Sustainability Design Challenge - All Designs

Here is a list of all previous Sustainability Design Challenge entries, sorted by year.


Sustainability Design Challenge Teams 2018

The problem that we are trying to assess is the large use of bottled water in USF. Bottled water costs 2000 times more than tap water. In addition to being costlier bottled water’s taste deteriorates and there are various health risks to consuming bottled water (United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2017a). Not only might one be hurting one’s pocket, enjoyment and health, buying bottled water contributes to ocean debris as well as being the one of the top three trash item found during Coastal CleanUp Day, with 988,965 plastic bottles collected (Ocean Conservancy, 2018a). Choice architecture dictates that design can affect behavior. Cafeterias are a common place in which choice architecture is applied usually to promote healthy eating by for example placing healthy food in hard to reach places or inconvenient places. Our idea is to use choice architecture to decentivize the purchase of bottled water in the USF cafeteria by placing bottled water in harder to reach places and spots. As part of the young new field of behavioral economics, choice architecture is a strategy that is used in many scandinavian cafeterias and other progressive places. This is an idea that is truly revolutionary in that it is so multidisciplinary.  
 
In addition a survey was conducted at the University of San Francisco to find out the extent to which choice architecture could affect the behavior in the cafeteria with the goal of decreasing the use of bottled waters to help the environment. We created a logo to help the recognition of water fountains and water dispensers already provided to students. We also came up with the idea to add on the location of water fountains to an existing map on the USF website that shows the places where bike racks, LED light  and disabled-friendly facilities are available. Our project costs $0. Yes, NO COSTS, and it can be implemented as fast as in an hour! With the cost being none, even the slightest effects will outweigh the cost. The effects of choice architecture successfully changing consumer behavior is well supported by empirical data.

One of the biggest problems is food insecurity. Nationally 36% of university students are food insecure. Here at USF 2,500 people live on campus, and on average have 400 dollars excess on their meal plans at the end of each semester. Our focus is on social sustainability, especially enhanced livability. If people's basic needs are met they will be able to have more opportunities to better themselves as well as their communities. Unused flexi tends to lead to less environmentally friendly decisions and with this we could reduce food waste in the cafeteria as well as bringing people to a place where composting and recycling are more accessible. We have a solution to these excess funds as well as food insecurity, Plate.  Plate is a fully designed fully functional app that incentives users to donate unused flexi to those who need help. This allows us to give food to those who need it while reducing waste, we are also creating a sustainable community where students aren't worried about their basic needs. This app is absolutely free, there is no cost associated with it. We can easily grow beyond our campus to make our entire nation more sustainable. 

Our team created a survey to find out USF student’s current attitudes and beliefs around sustainability, and found that students guide and encourage their peers to lead more sustainable behaviors such as recycling, taking shorter showers, etc. however, our data also revealed that students feel that they do not have sufficient knowledge on the subject and therefore aren’t confident in leading peers. Students also reported that they felt USF needed to promote education and awareness regarding sustainability. We then asked how they preferred this education to be facilitated, and a significant majority chose via a mobile application. So, we built a prototype for a mobile application that functions on a basic level. Our idea is for an interactive trivia game that includes trivia questions centered around environmental science, USF’s use/waste statistics, etc. Students will be able to compete against one another, or even against faculty! We have included a feature that allows students to create questions that will then be approved (or not) by students/professors in the Environmental Studies. Furthermore, we have been discussing rewards that will include possible internship opportunities at Hienrich Boll Stiftung, opportunities to attend conferences (provided by connections through the Sustainability Office at USF), and possible extra credit/day late passes given on a oneto-one basis depending on the professor. Our idea does not require funding, but it will require labor to maintain the mobile application and also to monitor and vet questions. We propose that this duty can be taken care of by students in the Environmental Studies department, or an environmental club on campus. 

Don’s place is an online marketplace that encourages sustainability by allowing students to recycle items that they no longer need. The problem we have on campus is the amount of items students throw away throughout and at the end of the semester. Students resort to dumping unwanted reusable items which end up in landfills because of convenience. Another issue is that there is an excessive use of posters, which creates a high amount of paper waste. In addition to that, many students use delivery services, such as Amazon Prime, which creates even more paper waste and an unneeded release of emissions. Don’s Place provides a solution to these problems by allowing students to list their items for sale to earn extra income. Students can also refer to a section on Don’s place for getting rid of unwanted items by giving it to other students for free. This idea of ecommerce and recycling would motivate students to come onto the platform to potentially earn extra income. For example, if a student at the end of the year wants to get rid of a refrigerator, he/she has the option to sell it to another student rather than just throwing it away. The platform can also provide a space where campus organizations can advertise their events electronically and decrease paper consumption on campus. Most importantly, Don’s Place creates a safe environment because it is exclusive to USF students. Websites, such as Craigslist or eBay are full of strangers that can scam students or harm students during transaction meetings. With Don’s Place, we create less waste, secure transactions, and change the discussion around sustainability at USF. 

