The University of California (UC) system, which includes 10 campuses and more than 238,000 students, has announced an expansion of its sustainability goals, including a 100% clean energy commitment by 2025.
UC will aim for a 100% reliance on clean electricity supplies across its campuses and medical centers by 2025, which dovetails with the university’s prior pledge to become operationally carbon neutral by that same year. UC says it has already saved $220 million with its energy efficiency programs and continues to leverage the benefits of its solar farm in Fresno, representing the largest solar purchase of any university in the U.S., UC claims.
“From LED lighting to all-electric fleets, we are proud of the countless energy efficiency and clean energy actions we have taken to tackle climate change,” says David Phillips, UC’s associate vice president of energy and sustainability. “These ambitious new targets, which align with those of our student environmental leaders, will ensure that our electricity comes from clean sources, extending UC leadership in modeling sustainability solutions.”
UC’s new goals include as follows:
- Clean energy: In addition to its 100% clean energy commitment by 2025, UC will aim to reduce its energy-use intensity (energy per square foot per year) by 2% year-over-year through more efficient measures.
- UC Health: Mirroring standards long in place for campus buildings, new acute care facilities must now meet energy efficiency requirements based on industry-leading benchmarks.
- Green buildings: No new UC buildings or major renovations after June 2019, except in special circumstances, will use on-site fossil fuel combustion, such as natural gas, for space and water heating.
- Sustainable procurement: UC will use its market power to drive the availability of more sustainable products and services. Examples of new goals include 25% green spend and 25% economically and socially responsible spend.
- Zero waste: Complementing the existing 2020 zero-waste goal to divert waste from landfills, a new policy sets waste-reduction goals for each campus. Each campus will reduce municipal solid waste 25% by 2025 and 50% by 2030. UC has banned expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) in takeout containers and, by 2020, will prohibit its use outside of specialized laboratory or medical settings.
“Today, I’m so proud to be a UC student – proud of UC for taking this visionary action and proud of my fellow students for working together to push for a future powered by clean energy,” says Sophie Haddad, chair of student organization CALPIRG. “Our generation will be the ones experiencing the severe impacts of climate change; that’s why thousands of students signed on to our campaign and are supporting the university’s landmark commitment.”