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UC San Diego Recognized for Efforts to Keep San Diego Skyline Clean and Clear

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Power generation assets such as solar panels and a fuel cell help generate 92 percent of the electricity used on campus annually and ultimately contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Photo credit: Reed Kaestner

The University of California, San Diego today announced that it has received an APCD-IEA Blue Sky Leadership Award. Created by the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District and the Industrial Environmental Association, the annual awards recognize three companies or organizations that have made positive contributions to the regional environment through innovative projects that reduce air pollution and global warming.

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition,” said Gary C. Matthews, vice chancellor for Resource Management and Planning at UC San Diego. “This award demonstrates our continued dedication to both maintaining a clean environment and utilizing the most advanced technology to ensure a sustainable future.”

UC San Diego was noted for its achievements, which focused on the university’s microgrid power generation assets. These assets generate 92 percent of the electricity used on campus annually and ultimately help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Assets include:

  • Combined Heat and Cogeneration Plant: The plant provides 85 percent of the campus’s annual electricity needs and produces steam for heating, ventilation and air conditioning for the campus. The two gas turbines at the plant use an innovative emission reduction system that produces only 1.5 parts per million of nitrogen oxide, the pollutant that forms smog and acid rain.
  • Fuel Cell: The 2.8 megawatt fuel cell is the largest such cell on any college campus and provides about 8 percent of UC San Diego’s total energy needs, or the equivalent of enough energy to power 2,800 homes. The fuel cell turns waste methane gas from the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant into electricity without combustion.
  • Solar: Solar power comes from 2.3 megawatts of conventional flat panel photovoltaics (rooftop solar) and two sun-tracking, light-concentrating photovoltaic arrays.

The university was also recognized for its use of electric vehicle charging stations. Six stations are currently designated for fleet use while several stations are publicly available with additional public stations to be installed in the future. UC San Diego was also lauded for its air pollution compliance history.

“Over the past nine years we have not received a single notice of violation from the district,” said Garry MacPherson, director of Environment Health & Safety at UC San Diego. “This is quite a feat for a facility of our size and complexity and something of which we are extremely proud.”

The APCD-IEA Blue Sky Leadership Awards were presented during the Industrial Environmental Association’s annual statewide conference in San Diego.