How green is your alley, if you live in one of Sacramento's numerous apartment complexes? Are the green lawns turned into urban gardens to grow vegetables in neighborhoods where fresh produce isn't available or affordable? Locally, are school children learning holistic sustainability in the Sacramento-Davis regional area? For example, UC Davis recycles cafeteria food scraps into 'biogas' that turn into electricity. Like trees, food scraps have a lot of plant wastes.
And are there classrooms where school children learn to tap the electricity in living tree trunks to run batteries? Are urban and rural students learning how tree power electricity is being used to prevent forest fires? The point is knowledge can trickle down from M.I.T. innovations and ideas made practical to local schools in Sacramento at almost every grade level.
According to the articles, "Electrical Circuit Runs Entirely Off Power in Trees," published Sept. 9, 2009 in Science Daily, and "Preventing Forest Fires with Tree Power," published Sept. 23,2008, in M.I.T. news. Plants generate electricity internally. Also check out the article, "Using tree power to prevent forest fires? | ZDNet."
Scientists at the University of Washington have created nanocircuits that use such a tiny bit of electrical power that they can run on the small voltages that trees create. Locally, in the Sacramento-Davis regional area, UC Davis turns cafeteria food scraps into 'biogas' that turn into electricity. Like trees, food scraps have a lot of plant wastes.
UC Davis turns cafeteria food scraps into biogas that turn into electricity. How else might the dining hall become more sustainable with the goal that almost nothing goes to waste?
How about learning green technology entrepreneurship and starting your own local business? There's also the chance for people to learn green technology entrepreneurship and create their own jobs.
In experiments with trees at other universities, such as M.I.T., small voltages coming from trees are called nanocircuits. There's an immense future in using the internal electrical power that trees have inside them without harming the trees. The electricity is going out into the air.
The nanocircuits students created run on the voltages that the trees create. How the scientists accomplish this tapping of free energy from trees is by using tailored "boost converters" which turns each tree's 200 millivolt voltage into very usable 1.1 volts of electricity. The 1.1 volts are close to that of a rechargeable AA battery.
The current capacity of the electricity is a lot lower in the tree. But circuitry is designed to allow the electricity to accumulate until enough electricity is built up in order to operate an electrical device for a short period of time.
Sensor system runs on electricity generated by trees
The electrical current given off by trees can power small devices to protect the trees. At M.I.T. (according to the article, "Preventing forest fires with tree power,") the researchers are looking into the idea of putting data-gathering instruments on trees. That way scientists can find out what the risk of forest fires is at any particular moment. The batteries would recharge themselves from the electricity given off from trees.
Then the tree-derived electricity would run low-power transmitters at certain predictable times. Trees would relay information from one tree to another until the data piles up in a hub. Finally, at the hub of that database, a more powerful transmitter would send the data to specific forestry command headquarters.
The whole idea is to make data transmission greener. Instead of cutting down trees, the idea is to nourish them, and as they give off their internal electricity just by thriving, the voltage isn't wasted into the atmosphere.
Instead, the idea is to route the electrical current to a hub. In such a way, it could be said, the trees are pulling their own weight as they give off fresh oxygen into the atmosphere. Nothing goes to waste from nature, is the idea.
UC Davis, Trees, and Sustainability: How Sacramento Rates in "How Green is your Campus?" Competition
Do most people actually make the environment their mission? Local University of California, Davis has been named as one of the winners in a "how green is your campus" rating competition, according to the May 8, 2010 Sacramento Bee article by Laurel Rosenhall, "UCD, Chico, UOP listed as greenest colleges in report." The contest focused on which university is able to save the most energy. And the winners were awarded a pizza party.
What's 'green' about the University of California, Davis is that the dining hall serves fruits and veggies grown on local farms. Universities also were rated in how much they cut down the pollution involved in trucking food long distances.
Other winners were Chico State University to see how much energy their dormitories can save. Freshman also at the University of the Pacific in Stockton competed in environmental science projects. It's not part of a science course. Instead, it's part of their introduction to the school. UC Davis is included in a Princeton Review guide listing 286 colleges nationwide that are working to be highly sustainable.
The published guide is online to spare the trees having to be cut down to make paper. The push is on to motivate teens to view the environment as this new generation's major cause, purpose, and mission.
Are students choosing colleges according to the school's green credentials? At least colleges are marketing their green credentials to recruit students. Environmental issues are the main marketing trend of universities come this fall.
Students are being appealed to on how they can make a difference regarding sustainability and "going greener." Students are presented ways in which they can be heard, make a difference, and stand up for the right to be more sustainable or 'greener.' In Sacramento, that means more local produce, more organic vegetables, and better instruction in sustainability techniques, issues, and careers.
According to the Sacramento Bee article, "two-thirds of students and parents going through the college application process said they want information about a school's commitment to the environment, according to a recent Princeton Review survey. A quarter of those said "such information would 'very much' impact their decision to apply to or attend the school," the report says."
Impacting the environment from preschool through graduate studies
How can Sacramento make local college campuses better impact the environment? You have to start at the elementary school level, from kindergarten teaching children about how they can be heard and make a difference, such as vegetable gardens on public school grounds for children to learn how to grow, care for, and eat more plant-based foods.