For our project we created an app called Venture. This app will help USF students that are new to the San Francisco area. This app will help students get around the city by using public transportation. A lot of students that are new to the area tend to use Uber or Lyft because when using public transportation it can be a little confusing. For USF students they already have a MUNI bus pass so they will be saving money when they use public transportation. A survey was conducted to see whether USF students use public transportation. The results came back that a lot of students don’t use public transportation because they are not comfortable with using it. The results also showed that students want to be more ecological and the best way they can do that is by using public transportation. The app will help students adventure and explore the city that they are living in. Venture focuses on demystifying the city by introducing students to the neighborhood around San Francisco. From the app, a student can discover what is going on in a neighborhood (restaurants, bars, concert halls, parks, and events) and be able to navigate to those events by using public transportation. In addition, you can then share your travel plans with your friends so they can tag along. The application allows students to share their plans with friends through text and calendar. The app also features tours for students to venture around the city and discover the great city San Francisco. Traveling with friends makes students more likely to use public transport. When friends travel together they feel more safe. This benefits the city and USF students in many ways such as saving money, reducing traffic in and around USF as well as in the city which leads to better air quality. 

We have created an intervention that aims to encourage users to save water by changing their water consumption habits through interaction with a gamified educational app. It is expected that a change in water consumption behavior will begin to occur when underlying psychological beliefs are altered through a combination of motivational and persuasive strategies within the app. If we reduce water consumption, it would help our University to reduce the spending on water utilities. It will also promote students to cultivate waste-conscious habits that will contribute to the global effort to reduce wasting water. Since USF is a large infrastructure and community within San Francisco, reducing our water consumption would positively impact the city as a whole. 

Our project takes aim that the large amount of cigarette butts that currently lie on our campus. People regularly discard the waste from their smoking habits on our campus' sidewalks without considering the environmental consequences. We feel that there are more efficient methods of disposing of these loose ends. Although the university has created efforts of picking up these butts, our community still faces significant challenges. To detect the cigarette butts, we will need to create a detection system within the specialized trash can. To detect a cigarette butt, we have thought of 2 factors, color and size, to differentiate. Using the general color differentiation of a cigarette butt, orange and white, we could create an algorithm which would detect these certain colors.There are devices, such as camera modules, which could perform both of detecting the size and color for low prices. We are planning to have a “points” based rewards system, where every person will get a benefit based on the amount of buds they place into our specially designed 
bins. The application will be part of the myUSF app. We will incorporate the existing database of students and QR scanner in the application. Our team seeks to create an incentivized system of recycling. We will give a student a QR code which will be stuck outside the trash can, where they could scan and claim the points. For each cigarette butt thrown away, 8 cents will be given to the student. We aim to establish a partnership with USF bookstore. We feel this would be a good reward for the student and promotion and ethical image for the bookstore. A final points given for each cigarette can be finalized with the bookstore later.

Everywhere we turn, our lives are becoming more and more digital. Digital billboards, mobile phones, smart watches, and virtual reality are becoming our reality as we transition from traditional marketing and advertising into digital methods.  But what are the advantages of digital marketing over traditional methods? Seven important points to consider are: customer experience, competitive advantage, increased visibility, brand awareness, return on investment, interactivity, and reduced waste. Each of these factors are significantly increased and heightened when digital marketing is utilized to achieve a specific result. Digital signage is a form of communication that allows brands to make their content available in targeted locations, marketing towards specific customers.

