UC’s Dedication to Environment Sprouts Nationwide Recognition


Cheyenne Johnson
Staff Writer

Illustration by Irene Wang

The University of California was among 10 academic institutions chosen to receive the Climate Leadership Award in response to its dedication to environmental sustainability and campus-wide projects that protect the environment.

The Climate Leadership Award highlights campus innovation and climate leadership in an attempt to move society towards a cleaner, more sustainable future. Other nominees included New York University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Arizona State University.

The award was given to the University of California system as a whole and required the involvement of all UCs in eco-friendly projects. This award stems from the Policy on Sustainable Practices, which was implemented in 2004. The Policy moved the UC towards environmental sustainability and includes a pledge that by 2020 reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels, purchase 20 percent sustainable food, and achieve zero waste.

On the University of California Santa Barbara campus 35 different student organizations work on sustainability projects and protecting the environment. These include the Associated Students Environmental Affairs Board, AS Recycling, the Green Initiative Fund and the Isla Vista Surfrider Founder.

The Greenhouse and Garden Project contributed to the UCs nomination by supporting local and homegrown fruits and vegetables.

“I think we’re pretty much the definition of an eco-friendly project,” said Seth Peterson, garden manager for the UCSB Community Garden. “People get to work outside and grow some of their food.”

Environmental projects run throughout the school and many students encourage environmental sustainability without realizing it. According to UCSB Sustainability and the Green Initiative Fund, “86 percent of students use alternative transportation to get to campus” and “40 percent of UCSB’s food budget purchases local or organic food.” The campus boasts 37 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design buildings and plans to have 12 electric vehicle charging stations installed in 2012.

Groups and organizations throughout the UC campuses are also moving the schools and society towards more environmentally friendly projects. David Woodruff is the Director of Sustainability Solutions Institute at University of California San Diego.

“You have a curious group of people at UCSD, but perhaps that speaks to how campus-wide our commitment to sustainability is becoming,” said Woodruff. “Climate leadership at UCSD includes basic climate research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography… research on the economics and politics of climate change… studies of international law… and retrofitting buildings with energy saving ideas. Our scientists wrote most of the California Climate Action Plan.”

Other UCs are involved in similar projects. University of California Los Angeles recently installed over 600,000 energy efficient bulbs and University of California Berkeley boasts an 84 percent non-drive alone rate as students, faculty, and staff carpool to and from the campus.

Nathan Brostrom, UC’s executive vice-president for business operations, praised the UCs for their dedication to environmental sustainability.

“UC is committed to being a sustainability leader and will continue to seek innovative solutions for reducing energy use and cutting greenhouse gas emissions on our campuses,” said Brostrom. “The Climate Leadership Award is a testament to the hard work of our students, staff and faculty, who are making UC the greenest university in the country.”