Thursday, January 23, 2014

UC President Napalitano's UC sustainability initiatives

President Napalitano has announced two new UC-wide sustainability goals of net zero energy by 2025 and a 20% cut in water use by 2020.

Napalitano has announced an energy and climate initiative for the University of California system to become carbon neutral by 2025.

The initiative outlines four efforts to achieve this goal: wholesale electricity, campus energy efficiency and renewable energy, natural gas and biogas procurement, and management of environmental attributes.

One highlight of this initiative is the creation of a shared service center to manage the supply of wholesale electricity to the five campuses currently eligible for direct access. This center will also own generation resources, provide the University the flexibility to invest in and develop alternative energy sources or to purchase such power through long-term contracts.

In addition, there will be increased efforts to expand funding sources available to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Regarding procurement of natural gas, the University will develop renewable natural gas, commonly referred to as biogas, through both direct development of biogas projects as well as the purchase of biogas contracts through outside producers.

A final highlight is that as environmental attribute programs like California's cap and trade program generate funds to be used for projects resulting in the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the University will actively solicit funds to support our initiatives.

To learn more about the carbon neutrality initiative, please read the full document here.

In addition to energy goals, President Napalitano also announced on January 16 a goal of reducing per capita water use by 20 percent throughout the UC system by the year 2020.

As California experiences some of its driest weather on record, Napolitano said the university must step up and contribute to the preservation of the state's most precious resource.

"The University of California has long been a leader in conservation efforts," she said. "This new 2020 goal complements the university's Carbon Neutrality Initiative and its broader award-winning sustainability efforts. UC is prepared to play a leadership role in response to California's current water crisis by demonstrating water sustainability solutions to the rest of the state."

Every UC campus already has established its water usage baseline against a three-year average, and the 20 percent reduction goal will be pegged to each campus's baseline. UC Santa Cruz has been effective at reducing water consumption in recent years. The UCSC Campus Sustainability Plan for 2013-16 states that "Water use on the main campus has steadily declined by 21% since 2005, despite an overall increase in student enrollment" (p. 20). As a campus community, we'll need to find innovative ways to continue to reduce water consumption, such as behavior change campaigns and wider awareness of our local water concerns.

"The 2020 goal builds on the groundbreaking water-related research that takes place on our campuses every day," Napolitano said. "These efforts are critical to addressing the formidable water, energy and climate challenges facing California, the nation and the world."

The policy was discussed at a recent UC Board of Regents in San Francisco as part of the presentation of the Annual Report on Sustainable Practices. The report may be accessed here. If you'd like to watch a video of the presentation and Q&A from this Board of Regents meeting, click here and begin at 02:35:00.

This post is an updated version of the UC News Room press release here.

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