Most people who live in San Francisco, must have a memory of being jammed in the middle of a street, or driving a mile in 10 minutes, or spending half an hour looking for a parking spot or something like those scenarios. The heavy traffic, the heavy usage of vehicles not only contributes carbon emissions, but also brings great inconvenience to daily lives. A common and efficient solution is carpool. There are a lot of carpool policies in U.S., in California, in San Francisco, and in our campus. There are carpool lanes, there are as well as carpool permits. They are 
working very well. But there is always a wondering for any artifact, that is “Can it be better?” It can be, especially in our campus. We mainly focus on 2 disadvantages: Currently the carpool usually requires at least 2 persons per vehicle. But even a sedan can usually have 5 persons usually. And not everyone has the motivation to fully fill his/her vehicle when he/she has already met the carpool requirement. So right there we find a gap which is possible to be filled. The safety issue and the awkward silence around strangers also could be obstacles for looking for carpool partners. As an example, Uber has a feature called Uber pool. We have saw the convince and we also have seen that so many problems happened to Uber. Most of them are safety related.  Based on the points aforementioned, here we present our solution to reinforce the existed carpool solution by eliminating information silos and bringing safety and social communication, eventually we can change the behavioral pattern of students and faculties to support sustainability and build up a better world. 

The primary source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States is transportation, which is nearly 28.5 percent. Students often choose to drive from or to campus by themselves because they do not feel comfortable taking an UBER or public transportation. With this app, students would be able to choose sustainable transportation and also be comfortable since the riders and drivers are familiar faces. This app is not only for the USF environment but also for the USF community as a whole. USFPool is a convenient app which will link USF students who are heading in the same destination. Students can use the app by signing up and providing their personal information (e.g. full name, student id, debit/credit card). Those who sign up will be able to sign up as either the carpooler or the driver. As a student carpooler, they will provide their destination they are headed to and the app will link them to their fellow peer drivers. As a student driver, they will also provide their destination they are headed to and the app will link them to their fellow peer carpoolers.  After successfully completing your profile, you will be able to start carpooling! 

By the time most students finish their first year of college, they learn to become money crunchers, trying to stretch every last penny into the next week. For those who are learning to live on their own for the first time, this can become a long and hard lesson learned through trial and error. At USF, 79% of students live off campus, meaning most students after their first year are providing food for themselves.  As students who are busy with school, we often forget the little things. With little time on our hands, we grab whatever is in front of us in the fridge and forget about everything else inside. When the weekends come along, that’s when you remember the rotting lettuce in the back of the fridge or the expired gallon of milk. You throw out the lettuce. You pour out the milk. The immediate feeling of guilt washes upon you as you’ve just wasted food and money. Our team experienced this personally, and wanted to know if other college students were feeling the same, so we distributed a survey. The results of our survey showed that there was a positive correlation between the frequency of shopping and spending habits. Approximately 93% of the participants admitted to feeling guilty when throwing out unused produce, as it also meant that they were wasting money as well. 71%  of the participants also agreed that they tend to forget what’s in the fridge, reassuring the idea that most people need reminders to consume the produce in their fridge before expiration.  Overall, a majority of students reported that money is the first and foremost factor that plays into decreasing food waste behavior, because not only does it bring mindfulness to being more resourceful, but that they are responsible for the expired food. A fair amount of students reported that not wasting food was in their upbringings, while others were aware of how poorer areas need more food.   From these results, we decided to do research globally on food waste and sustainable behavior. We found that on average, the individual American wastes $1500 dollars a year throwing out unused groceries. This means every month, at least one full bag of groceries is thrown into the trash can. When looking at food waste on a large scale, Americans waste approximately $218 billion dollars on thrown out, expired produce. If we took 30 percent of this waste and used it properly before expiration, we could feed 46 million Americans facing poverty today. When taking matters into a global scale, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted, with approximately 45 trillion gallons of freshwater used to farm produce. While produce is the largest factor in terms of using up water, it also is the first to expire and rot in the fridge. By using our My Fridge app, we want to send simple reminders to students to use up their groceries. They will be able to log their grocery purchases, track progress, and see how other USF students are doing. Eventually, this app will be implemented on other college campuses, so sustainable behavior will be prominent around the United States. The app will also suggest local discounts at grocery stores and resources to learn compost behavior and why we should use it. Overwall, we want to teach students how to go through the entire life cycle of sustainable behavior and bring USF together, one fridge at a time. 


Sustainability Design Challenge Teams 2017

There are thousands of pounds of food being wasted in the average restaurant, and USF cafeteria serving 1500 meals a day, there is even a higher amount of food being wasted. There are about 7 and a half thousand homeless in San Francisco who have become accustomed to hunger. Instead of sending delicious food to the landfill, our solution would be solving two problems: wasting food and hunger. Our solution, we have students participate in a class very similar to urban community garden outreach, where they meet once a week and proactively reach out to the community. This class would help to incentivize students using volunteering hours and address the schedule system so that students are consistently serving the platform.

