In November of 2013, UC President Janet Napolitano announced the Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which commits the UC to emitting net zero greenhouse gases from its buildings and vehicle fleet by 2025. This initiative builds on the the pioneering research done on our campuses and pledges that the UC will become a model in the fight against climate change, not only for California, but for the nation and the rest of the world.
Bold and visionary, President Napolitano’s directive has set a high bar and has called for UC campuses to work collaboratively in achieving carbon neutrality. Each campus is moving toward this goal and I could not be more proud of the work we are doing at UC Davis.
At the UC Carbon Neutrality Summit I shared what UC Davis is doing on this front.
- At least 20 percent of our faculty is engaged in sustainability research.
In the coming weeks, we will formally dedicate the largest on-site solar installation for any university in all of North America. This solar farm will:
- Generate 33 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year; providing 14 percent of electricity needs for our campus.
- Reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 14,000 metric tons. This is equal to removing 3,000 cars off the roadways or powering almost 2,00 American homes a year.
- Roughly 80 percent of campus waste is diverted from landfills.
- Our Renewable Energy Anaerobic Biodigester, with technology invented by one of our own faculty researchers, will divert 20,000 tons of waste from local landfills and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10,000 tons each year.
- Turf conversions, low-flow fixtures and recycling water has saved more than 322 million gallons of water in the past year alone.
- The UC Davis West Village community is on track to be the largest planned zero net energy community in the country.
- UC Davis has five LEED-platinum buildings (certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program).
- Over 75 percent of our students use pedal-powered transportation.
- The student-run Unitrans bus system is powered by natural gas or biodiesel.
Perhaps most important over the long-term, our faculty teaches more than 180 courses per year emphasizing sustainability. I am proud to say that our students share this passion, leading 40 environmental and sustainability-related clubs and organizations, holding 260 campus events per year focused on sustainability. In other words, we are educating future leaders who will take what they’ve learned on our campus and help make the world a better, healthier and more sustainable place.
UC and the state of California’s progressive environmental laws and regulations are setting an example for the world. Through our collective efforts, we are finding solutions to the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.