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UC San Diego Wins
National Climate Leadership Award

October 14, 2010

By Rex Graham

Photo MAF
UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox

UC San Diego received the 1st Annual Climate Leadership Award for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership on Oct. 12 at the 4th Annual American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Summit in Denver, Colo.

“The University of California, San Diego, as a major research institution, is an exemplary model in developing climate solutions,” said Anthony Cortese, president of Second Nature, a nonprofit corporation that is the primary supporting organization of the ACUPCC. “Both in its operations and curriculum, UCSD is preparing its graduates to create a low-carbon and sustainable society.”

In partnership with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and ecoAmerica, Second Nature promotes climate action by encouraging and supporting higher education institutions to model ways to eliminate global warming emissions, and to provide the knowledge and the educated graduates to achieve climate neutrality through the ACUPCC.

The Climate Leadership Award recognizes UC San Diego’s aggressive campaign to meet the goals of its climate action plan, which calls for the campus to be climate neutral by 2025, achieve a 4-percent annual reduction in water use and be a zero-waste campus by 2020. The award also notes the profound influence of the university’s green roots, which date back to 1957, when Scripps Institution of Oceanography Director Roger Revelle warned that greenhouse gases from industrialization could endanger the planet. Later, Scripps chemist Charles Keeling was the first to precisely measure atmospheric carbon dioxide, and his Keeling Curve has since become “the most important geophysical measurement of the 20th century.”

Photo Enviro minors
The course "Wilderness and Human Values," inspired by naturalist John Muir, and teaches UC San Diego students minoring in Environmental Studies the meaning of wilderness and nature today.

UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox tapped into the university’s environmental heritage six years ago when she and the university’s vice chancellors made sustainability a top educational priority and goal of all campus operations.

Since then, the campus has been transformed. From economics to mechanical engineering, academic departments have incorporated sustainability concepts into dozens of classes. Faculty research is increasingly focused on energy efficiency, alternative fuels and photovoltaic technology. And UC San Diego faculty also helped launch CleanTECH San Diego, ranked seventh in the world on the Sustainable World Capital’s list of global cleantech organization leaders.

“Over the last five decades, we have built on the pioneering research of Revelle and Keeling, and UC San Diego has become a nationally recognized living laboratory for climate change research and solutions,” said Fox. “As a campus, we’re moving from energy conservation to energy independence and we think this Climate Leadership Award is another affirmation that our campus is a sustainability model for the world.”

The Climate Leadership Award recognized the recent role played by four engineering students who played a critical technical role in helping the university and the region in 2009 secure $154 million in federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds allocations for solar projects.

Students across the spectrum of UC San Diego’s schools and departments are drawn to fields that stress environmental sustainability. From energy economics and sustainable building designs to water conservation and biofuels made from algae, sharply higher numbers of undergraduates are opting for majors and minors, classes, internships and research projects that emphasize environmental sustainability.

”UC San Diego practices what it teaches in virtually all of its campus operations,” said Gary C. Matthews, vice chancellor of Resource Management and Planning. “Aside from the accomplishments we’ve made as a campus to lower our energy usage and switch to renewable-energy sources, another payoff for the community is the quality of our graduates who are entering the workforce with tools needed to help their employers create a sustainable economy.”

This year, UC San Diego has been named one of the seven greenest campuses in the country by Greenopia, all seven receiving the organization’s highest honor: a score of four out of four leaves. The Greenopia ranking was based on green building design, waste program, food selection, campus vehicle fleet, water conservation measures, climate performance, renewable energy usage, and the overall environmental transparency of the school.

In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave UC San Diego a 2010 Energy Star CHP Award for its high efficiency, low-emission combined heat and power (CHP) plant that provides 85 percent of the campus’ annual electricity needs.


Media Contact: Rex Graham, 858-534-5952, ragraham@ucsd.edu

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