Pedal Power will harness the human power provided by the students pedaling on the bikes of the Koret Center at USF. Our cheap setup will generate electricity and save on energy costs and carbon emissions.

Due to many students, faculty and staff experiencing limited parking on campus our team proposes and app idea that will enable students and the rest of USF community to carpool to campus together. Thus eliminating stress and lost time looking for parking. Our app will encourage students to quickly log in and connect with other riders near the area they are located at. Once connected the main driver (student driver) will collect the corresponding amount of money through 
the app then transferred to their pertaining bank accounts to fund gas and time. Similar to Uber and Waze our app will function uniquely for USF community enabling students to register as riders or drivers. Through this idea we can reach our objective of becoming more sustainable when it comes to transporting to campus while at the same time given the opportunity to make extra cash. Our team concludes that this can be a double benefit for USF campus and students as we are looking for ways to become more sustainable with our parking situation. Furthermore we would also like to reach out to the students that commute long distances and connect them through our app that way commuting can become an easier experience

On average our cafeteria goes through 5,000 transactions a day. Many of these transactions are food taken to-go in compostable containers. But are these containers really sustainable? 
 We are proposing to implement a reusable container system to replace the compostable containers. Reusable containers use far less energy and resources over their life cycles in comparison to disposable ones. One-time use compostable containers are not only wasteful from an environmental standpoint, but come with health hazards associated with the production process that harnesses fertilizers and pesticides.  
The cost of buying compostable containers per school year (estimated at $26,000) far outweighs the cost of a one-time purchase of the proposed bento boxes (estimated at $50,000) which have a life span of two to three years.  
Reusable containers given to freshmen students through the GIFT fund will be used to take food from the cafeteria through a checkout system implementing barcode technology. After use, the student will return the container to a station in the cafeteria where it will be checked back in and washed. If the student chooses to take food to-go again, they will be able to check out another container.  
This process would bring awareness to students on the importance of reusing over composting in terms of energy consumption. This practical and cost-effective initiative would be beneficial in reducing USF's carbon footprint to benefit future generations! 
 

The current lighting system in the USF dorms is incredibly wasteful.  
Because students are not personally responsible for the utilities in their room, they have no incentive to conserve lighting energy. This is wasteful to USF’s budget, contributes unnecessarily to USF’s carbon footprint, and teaches students to be irresponsible with resources.  
A simple solution to this problem is to make it impossible for students to leave the lights on when they leave the room.  
A card activated lighting system will accomplish this goal. Students will place their One Card in the cardholder when they enter the room which will allow the lights to be turned on and when they leave they take their card with them, turning off the lights and saving energy.  
This card system is relatively inexpensive to implement and the money saved will pay back the implementation cost within two to eight years. However, before the system pays for itself, it will be funded by a Kickstarter campaign. 
An Outdoor Sustainability Event will take place on campus before the Kickstarter to raise awareness. The Outdoor Sustainability event will take place annually to fund future sustainability projects and continue to raise awareness for the need for sustainability on campus.  
The One Card activated lighting system will save USF thousands of dollars every year while also reducing the college’s carbon footprint. The system is easy and relatively cheap to implement and is convenient to use. 
This system will also teach the students of USF to be more responsible with their resources, a skill they will take beyond USF to become more environmentally conscious throughout their life. 

The University of San Francisco generated over 470 tons of waste in the last fiscal year.  
The Plate team aims to change this problem using two apps. Plate is an application that enables students to share their meal plan (flexi) with other students,  
At USF our designated meal plan is flexi – debit card system – with the caveat that all unused funds vanish at the end of the school year. With the push of a button, these vanishing funds can be put to better use, while also being converted into cash value. Plate introduces really great technologies.  
What makes all of this relevant? We’ve also been working on another feature that integrates into Plate. Throughout the course of the school year, students accumulate a lot of junk. In the cafeteria, there’s always a chart at the garbage cans that tells you what goes where.  
In real life, things aren’t so clean and easy. We wanted to create a solution that was smart, complex, and yet incredibly intuitive. Made even more accessible by its integration with the Plate platform. And we’re calling it waste reduction engine, AKA WRE. Making it easier for you to recycle.  
This is a machine learning model, instead of being a database full of images, this is a brain – specially made to recognize images. Here at Plate, we weren’t satisfied with just implementing one machine learning model, so we implemented 5. Each of these works differently - so in case any of these give you trouble, you have 4 other brains to choose from.  Plate is available on the app store, and WRE is available on GitHub today.   

