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UC San Diego Campus on Display as Living Laboratory at Engineers for a Sustainable World Conference

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Students Preuss School cut wood for an Engineers for a Sustainable World project at their school, located on the UC San Diego campus. 

San Diego, Calif., Oct. 11, 2012 -- About a hundred students from across the nation will converge on the UC San Diego campus Oct. 19 to 21 for the eighth annual Engineers for a Sustainable World national conference. The event brings together student leaders from the organization’s 31 chapters, experts and professionals to discuss engineering solutions and strategies to solve pressing environmental and socioeconomic problems.

The organization’s UC San Diego chapter at was selected to host the event after a rigorous competitive process. It’s the first time the conference takes place on the West Coast.

“The 2012 National Conference is more than just an event; it is the culmination of the efforts of more than 1,000 engineering and sustainability leaders around the nation,” officials said in a statement. “The conference will empower the leaders in the future, and further solidify their commitment to building a sustainable world.”

The keynote speakers will be best-selling science fiction author David Brin and Envision Solar CEO and President Desmond Wheatley.  Wheatley’s company installed the solar-panel trees gracing the roof of the Gilman parking structure.

The conference will also feature members of the UC San Diego faculty and staff. David Weil, the campus’ director of Building Commissioning and Sustainability, will talk about how UC San Diego acts as a living laboratory for leading sustainability technology programs. UC San Diego buildings are being designed or retrofitted to conserve energy, water and other resources. The campus purchases everything from paper to dining hall food from sustainable-practice suppliers. Solar photovoltaic arrays, ultra-low-emission, high-efficiency gas-fired cogeneration plant and energy-efficiency projects have significantly reduced the campus’ emissions of greenhouse gases and generate more than $8 million in savings annually. Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to tour the campus’ microgrid. Michelle Perez, who works on UC San Diego’s LEED projects, also will speak.

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Students pose with a machine that uses hexane to efficiently extract oil from used coffee grounds collected from campus coffee shops. This extracted oil can then be used as fuel or converted into biodiesel. After the oil extraction process, ESW will be donating the leftover coffee grounds to the Neighborhood Garden, located behind the Che Cafe, to use as fertilizer.

The conference will allow the UC San Diego chapter to showcase its projects. Students are building a rain barrel collection system at the Preuss School, a charter school located on the UC San Diego campus; an affordable, fully sustainable mobile home; and a biogas digester for villages in Northern Thailand, among other projects.

They also are building a mobile solar charging station that could provide power for consumer electronics, such as mobile phones and laptops, anywhere on campus. Its primary function would be to act as a recharging station for UC San Diego’s 300-odd electric vehicle fleet. The project is ongoing but will not be featured at the conference.

Other conference speakers and workshops include:

·         Glenn Croston, author of “75 Green Businesses” will describe a methodology for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint while still being successful and making money.

·         Michael Wonsidler, the waste management coordinator for the County of San Diego, will discuss ways to move toward sustainable organic material management.

·         Dawn Danby, a sustainable design enthusiast and the leader of the Sustainability Workshop at Autodesk, will take participants through a series of exercises to help them discover how their intentions can lead to a more sustainable world by improving the environmental impacts of user behavior.

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