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UC sustainable practices save $91 million and counting

The University of California has saved $91 million in energy costs since 2004, and it expects even greater dividends ahead as it ramps up its sustainable practices. UC anticipates saving $37 million more this year from its energy efficiency investments, including $5 million from projects that came on line last year.

Nathan Brostrom, UC executive vice president for business operations, reported those energy savings and other achievements to the Board of Regents on Jan. 16 when he presented the 2012 Annual Report on Sustainable Practices.

“This annual report demonstrates the breadth and depth of UC’s sustainability commitment and accomplishments,” Brostrom said. “The cost avoidance we’ve achieved on energy use shows that sustainability and administrative efficiency go hand in hand.”

UC campuses are serving as living laboratories for innovative technologies that contribute to energy savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, UC Davis is installing efficient lighting systems designed by its California Lighting Technology Center that will help cut electricity use from lighting by 60 percent by 2020.

Other key successes in 2012 for UC include:

  • Reaching a goal to generate 10 megawatts of power from renewable sources — enough to power about 3,500 homes — two years ahead of schedule.
  • Receiving its 100th LEED certification for green building, making UC the first university to hit that milestone. It earned 32 certifications in 2012 for a total of 119.

UC maintained its leadership in green building by adding 32 new LEED certifications during 2012 and now has 119, the most for any university. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the industry standard third-party certification program created by the U.S. Green Building Council that rates environmental impact and performance in such areas as location and planning, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

UC’s Policy on Sustainable Practices guides campuses in nine areas: green building, clean energy, sustainable transportation, climate protection, sustainable operations, waste reduction and recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing, sustainable food service and sustainable water systems.

UC’s power bill goes up each year due to growth and rising energy costs. But it is working to find ways to reduce and avoid costs as much as possible, a goal that aligns with sustainability efforts.

See the UC Newsroom for Principal Editor Harry Mok’s full story and links to campus projects.

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