2019 Campus Sustainability Summit Recap

Image of the BIOEnvironmental Engineering Lab receiving a sustainability award.
The BioEnvironmental Engineering (BEE) lab, headed by Professor Ruihong Zhang in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering won the award for the highest achieving campus lab team in the Cool Campus Challenge. The lab was presented the award by Camille Kirk, director of the Office of Sustainability and Sue Vang, engagement and zero waste program manager at the 2019 UC Davis Sustainability Summit.
Image of Camille Kirk, director of the UC Davis Office of Sustainability, speaking at the 2019 Sustainability Summit.
Director of the Office of Sustainability and Campus Sustainability Planner Camille Kirk speaks to attendees of the 2019 Campus Sustainability Summit. At this event, attendees learned more about the programs and projects that make UC Davis a nationwide leader in sustainability and members of the campus community were awarded for their achievements in sustainability.

Content excerpted from information presented at the 2019 Campus Sustainability Summit.

On May 31, 2019 the Office of Sustainability, led by Camille Kirk, director and campus sustainability planner, hosted the 2019 Campus Sustainability Summit, an inaugural event to honor the achievements of the university, award those in this community who contribute to our campus's sustainability goals and provide student programs an opportunity to present their accomplishments over the year.

Named the most sustainable university in the nation according to the University of Indonesia's GreenMetric World University Rankings — an international higher education sustainability ranking — UC Davis continuously sets the standard in green energy, sustainability education, student involvement and more. UC Davis takes pride in its dedication to environmental stewardship and its mission to create a sustainable future for generations to come. 

Learn more about what makes UC Davis a leader in sustainability. Toggle the boxes below, download the 2019 Sustainability Summit presentation file and scroll through the photo gallery to learn more about a few of the students, faculty and staff who contribute.

Category

Steps to Sustainability Since 2008

Green House Gases (GHG). Reduced our greenhouse gas emissions 32 percent from 2008 to 2017, from 293,673 metric tons of GHG to 163,138 metric tons.

Green Buildings. Attained 9 Platinum, 17 Gold, 4 Silver, and 1 Certified Level US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED certifications.

Green power. Installed over 17 megawatts of on-site solar photovoltaic arrays, and producing renewable energy used right here on campus; and invested in another 80 megawatts of off-site solar with some of our sister UC campuses –green electricity is now 57 percent of our total electricity use.

Green waste. Built a biodigester on campus which helps us turn some of our food waste into biogas

Energy savings. Saved at least 2.3 million therms of natural gas, and 44.8 million kilowatts of electricity through energy efficiency and conservation projects and programs

Sustainable transportation. Created goClub to promote and reward sustainable transportation like bicycling, walking, skateboarding, carpooling, vanpooling, taking the bus to campus. And we measure our campus community’s use of sustainable transportation through an annual travel survey that is a partnership between our Transportation Services and our Institute of Transportation Studies.

Waste diversion.

  • Diverted an average of 72% of materials from the landfill annually by figuring out how to wash and reuse gravel from one of our research facilities.
  • Opened the first zero-waste college stadium. 
  • Brought composting to the CoHo and the Silo.

Water savings. Reduced our water use during the recent drought by 27 percent and have managed to keep the similar levels since.

Sustainability education. Between 2012 and 2014, taught at least 534 classes that had sustainability content, including project-based learning classes.

Student engagement. We have at least 36 student clubs and RSOs focused on environmental and sustainability topics

Faculty research. Over the past three years, faculty have won at least $130 million in grants for sustainability related research and have published at least 1,809 articles on environmental or sustainability related research.

Nitrogen footprint. We are the first UC campus to measure our nitrogen footprint and the Office of Sustainability is now starting work on our third annual nitrogen inventory; students in the SEEDS club conducted the first two footprints.

2018-19 Achievements in Sustainability

Zero-net energy housing. The next phase of West Village broke ground and is under construction now – we’ve used lessons learned from the first building phase to help this phase achieve zero-net energy, in addition this project adds to the housing in Davis, helping students and our local community.

Green house gas inventory. While our campus is still in the process of completing our 2018 Green House Gas (GHG) inventory, another meaningful reduction is predicted.

Reducing future carbon offsets. Our campus's Climate Action Plan model update found a portfolio of direct action solutions that don’t rely indefinitely on carbon offsets, while also achieving more resilience and renewing our infrastructure for our next several decades. One of the modeled actions, which recently gained leadership support, includes a large-scale project to convert our old, inefficient steam district heating system to a heating hot water system, which will save water, reduce our use of natural gas, and improve our greenhouse gas footprint.

Climate change research findings. Many UC Davis faculty, led by Ben Houlton, director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment, produced the Sacramento Valley Regional Climate Assessment as part of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. We learned from this work that our region will have a climate more like that of Phoenix, Arizona by the end of the century, which gives us all even more motivation to take on climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.