Sustainability here in Sacramento is about working with rainwater tanks will provide the water necessary for the bathrooms, landscaping and wine-making at UC Davis, but also you can use that technology anywhere else. As far as lighting, UC Davis will be using solar panels to produce the power the new technology building will use in the daytime.
Children need to learn more about where solar panels can be used to save energy. The technology can't be limited to a new winery building at a university.
What children need to learn is that energy efficiency and environmental design have standard levels for energy efficiency. These levels are called "LEED." The winery is only one of two LEED buildings on the UC Davis campus.
Other campuses have LEED buildings, solar panels, and tout renewable energy or sustainable construction, biodiesel, recycling, and programs on reducing energy use, for example, Chico's recycling program.
The latest generation of students have driven the change. They have made a difference and are heard. You now have new careers on campuses this decade such as "sustainability coordinators." Last decade web design was the rage. This decade's buzz word is sustainability.
People in charge of sustainability on campuses and in businesses are responsible for 'green' practices such as a change in building techniques and the use of clean energy. Will sustainability as a goal create more jobs in Sacramento? Will it extend to jobs in waste management, transportation, food services, and agriculture?
UC Davis has its own farm, where students grow organic crops for other students and employees to buy by the bushel. If you look at the paper cups and candy wrappers or straws, they're recycled. Some student housing has solar panels, according to the Sacramento Bee article. The shuttle buses on campus use natural gas.
Are UC Davis students majoring in sustainability subjects?
Engineering students are testing plug-in hybrid cars that get 100 miles per gallon. Design students are developing lamps that use minimal electricity and need their lights changed every 15 years.
Even the food servers and cooks at UC Davis's dining hall offer fresh produce, vegetarian entrees and vegan desserts. A sign next to a bowl of kiwis says they were grown on the Dalai Farms in Gridley 70 miles from campus.
Walk into UC Davis cafeteria. You'll find organic fruit and vegan menus. UC Davis can grow its own vegetables. How many campuses could benefit by using some land to grow organic fruit or vegetables served in its own cafeterias?
Want to Attend The Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy?
Apply early each year as the academy fills quickly. They accept 50 participants. The class is held at the Tahoe Center for Environmental Research, Incline Village, NV. Check out the website if you're thinking of possibly applying for next summer.
In addition to science and engineering undergraduates and graduate students or post-doctoral researchers, can people from all walks of life learn about green technology and sustainability and apply it to their interests? Environmentally sustainable research needs to move into the community instead of staying in laboratories.
Green technology entrepreneurship schools
The Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy (GTEA) provides science and engineering senior undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and faculty with the knowledge and skills they need to move environmentally sustainable research out of the laboratory and into the world, according to its website.
Learn to analyze, enhance and communicate the broader potential impact of your research. Explore commercial opportunities surrounding your technology. Develop a network of professionals in clean tech who can help mentor and connect you as you move forward with your career or new venture.
The five-day intensive academy provides participants with focused lectures, practical exercises, and hands-on experiences designed to give them the knowledge, skills, and networks to explore how their research can make broader impact in industry, the marketplace, and the world.
The GTEA is taught by venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, university faculty, intellectual property officers, industry sponsors and angel investors from across the country that serve as mentors as well as guest faculty, providing participants with the knowledge and networks needed to take the next steps toward commercialization.
How do local produce such as organic fruit and vegetables get from the farm to the market if the farmer can't afford the transportation fees?
Students need to learn ways of getting local produce to the public and other ways to save energy and create better sustainability on an individual basis as well as on campuses. The idea is that children and college students can influence the way colleges become more environmentally sound. The green sustainability cause or mission is more than marketing and packaging.
Not only colleges, but elementary and high schools need to teach sustainable practices in classrooms--not only in botanical science courses but in cooking, social sciences, and business courses and in courses in engineering. Courses that teach sustainable practices are also in construction and design--interior design and architecture. Schools need to train people to design energy-efficient lighting.
Do auto mechanics courses teach students how to build cars that run with different or fewer fuels?
Auto mechanics courses need to teach students in community colleges not only to repair cars but to build cars that run with fewer or different fuels. You need classes in growing crops that make better use of limited water.
This type of class can start in elementary school and proceed to career training in agriculture and horticulture in adult education, community colleges, and in universities. The first step is finding qualified teachers, if the money is there to pay them.
How many schools in Sacramento teach sustainable practices?
Who will teach water management? At UC Davis, how many students know that they can learn water management by taking a course in winemaking? The UC winemaking program has an engineering professor teaching students to create water-management systems.
Working with rainwater that can be reused five times
The idea is simply working with rainwater. You catch the rainwater and reuse it five times. It's learning how the technology is done, hands-on. But how many people in Sacramento know that to learn about rainwater technology, it's found by signing up for a winemaking course? The technology will be part of a new winery and brewery on the University of California, Davis campus.
The big picture is to get people to use a lot less water. In the future, there will be limitations on water. But why isn't this technology discussed more in public schools today in Sacramento?
Teaching kids technology a decade before they need to use it
The goal is to teach kids technology a decade before they need to use that technology, according to the Sacramento Bee article. You want kids to grow up from pre-school through university levels to learn that there is a technology here that runs on water that it captures or makes.
You don't have to take a course in winemaking to know kids from kindergarten onwards need to be taught how to collect rainwater and reuse it to grow plants. That's what people can learn from the new technology under construction at UC Davis. The word has to spread beyond winemaking and brewery science.