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President Napolitano lays out vision for climate advisory council

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Every building on the UC Merced campus is LEED certified, making Merced the nation’s only campus with that level of green construction. Elena Zhukova photo

An advisory group formed by UC President Janet Napolitano to guide the university’s sustainability efforts met for the first time on June 9 to discuss how UC can become the first research university to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

The Global Climate Leadership Council — comprising scientists, administrators, students and experts from inside and outside UC — heard from Napolitano about her vision for the university’s future sustainability work and the role the council will play.

Napolitano called on the council to find ways to engage faculty, staff and students — leveraging the power of UC’s 10 campuses — to help the university reach its sustainability goals and serve as a “lodestar, a place that can really set an example.”

“It is essential to our stewardship of the environment and to what we hand off to the next generation,” Napolitano said. “If we don’t do it, who will?”

The council committed to meeting three times each year at different UC campuses. Members will focus on carbon neutrality, but will also offer guidance on UC’s other sustainability goals.

Achieving carbon neutrality is a difficult but attainable goal, council members said. To succeed, UC must expand its energy efficiency efforts and explore large-scale energy procurement from renewable sources such as solar, wind and biomethane gas captured from landfills and agricultural waste.

“There is really nothing like an audacious goal to make everyone work together,” said Wendell Brase, UC Irvine’s vice chancellor for administration and co-chair of the council.

Napolitano noted at the meeting that UC already is a national leader when it comes to sustainability. She suggested finding ways to pair UC’s successes in sustainable operations with cutting-edge research done at the campuses on renewable energy and other technology to reduce carbon emissions.

For more, see Communication Coordinator Harry Mok’s full story, which includes related links and stories.

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