Striving Towards a Sustainable UCLA

 Bonny guides the INFEWS trainees across campus while pointing out the various problems and implemented solutions to achieve sustainability.

Bonny guides the INFEWS trainees across campus while pointing out the various problems and implemented solutions to achieve sustainability.

 Innovative tower gardens located near the UCLA dormitories to demonstrate an approach towards urban farming.

Innovative tower gardens located near the UCLA dormitories to demonstrate an approach towards urban farming.

 A rooftop view of the water reclamation facilities cooling system.

A rooftop view of the water reclamation facilities cooling system.

Sprinkled about UCLA’s campus are both ongoing efforts towards sustainability and efforts yet to be tackled. Bonny Bentzin, the Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer at UCLA, guided the INFEWS trainees across UCLA’s 419 acre campus. On the tour, Bonny highlighted some of the pressing issues facing the campus’s strive towards sustainability.

A unique challenge facing UCLA is our juxtaposition of smallest land size yet largest student enrollment among the UC system. This problem, exclusive to the Los Angeles campus, exacerbates obstacles towards accomplishing a “greener” tomorrow. Among the numerous hurdles facing a populated, landlocked campus are the lack of adequate space for solar panels, ineffective food collection from edible plants, and the lack of infrastructure to process food waste. To address some of these issues, INFEWS graduate students, advised by UCLA faculty, are developing a number of solutions to overcome the sustainability issues currently facing UCLA. Among these projects are Dr. Braybook’s edible campus initiative and Dr. Kaner’s efforts towards more efficacious water purification.

While not all INFEWS projects are focused on the UCLA campus, the program is committed to bettering our immediate surroundings to set an example for the neighboring communities. We believe that in order to better advance the ideals of sustainability that we must demonstrate practical solutions on our own property so as to inspire others to implement more environmentally friendly practices. These practices are not only demonstrated by INFEWS’ ongoing efforts, but also by existing programs sprawled across Westwood. These include the tower gardens at the undergraduate dormitories to provide easy access to healthy food for the 40% of UCLA students that are currently suffering from food insecurity. On the opposite side of campus lies a water reclamation facility, tucked away inside the facilities management building that saves over twenty-eight million gallons of water a year.

Overall, UCLA is doing a lot to implement and improve its own green practices but needs the help of its student body and faculty to achieve our own ambitious goals. Among such goals include the initiative to send zero waste to a landfill by 2020 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. The INFEWS program will play a pivotal role in identifying and solving current inadequacies in UCLA’s approach towards a sustainable future!

Post and pictures submitted by Zach Hern and Ben Hoar. This blog is part of the INFEWS social media series “FEW and Far Between”.