Nitrogen footprint reporting. The Office of Sustainability officially adopted responsibility for producing the annual nitrogen footprint with the support of the student group, SEEDS, who’ve been producing the nitrogen footprint; this will help make data collection and analysis more efficient and enable SEEDS to focus on projects related to the results of our nitrogen footprint

Electric bikes and cars. Thanks to a partnership with others in our region, Jump Bikes (electric assist bikes) are now available on campus. UC Davis is also partnering with BMW to test out their electric vehicles in our rental fleet.

Sustainable transportation planning. The campus's sustainable transportation roadmap, which aims to help our campus community reduce its single-occupancy vehicle use, will be finalized in the next couple of weeks. Elements of this plan are already being initiated at our UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento. In addition, We are working with our local and regional communities on a project to electrify buses running between Davis and Sacramento

Sustainable food. The MU CoffeeHouse bought 21 percent sustainable food, Dining Services bought 35 percent sustainable food and the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento increasing their sustainable food procurement to  21 percent while managing to win a James Beard award for serving healthy and tasty meals to the hospital.

Sustainable purchasing. Supply Chain Management doubled down on its sustainable purchasing efforts by including sustainability metrics and input fro the Office of Sustainability in purchasing contracts, helped spread awareness about sustainable purchasing options and worked with lab materials suppliers to offer green options.

Recycling.

  • The Office of Sustainability received a CalRecycle grant in March 2019 for nearly half a million dollars ($476,000) to improve our zero-waste infrastructure with a new campus recycling truck, outdoor recycling bins and recycling toters. The grant will be implemented over the course of the next few years. The Office of Sustainability also won a $4,000 grant for a student intern to work on our green labs plan and program.
  • The UC Davis Preferred Partnership Program worked with Pepsi Beverages Company and the Office of Sustainability to help develop a co-branded recycling awareness project. 
  • New waste signage for our landfill, recycle, and compost streams was created to provide easier-to-understand information. The signs were first deployed at Picnic Day and the Thank Goodness for Staff event, and will soon start to appear across campus.

2018-19 Sustainability Engagement

Please note: sustainability engagement efforts abound on this campus; this list is not complete.

Cool Campus Challenge. The Cool Campus Challenge kicked off at the beginning of this quarter and engaged the entire campus population on how individual actions can help reduce our carbon footprints. Our students, staff, and faculty took a combined 15,000 actions that resulted in the reduction of 1.8 million pounds of CO2, and UC Davis finished in the top 6 campuses and the UC Davis Health System came in second of all the UC Health campuses.

Carbon Neutrality Fellows. Our Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellows planned two days of tree plantings along the eastern border of campus and a series of sustainability-themed urban sketch crawls in April, wrote an Op-Ed in the Aggie and moderated a panel of experts at the 5th annual One Health Symposium.

Sustainability Outreach. The Office of Sustainability continued to focus on helping people know how to take action for sustainability, including tabling throughout the year at the campus Farmers Market, New Employee Orientation, TGFS, and other campus events.

  • The Office of Sustainability tabled throughout the year, including at New Employee Orientations, with Aggie Green Pledge, and moved it into an electronic format to improve the participant experience.
  • The Office of Sustainability contacted labs with minus 80 Celsius (really cold) freezers to engage them in the International Freezer Challenge, which aims to improve both energy and research efficiency by encouraging labs to clean their freezers and better manage their samples.
  • The Energy Conservation Office continued to spread awareness about their tools, including the Campus Energy Education Dashboard (where anyone can view real-time information about building energy use) and their award-winning Thermoostat (a web app that provides students, faculty and staff  a way to share how they feel about the temperature of a room). Their office uses this information to help identify rooms and buildings that need tune-ups.
  • Student Housing and Dining Services ran their annual energy and water challenge, and tried out something really interesting – in a pilot area, they installed shower heads that light up in different colors the longer you are in the shower to give you a visual clue about your water use. The program was successful in reducing water use and they are now developing how to spread this program throughout Housing.
  • The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden's Leading by Learning™ program has grown and now has about 120 students who lead environmental education and restoration projects both on campus and off.  

Sustainability at UC Davis Health. UC Davis Health appointed a director of sustainability, Colleen McCormick, who has brought fresh energy to the Sacramento campus and a spirit of collaboration. 

2019 Cool Campus Challenge Award Winners

Following UC Davis' involvement in the Cool Campus Challenge, a UC-wide friendly competition to reduce the University of California's carbon footprint and promote a culture of sustainability across all campuses, the Office of Sustainability created their own awards for the challenge. 

Top ASUCD Unit: CoHo Cool Beans

Top Registered Student Organization: The Climate Reality Project

Top Campus Lab: UC Davis BEE Lab

Top Overall Team: Admin IT

Top Team (Res Hall): Madrone in the Zone 

Top Individual Scorers: Emily Dong (lab user) and Arishneel Ram (non-lab user)