Innovations ranging from Econauts and drought tolerant bio-swale landscaping to organic foods and "hydration stations" that eliminate the need for disposable water bottles are just some of the green surprises at the new batch at the University of California (UC), San Diego campus.
Underlining its reputation as one of the greenest campuses in the US, UC San Diego is initiating a huge housing program with a new 1,000-bed "village" project for transfer students that is tracking LEED silver certification.
"UC San Diego is a living laboratory for climate change solutions," said Mark Cunningham, director of Housing, Dining and Hospitality at UC San Diego.
"We have one of the nation's biggest student housing construction projects underway-nearly 4,000 beds over the next four years. We will be advancing seven housing projects simultaneously and they're going to be green, including some tracking LEED gold certified," he added.
"If we show these citizens of tomorrow they can live without plastic, air conditioning and other unnecessary amenities during their life on campus, they'll take these good consumer habits out into their future world," Cunningham said.
"And students will eat knowing that they are contributing to sustainability, social consciousness and their own healthy diets," said Krista Mays, sustainability manager for Housing, Dining and Hospitality.
"Our dining halls and markets will offer cage-free eggs; fair trade coffee, tea and sugar; organic food, and locally grown fruits and vegetables," he added.
In another first-time effort to help students with their sustainability efforts, seven student "Econauts" have been hired to provide peer-to-peer education.
The students will work with the campus residential life staff to educate students and dining customers about ways to reduce their carbon footprint and help UC San Diego meet sustainability goals.
Among these goals is reducing water consumption by 20 percent and achieving zero waste by 2012.
Sustainability is evident on back-to-school arrival, where, in place of lawn around the new buildings, there's native planting in bio-swale, which washes water through rocks and is absorbed into the land, minimizing the need for irrigation.
Entering their suites, the transfer students will receive a reusable recycling bag in which they can deposit plastic and glass bottles and jars, paper and newspaper, metal containers and cardboard to take to central recycling locations.
Additionally, UC San Diego will continue to provide each incoming freshman with a large reusable water bottle which can be filled at free filtered water "hydration stations" located throughout the campus.