UC Merced Connect: Campus keeping it sustainable

February 5, 2013 

Sometimes, what goes on behind the scenes is as important as what happens in full view -- especially when it comes to UC Merced's pledge to uphold and develop sustainable practices.

Across campus, sustainability is on the minds of hundreds of staff members who, every day, push the university closer to realizing its Triple Zero Commitment to consume zero-net energy, produce zero landfill waste and produce zero-net greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Sustainability is the guiding principle in campus design, planning and operations. UC Merced is the only university in the country where all of its buildings are LEED certified.

UC Merced has a 1-megawatt solar array that helps power the campus, and the Central Plant, an iconic campus structure where water is heated or chilled during nonpeak times to warm or cool classroom and office buildings. Both provide significant savings.

Sustainability drives decisions about everything from cleaning supplies and grounds maintenance to teaching, research and how the campus purchases the thousands of supplies that keep it running.

"It all gets discussed and evaluated constantly," said Zuhair Mased, the campus director of energy and sustainability. "We even think about the proper locations for trash and recycling bins to offer maximum accessibility to users and to the people who empty them."

Ever wonder why UC Merced serves only Pepsi products? It's because Pepsi offered the best deal on its soda products, plus compostable cups and money for sustainability programs.

Cindi Deegan, director of purchasing, said she has negotiated sustainability benefits into supply and service contracts, including compostable cups, energy-efficient vending machines, and locally sourced food, parts and labor.

She, like many others, constantly thinks strategically about sustainable sourcing opportunities when negotiating contracts for equipment, supplies and services.

This strategic focus may include considerations such as where campus food comes from, and where, how and with what materials furniture is manufactured and even how it is transported.

"We're trying to model things that can be copied," Deegan said. She hopes UC Merced will become the systemwide model for sustainable procurement practices.

The campus community is encouraged to maintain sustainable habits and to bring ideas to facilities management.

"We partner with everyone here to create and maintain a sustainable campus," Mased said. "We can design the most energy-efficient buildings in the world, but it's up to the tenants and users to keep it going -- to be part of that legacy."

Professor to give talk on LA at film screening

Professor Ignacio López-Calvo will introduce and screen Dennis Hopper's film "Colors" at 7 p.m. today in the Classroom and Office Building, Room 286. The event is free and open to the public.

The 1988 film starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall is an intricate panorama of Los Angeles gangs and police who try to control them.

López-Calvo's introductory talk is titled, "The Other Forgotten Landscapes and Cityscapes of California: The Los Angeles Mexican American Barrio."

For further information, contact Tom Hothem at thothem@ucmerced.edu or (209) 217-7247.

UC Merced Connect is a collection of news items written by the University Communications staff. To contact them, email communications@ucmerced.edu.

Merced Sun-Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service