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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Annual student housing energy and water challenge promotes sustainable changes across campus

UC Davis Student Housing and the Arboretum and Public Garden work toward creating a more eco-friendly campus through water conservation 


By ANGELINA ANGELO — campus@theaggie.org


UC campuses hold the annual Energy & Water Challenge to promote sustainability among university residents. This year, the sustainability team for UC Davis Student Housing tested Cool Campus, an online platform used to track all UC campuses’ challenges. The website allowed participants to score points by completing simple sustainable tasks and answering questions. It also presented rankings via a weekly scoreboard. 

The challenge ran from Feb. 7 to 27 across all resident halls and on-campus housing. There were a total of 38 possible teams divided by housing location, but only 13 teams chose to participate this year.

“We are […] promoting sustainability through small, sustainable practices that students can start on campus and then apply to apartment living and other aspects of their life,” Liz Shepherd, the Student Housing and Dining Services sustainability specialist, said. 

Beyond sustainability goals in UC Davis Student Housing, the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden is also working to conserve water, according to Andrew Fulks, the assistant director of the Arboretum and Public Garden.

This has been a long term effort beyond the current drought, though efforts are certainly advancing in ways that will deal with our current climate reality,” Fulks said via email.

The Urban Tree Stewardship team, the Sustainable Landscape team and the Arboretum staff are working together to develop a campus-wide plan entitled the Living Landscape Adaptation Plan (LLAP) that includes converting turf areas to drought-tolerant landscaping and creating a healthy tree canopy. 

“The LLAP will be the roadmap toward a sustainable future as it pertains to the campus urban ecosystem,” Fulks said.

According to Shepherd, the Sustainable Housing Team saw significant participation and involvement in the water and energy challenge.

“As of Feb. 15, there are 182 users across 13 teams from the residence halls and apartments, with hundreds of actions being completed,” Shepherd said.

Malia Reiss, a second-year environmental science and management major and a student sustainability educator, echoed Shepherd’s statement.

“Hundreds of actions have already been taken, and many are quite simple,” Reiss said. “From taking a shorter shower, turning the water off while brushing, washing your clothes in cold water, or properly sorting your trash — there are many ways to earn points.”

Students could complete other tasks like attending resident garden hours, signing up for the sustainability newsletter and unplugging any devices once they are fully charged. 

“Students can take small actions to make big differences and see a change in the environment,” Reiss said.

Written by: Angelina Angelo — campus@theaggie.org


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