UC San Diego Releases First Sustainability Report During Earth Month

UC San Diego’s first annual sustainability report highlights the campus’ progress toward sustainability goals in ten key areas. Photo credit: Rhett S. Miller.

Sustainability is an integral part of UC San Diego’s education, research, and campus operations.

Fittingly, UC San Diego released its first annual sustainability report during Earth Month, providing an update on campus progress in 2020-21 toward sustainability goals in ten key areas: air and climate, clean energy, engagement, eco-friendly purchasing, food and catering, green buildings, sustainable landscapes, transport and fleet services, water conservation and zero waste. While the report focuses on innovative and leading sustainable practices for campus operations, it also recognizes solutions that help address important global challenges as diverse as climate protection, food adequacy and conservation of resources.

solar panels on campus.

Sustainability is an integral part of UC San Diego’s education, research, and campus operations. Photo by Erik Jepsen/University Communications.

“UC San Diego has a long-standing commitment to climate change research, education, innovative sustainability practices, and real-world climate action with civic and community partners,” said the Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “I am proud of the extraordinary efforts of UC San Diego faculty, staff, and students highlighted in the inaugural sustainability report.”

The sustainability report shows how, throughout a difficult year, the university has remained focused on building a more sustainable future. Key achievements highlighted in the report include:

  • The university has mobilized public funds to expand the campus’ electric vehicle charging infrastructure. With 300 ports serving commuters and the public, our campus has become the largest multi-purpose electric vehicle charging center in San Diego County, serving more than 5,500 unique drivers.
  • Housing*Dining*Hospitality launched the Triton2Go mobile ordering app and reusable container program, which in its first eight months replaced the use of over 250,000 disposable containers.
  • In 2020, UC San Diego reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25%, or more than 70,000 MTCO2e, as of 2019, which is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from approximately 16,000 passenger vehicles driven for one year.
  • In July 2020, the Green Labs team at UC San Diego certified Jan Kleissl’s lab to achieve a Step of 100 certified laboratories.
  • In November 2020, the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) ranked UC San Diego as the top performer in sustainability-related research. This includes everything from exploring honey bee immunity to advancing electric vehicle charging to studying ocean currents.
  • The campus microgrid responded to Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaration of a state of emergency during the extreme Labor Day heat wave, exporting power for nine of the SDG&E grid’s most vulnerable hours to help avoid regional power outages for public safety.
  • UC San Diego has received $39 million from the National Science Foundation to build a world-class research platform with the goal of decarbonizing the power grid, protecting it from cybersecurity attacks, and making it more resilient.
EV charger.

Our campus has grown into the largest multi-purpose electric vehicle charging center in San Diego County, serving more than 5,500 unique drivers. Photo by Erik Jepsen/University Communications.

Each year, the Sustainability Report will be a milestone recognizing the extraordinary efforts of UC San Diego faculty, staff, and students as they strive to defy expectations in order to make our world a better place locally and globally. .

“We are excited to showcase UC San Diego’s progress in 2021 toward meeting our sustainability goals,” said Jen D. Bowser, sustainability engagement manager. “Much of this work is done behind the scenes. It is important that we celebrate the efforts of so many departments and individuals on campus and champion their successes. We also aim to raise awareness through the annual sustainability report and influence the campus community to do their part to help UC San Diego be a sustainable university that future generations can enjoy.

Take action Tritons!

What can faculty, staff and students do to make our campus even more sustainable? Here are 10 simple steps you can take that are making a difference, not just throughout Earth Month, but throughout the year.

Use power strips.
Plug computers and electronic devices into power strips. Switching off power strips at the end of the day can reduce electricity consumption by 20-48%.

Consider natural lighting.
You can reduce your energy consumption by up to 22% by taking advantage of natural lighting. Turn off lights when not in use.

Close the faucet.
Save gallons of water for every minute you turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or lathering up. The average faucet flow rate is 1 to 5 gallons per minute.

bikes that are part of bike share programs.

Students, faculty, and staff take advantage of bike-share programs to get to and around campus Photo Credit: Rhett S. Miller

Eat what’s on your plate.
About 40% of the food produced ends up in landfill. Reduce food waste where possible and share extra food with Triton Pantry.

Consider alternative public transit.
Triton U-Pass offers students unlimited travel on all regional tram and bus lines, and a free trial program is available to most faculty and staff. take advantage of bike share programs to get to and around campus. the Triton Commuter Club rewards those who choose low-impact transportation options.

If you work in a lab…
Close the belt before stepping away from the hood. Closing the frame can reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 60%. To learn how to make your lab more sustainable.

Reduce paper consumption.
Print physical copies of documents only when necessary and print double-sided whenever possible.

Avoid single-use plastics.
Use reusable shopping bags, water bottles, utensils and food containers whenever possible. enjoy more 125 hydration stations on campus and Triton2Go program.

Learn to recycle and compost.
Did you know that our campus has a anaerobic digester who transforms food waste from Sixth College restaurants into renewable biogas and liquid fertilizer? To learn how to recycle everything food scraps to cardboard.

To be involved.
Learn about events, organizations and scholarships at Inter-Sustainability Council, a coalition of sustainability organizations at UC San Diego.

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