university of california at Santa Cruz

Case Study: UC Santa Cruz

In Blog, case study by Morgan Dix

University of California Santa Cruz – Banishing Bed Bugs

Name: University of California at Santa Cruz

Location: Santa Cruz, CA

Size: 1000 sets

Building Type: Residence Halls

Project Team: DCI, UCSC

Product List: Beds

Summary: UCSC approached DCI to help them with a bedbug problem. We engineered a custom solution that contributed to a major reduction in bed bugs and became part of UCSC’s design standard across campus.


case-study-uc-santa-cruzThe University of California Santa Cruz was founded in 1965 as one of 10 campuses in the University of California System.

Set in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains on the precipice of the Pacific Ocean, this storied member of the public ivy league is home to 16,277 undergrads and 1,589 graduate students.

Renowned for its focus on physics and engineering and its system of residential colleges, UCSC was recently ranked No. 3 by Princeton Review in their Most Beautiful Campus list.

Process & Approach

DCI has been supplying residence hall furniture to UC Santa Cruz for 8 years. In 2012, Housing Facilities reached out to us. They were having a problem with bed bugs.

Bed bugs are a serious problem that residence halls need to deal with swiftly. There are a number of reasons for this. First, bed bugs are parasitic and they feed on human blood just like mosquitos. Furthermore, they can spread quickly and lay hundreds of eggs, each one as tiny as a spec of dust.

Because of their small flat size, like an apple seed, bed bugs can hide in mattresses, bed decks, bed frames, and headboards. Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs aren’t the consequence of a dirty living space. In fact, you’re as likely to find them in an immaculate hotel as you are a dirty one. Residence hall facility managers across the country deal with this issue.

If they aren’t stopped right away, bed bug problems can get expensive. You have to remove all the combustible materials and then heat up the the room to kill the bugs or take all the furniture to a treatment chamber.

When UCSC reached out to us, the bed bugs were a primary concern in their residence halls.

Specifically, they had isolated the wooden bed decks as a major source of the problem. In essence, the small voids in the wood were creating a space for the bed bugs to burrow and lay their eggs. Consequently, they were considering getting rid of the wooden beds.

We needed to engineer a solution. We took the problem back to our factory and hit on a novel idea. We would fully sand, finish, and seal every plane on the bed deck. A typical bed has three bed decks, and we applied this treatment to each one.

In short, we banded the edges of the plywood–all 4 sides–with thin strips of finished wood. This edge treatment creates a perfectly smooth edge, with no voids, by gluing thin pieces of finished wood to the sides.

Our goal was to halt the infestation. Our concept was that this solution would eliminate the option for the bed bugs to lay their eggs anywhere in the bed deck.


In December 2015 we met up with the UCSC Facilities team, and they were ecstatic about the results of our solution.

First, our design solution contributed to a major reduction in the bed bugs after we retrofitted a number of their beds.

Second, the solution was so successful that UCSC has integrated it into the design standard for the entire campus.

We now include this innovation continuously with every new order. As of 2016, we just received another order for 378 beds which will include the special bed bug resistant design.


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(UCSC Photos via CC: Porter CollegeCowell CollegeBridgeQuarry PlazaLibrary)