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UC leads academic institutions in green building standards

UC is saving $32 million a year on energy and remains the leader in higher education for adopting green building standards.

Those achievements and others were outlined in the 2011 UC Annual Report on Sustainable Practices at the Board of Regents meeting at UC Riverside on Jan. 18.

The UC system added 38 LEED-green certified facilities during 2011 and now has 87, which continues to be the most of any university in the country, according to the annual report.

Much of UC’s $32 million in annual savings in energy use, up from $21 million in 2010, comes from participation in an Energy Efficiency Partnership with the California State University, California Community Colleges and the state’s investor-owned utility companies.

Since the partnership’s inception in 2004, UC has received $47.5 million in grants, which it coupled with more than $150 million in campus contributions and some external financing to fund energy efficiency projects. The projects include retrofitting lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to be more energy efficient.

“Energy efficiency is a cornerstone of UC’s sustainability efforts,” said Nathan Brostrom, UC’s vice president for business operations, who presented the annual report to the regents. “Going green is the smart thing to do. These projects reduce energy use and cut costs while improving the comfort, health and safety of UC facilities.”

UC’s energy conservation efforts are among the key UC Working Smarter administrative efficiency initiatives.

The energy reductions achieved have kept roughly 168,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases from being released, equal to approximately 10 percent of UC’s 2010 carbon footprint.

UC’s Policy on Sustainable Practices guides campuses in the areas of green building, clean energy, sustainable transportation, climate protection, sustainable operations, waste reduction and recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing and sustainable food service. In 2012, UC is studying the possibility of adding water conservation and storm water management as a ninth area of coverage for its sustainability policy.

Even as more colleges and universities embrace sustainability, UC continues to be recognized as a national leader. In 2011, UC campuses and facilities received 12 national and state awards and continue to be recognized in the top tiers of national campus sustainability rankings. UC also has received national media acclaim in publications such as New York Times, Forbes, and in television and radio news broadcasts.

See the complete story by Harry Mok, principal editor in the UCOP Integrated Communications group, on the UC Newsroom website.

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