Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, April 2017

Highlights of the 2016 UC Sustainability Report

The University of California has challenged itself to become carbon neutral by 2025. UC is attacking this goal on multiple fronts: research, nurturing the next generation of leaders, changing how it operates and serving as a model for positive change. An exciting highlight from the 2016 UC Sustainability Report is that the first of two solar farms came online in the Central Valley, totaling 80 megawatts, part of the largest solar purchase ever made by a U.S. university. In addition, 228 UC faculty across the whole system attended climate change and sustainability curriculum workshops and committed to integrating climate and sustainability concepts into existing courses. “I think that was one of the things I was most inspired by, that these classes could potentially reach more than 11,000 students per year,” said Matt St. Clair, Sustainability Director, UC Office of the President.

These are just a few examples from the new report. You can learn more about UC’s progress and the challenges ahead in the new 2016 Annual Report on Sustainable Practices.

The 2016 report  highlights the progress UC has made over the past year in renewable energy, water conservation, waste reduction, food sustainability and other areas. Along with successes, the report lays out the remaining challenges ahead as UC pushes to reach carbon neutrality as well as its other sustainability goals by 2025. “We’re attacking this challenge on multiple fronts — undertaking basic and applied research, teaching, changing the way we operate, investing in climate change solutions, and being a model of positive change,” said UC President Janet Napolitano.

UC Sustainability Highlights
Highlights from the 2016 Annual Report on Sustainable Practices include:

  • Waste. In 2015-2016, 69 percent of waste was diverted from landfills. UC sends 198 pounds per person to landfills per year, 26 percent less than other comparable universities.
  • Renewable energy. The first of two solar farms came online in the Central Valley, totaling 80 megawatts, part of the largest solar purchase ever made by a U.S. university. More than 36 megawatts of on-site solar energy is currently installed systemwide.
  • Sustainable investments. UC is ranked first among university investment funds and 17th among all worldwide investment funds in addressing climate change by the nonprofit Asset Owners Disclosure Project.
  • Carbon neutrality. UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and UCLA have already exceeded the goal of reaching 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020. To help campuses reach the 2025 goal of carbon neutrality, the UC Office of the President developed a Strategic Planning Framework, which will serve as a roadmap.
  • Food sustainability. Over 20 percent of UC food purchases from 2015-2016 were sourced from sustainable products. 7 of the 10 campuses and 5 medical centers have certified at least one food service facility as a green business.
  • Water use. Four out of 10 campuses already meet or exceed the 2025 goal to reduce per capita water use by 36 percent. In total, campuses saved enough potable water in 2016 to fill 647 Olympic-size swimming pools.
  • Efficiency. Across the university, more than 1,000 projects have registered with the Energy Efficiency Partnership program, receiving $82 million in incentive payments and avoiding $28 million in annual energy costs. In 2016 alone, 45 UC projects participated in these programs, earning $4.4 million in incentives. Those projects are projected to avoid $550,000 annually in utility bill costs due to their energy-efficient design strategies.