Sunday, April 22

UCLA unveils sustainability goal as part of Grand Challenge Initiative

UCLA announced a new goal Friday to have the city of Los Angeles use exclusively renewable sources of energy and local water resources by 2050.

The project, called “Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles,” is the first in a series of six “grand challenges” UCLA plans to announce over the next five years as part of the UCLA Grand Challenge Initiative. The goals seek to promote research that involves cooperation among different disciplines, universities, corporations, foundations and the local and federal government.

The challenge’s officials hope to raise $150 million in funding, said Michelle Popowitz, executive director for the UCLA Grand Challenge Initiative.

“We face (a) major sustainability issue,” said Chancellor Gene Block in a speech he made at the event. “Population growth will place (an) unsustainable need in (resources).”

The first challenge was chosen because more than 85 percent of Los Angeles’ water comes from other regions, an issue that Block said needs to be addressed.

About 20 faculty members are already working toward the renewable energy goal, said Mark Gold, associate director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and one of the directors of the challenge.

While conducting the research should not take more than 10 years, implementing the recommendations may take up to  25 years, Gold said.

Alex Hall, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and one of co-leaders of the challenge, said one of their short-term goals is to make a blueprint for the change by 2019.

UCLA held many events throughout the week leading up to the announcement. Powell Library and Royce Hall were lit up in green at night with environmentally friendly LED bulbs. A competition was announced Wednesday for students to submit visual representations of their solutions to climate change. More details about the competition will be available in December.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research will hold an information session on Wednesday to provide further information regarding the challenge.

The next challenge – the Brain Initiative – will  be announced in summer 2014, Popowitz said.

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