By Harry Mok
|Karin Higgins/UC Davis
|Wines are stored in the barrel room of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science processing facility at UC Davis. The facility has been certified LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council.
University of California campuses increased their number of LEED green-certified building projects during 2010 from 33 to 50, which remain the most of any university in the country.
The green buildings contributed to UC's energy cost savings, which increased from $15 million to $21 million last year due to efficiency initiatives on all campuses.
"Our leadership in sustainability not only saves the university money, it creates a cleaner, greener environment for our campuses and the communities we serve," said Nathan Brostrom, UC's executive vice president for business operations. "Sustainability is an integral part of the University of California's public service commitment."
These energy-efficiency milestones are highlighted in the UC annual sustainability report which Brostrom and Patrick Lenz, UC's vice president for budget and capital resources, will present to the Board of Regents at its Jan. 18 meeting at UC San Diego. The annual report is called for in the systemwide sustainability policy, which has made UC one of the greenest universities in the country since being enacted in 2003.
The Sierra Club and other organizations routinely give high marks to UC for its commitment to sustainable operations. UC campuses, staff members and students earned numerous awards in 2010, including a Millennium Award given by the environmental group Global Green USA to the UC system for its leadership in LEED building practices.
UC LEED-certified projects comply with a verification system that measures construction methods that lead to energy savings, water conservation, carbon emissions reduction and other environmentally friendly practices
The savings on energy at UC come primarily from an Energy Efficiency Partnership program begun in 2004 with the California State University system and the state's four investor-owned utilities. The program has funded retrofits to energy efficient lighting and installation of monitoring systems that track a building's energy use and maximize its efficiency. For example, the monitoring system can detect if heating and cooling systems are on at the same time.
UC is saving more than $21 million annually compared to what it otherwise would pay the utilities, and the goal is to reach $36 million in savings.
Other highlights from the 2010 sustainability report included:
- All 10 campuses met the goal of diverting at least 50 percent of municipal waste from being sent to landfills, and five campuses already have achieved a 70 percent diversion rate. However, a large proportion of waste diversion comes from construction and demolition waste, which varies every year.
- UC Davis took first place in the national Environmental Protection Agency Game Day Challenge, diverting nearly 90 percent of the waste at its football stadium on the day of the challenge in October. (Ohio State was second at 68 percent.) Everything sold in the Davis stadium can be recycled or composted.
- UC Santa Barbara has now earned LEED for Existing Buildings certification on five buildings, with plans to certify 21 more in the next 18 months.
- To reduce diesel emissions, the San Diego campus installed diesel particulate filters on 27 vehicles, reducing particulate emissions by 86 percent.
- A national publication, Hands-On LEED: Guiding College Student Engagement, featured the San Diego campus as the model for student internships; the Berkeley campus is profiled as the model for coordinating student volunteers to make building operations more sustainable.
- UC San Diego signed one of the strongest fair trade policies of any university in the nation. The policy makes a commitment to only purchase coffee, tea and sugar products that are fair-trade certified and support sustainable business practices, humane working conditions and prohibit the use of child labor.
- More than 23 percent of the purchases administered through systemwide contracts met one or more environmentally preferable purchasing standards, such as using paper products made from recycled content.
- All five UC medical centers completed feasibility studies on sustainable foodservice practices and have committed to meeting the same policy requirements as campus dining services, which include goals for waste reduction and increased use of sustainable or organic food products.
In 2011 and beyond, UC plans to explore adding guidelines for water conservation and storm water management to the system's sustainability policy, work with UC medical centers to implement foodservice guidelines and encourage communication between campuses to share best practices.