The University of California today (Oct. 6) launches a systemwide competition to encourage students, faculty and staff to help make its campuses, medical centers and all other UC locations carbon neutral by 2025.

The Cool Campus Challenge, which runs through Dec. 10, asks all members of the UC community to take specific steps to help put the university on the fast track to a more sustainable future.

“We’re on our way to becoming the very first university system to wipe out its carbon footprint for good,” UC President Janet Napolitano said. “It’s a daring goal, and one that will take both individual and collective action to make happen. Part of that is building awareness about easy steps each of us can take to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Each week during the 10-week competition, the Cool Campus Challenge will highlight a theme related to sustainability, including such areas as transportation, lighting and food waste. To earn points for their locations, participants will make pledges and take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions directly or raise awareness about climate change, and then record their actions on the challenge website. Posting photographs is encouraged.

Suggested activities include a number of simple actions such as turning off lights and computer monitors when leaving a room, taking public transportation and composting food waste. Others such as replacing incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs or eliminating single-use items may require a little more effort.

Participants can earn extra points for completing actions within a time limit or for creative actions beyond those listed in the challenge. (Actions already taken also will count toward the challenge.)

At the end of the contest, the campus with the highest point total will be crowned the “Coolest UC Campus.” There also will be rewards and recognition for those campuses that have led throughout the competition.

The campus challenge is modeled on the Cool California Cities Challenge, a competition among cities to motivate and reward residents for reducing their carbon footprints.

Carbon neutrality and sustainability are important priorities at UC. In 2013, President Napolitano announced the Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which commits the university to emitting net zero greenhouse gases from its building and vehicle fleet by 2025.

UC is working hard to improve its energy efficiency, develop new sources of renewable energy and enact a range of strategies to reduce its carbon emissions. On Oct. 26 and 27, the university will host the Summit on Pathways to Carbon and Climate Neutrality, an invitation-only event at UC San Diego focusing on how UC research is transforming the possibilities for climate and carbon mitigation.