The goal of Solar Vision is to increase student involvement and hold USF accountable in achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Solar Vision will achieve this in a 3-step plan: create a lucid dashboard to showcase on existing TV panels located within the several buildings on-campus (Lo Schiavo, Kalmanovitz, UC) for students to view; generate a concurrent survey to further interaction among students with the dashboard; and generate revenue through the surveys by placing advertisements on the web page and creating a donate button as well. In addition, the incentive for students to take these surveys would be Dons Dollars for every survey they take. Moreover, for every Dons Dollar a student earns USF will match it and put x-amount of dollars into the solar fund as well. With these steps, Solar Vision will be able to increase awareness among the student body about USF’s solar power and plans and generate revenue to fund these plans.

There are approximately 1,000 dorm rooms at USF (an average of 90 rooms in Pedro Arrupe, an average of 229 rooms in Toler, an average of 83 rooms in Fromm, an average of 167 rooms in Gillson, an average of 167 rooms in Hayes, and an average of 125 rooms in LoMo). According to the website Apartment Ratings, the monthly bill for a one bedroom apartment is typically $73. This means that USF’s monthly electricity bill is approximately $73,000 and that USF’s annual electricity bill is approximately $657,000.   
According to a study performed by the Natural Resources Defense Council regarding Northern California, about a quarter of all residential energy consumption is used on devices in idle power mode. “Idle power mode, or standby power, is defined as electricity used by appliances/equipment while they are switched off or not performing their primary function” (Standby Power- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). Standby power is caused by circuits that continue to be energized when the device is powered “off.” If USF were to conserve the idle power mode energy, we could save $164,250 per year… which means we could be saving $1.6 million over a ten year period.  
Our solution involves a wireless outlet to collect data on the amount of energy being used, as well as a web and mobile application to view one’s personal energy utilization. The hardware device is built from a modified “Kill a Watt” monitor (a device that already can measure energy flow), and an XBee wireless adapter to allow the data collected to be transmitted to a backend database. This gives USF, or any other user, full access to all of the data collected. We envision installing these devices in the dorms at USF. The data collected from the individual rooms would then be displayed so that students could compare their energy usage with each other. This would create social pressure and act as an incentive to practice sustainable habits. 

In the coming century, precipitous climate change will greatly impact global food and freshwater security concerns. In California, recent years of drought exacerbated by depleted water tables caused a loss of 102 million trees. Municipal governments sought to mitigate water consumption, but the agricultural industry went largely unchecked, despite the fact that approximately 80% of 
all freshwater use in the United States goes to agriculture. There is no getting around our need for food, but recent advances have brought about opportunities for a paradigm shift in how we produce food and have yet to be significantly tapped into by California’s behemoth agricultural industry.  
USF, which sources much of its food via Bon Appetit from farms that employ antiquated water management techniques, and which has recently acquired Star Route Farms, now has the opportunity to significantly reduce the water consumption demands of our produce, reduce the distance that food has to travel, and arm students with the skills needed to lead at the forefront of that paradigm shift. Our team proposes USF should leverage its resources at Star Route Farms to implement a medium-scale greenhouse that hosts an aquaponics system capable of using only 12.5% of the water demanded by conventional practices, scaled to produce leafy vegetables and fish to service campus dining facilities’ needs. In addition to reducing USF’s net water usage, these systems placed here would also reduce transportation of all leafy vegetables by 71.5 miles, and afford our urban agriculture students opportunities to study, interact with, and improve upon modern production techniques. 
 USF should also implement a smaller-scale vertical aquaponics system for the production of herbs in one of several on-campus locations identified by our team to demonstrate the feasibility of these systems within the urban landscape, provide local, day-to-day educational opportunities for relevant curricula, and engage students of all programs on sourcing food. With these systems, USF could prepare students to meet the challenges of the future. 

The USF Bike team wants to be able to offer a resource to students that is not currently available. When students want to travel a distance deemed too far to walk, they either take the bus or a Lyft. Most of the time, in both cases, those vehicles are running on fossil fuels, a limited resource. The USF bike team strives to make the campus more bike-friendly in order to promote cleaner transportation.