santa Barbara: 24
  • UC Berkeley: 32
  • UC Santa Cruz: 35
  • UC Davis: 55
  • UCLA: 60
  • UC Riverside: 90

The “Cool Schools” rankings come from a survey of sustainability practices at 173 four-year undergraduate universities in the United States. UC campuses have been routinely represented in the top 10 of the rankings since Sierra began publishing them in 2007.

UC Merced is the only campus to have every single building project LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, and sustainability is part of the campus identity, grounds, facilities, maintenance and purchasing policies to recycling and reuse in and out of classrooms and labs, as well as in research and curriculum.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cleaning up the Grasslands

The open space next between campus and Lake Yosemite seems to be a catch area for all the garbage the wind can blow. 

That’s why, on July 28, a group of volunteers spent the morning picking up trash there. 

“We met at 8 in the morning, armed with litter sticks, gloves and plastic bags, and we split up into teams and set out to three different areas,” said Maria Vega, a housing and dining employee who focused on the trash problem with 13 others. “Among the places we collected trash from were areas adjacent to the campus and the Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve.” 

These areas are all marked with signs of sensitive resource management areas, and it’s important to keep them clean because the garbage endangers wildlife and the ecosystem, and could spread to the campus’s new nature reserve, too. 

“It was evident where the trash was coming from,” Vega said. “The fence lines and grass areas inside the park were speckled with plastic bags and other litter.” 

 The volunteers -- including one faculty member, one staff member, two local high school students, a community member, four incoming freshmen, and undergrads – spread out to collect as much as they could. 

 They filled 40 bags.

“Along our paths, we came across squirrel burrows and vernal pools that were contaminated with bits of trash, big and small. Though the wind had helped us collect most of the trash along the fence lines, the burrows were a hot spot for Styrofoam cups and plates,” Vega said. 

 Plastic bags and napkins clung to spines of endemic coyote thistle growing in the dry vernal pools, and leftover picnic supplies lined the burrows. Also among the trash collected: bottles, candy wrappers, cups, sundried plastic bits and bags, beach balls, golf balls, party invitations, receipts and more.

 “We must try to be mindful of the waste each of us is responsible for,” Vega said.

Monday, May 19, 2014

UC Merced Commencement Gowns Go “Green”

When some 1,000 undergraduate students walked across the stage at the campus’s ninth and largest commencement ceremonies, there was something noticeably different from previous years.

In an effort to continue the campus’s commitment to environmental stewardship, this year’s candidates donned dark blue gowns made of recycled water bottles, giving them an extra reason to be proud of their degrees.

Each Renew gown by Herff Jones uses about 29 post-consumer plastic bottles, collectively using nearly 32,000 post-consumer plastic water bottles. After commencement, graduates could drop off their Renew gowns in specially marked bins so they can be recycled into future gowns. Graduates keep their cap and tassel to commemorate their accomplishments.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Student’s Lengthy Academic Journey Concludes at UC Merced Commencement

For Helen Dahman, college was always more marathon than sprint.
Now 73, Dahman was just out of high school when she took her first college classes. But she wasn’t ready then and instead entered the workforce, married, raised a family and volunteered at her sons’ schools.
Yet the idea of a university degree never disappeared. On May 18, Dahman concludes her personal academic marathon as the oldest student to graduate from UC Merced.
“It’s a good finish — this completes the journey,” said Dahman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in literatures and cultures last December. “It’s kind of like the candle on the cake.”
Dahman, who lives in Madera, has several reasons to feel a connection to UC’s 10th campus. She was born in Merced and the family sometimes spent time at Lake Yosemite, which borders the campus.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UC Merced Ranks Among Greenest in North America

UC Merced is one of the 332 most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada, according to The Princeton Review.

"UC Merced is a living laboratory for sustainability in the 21st century," said Jim Genes, special assistant to the vice chancellor for Business and Administrative Services. "The campus has won 25 awards for sustainable design since 2005, faculty use our buildings for energy efficiency research and students use our wireless water meter technology to compete in national residence hall conservation competitions. UC Merced's listing in the Princeton Review helps us share this culture of sustainability with prospective students and their families."

The education services company today released its Guide to 332 Green Colleges: 2014 Edition. The Princeton Review chose the schools for this guide based on a survey it conducted in 2013 of administrators at hundreds of four-year colleges to measure the schools' commitment to the environment and to sustainability. The institutional survey included questions on the schools' course offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation.

To produce the guide, The Princeton Review partnered with the United States Green Building Council, best-known for developing the LEED green building certification program.