UC Promotes Earth Friendly Practices, Energy Efficiency

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Daily Nexus, University of Santa Barbara
By Allison Bailey / Reporter

In a history-making move, the chancellors of all 10 University of
California campuses pledged Wednesday to make their campuses climate
neutral as soon as possible.

At the Council of Chancellors meeting in Oakland, the chancellors,
along with UC President Robert C. Dynes, agreed to sign the American
College and University Presidents Climate Commitment as founding
members of the leadership circle and charter signatories. With the
agreement, the UC joins 116 schools across the country in a pledge to
present a plan for climate neutrality – the reduction of greenhouse gas
emissions – within two years.

Geography Dept. Campus
Sustainability Coordinator Katie Maynard said UC membership in the
ACUPCC will have a major impact on the success of the program
nationwide.

“Having all of the UC [campuses] sign together is
an important show of unity,” Maynard said. “It will encourage other
schools to make the commitment and help get national attention.”

According
to its website, the ACUPCC agreement recognizes “the scientific
consensus that global warming is real and is largely being caused by
humans, [and] the need to reduce the global emission of greenhouse
gases by 80 percent by mid-century at the latest in order to avert the
worst impacts of global warming.” It also requires that members take
immediate steps to reduce emissions while developing a more
comprehensive plan.

Chancellor Henry T. Yang said in an e-mail that UC policy already meets and exceeds all ACUPCC requirements.

“[The
UC has a] leadership role in climate change action,” Yang said. “In
fact, UC policy and leadership are highlighted as one of the ACUPCC’s
case studies of climate leadership.”

UCSB already has numerous
policies in place designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and
increase energy efficiency. The school has begun tracking its
greenhouse gas emissions and has committed to following the guidelines
of California state law AB 32, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions to year 2000 levels by 2020, and 1990 levels by 2050.

In
addition, by 2008, the campus will release its plan for attaining
climate neutrality, one year earlier than required by the ACUPCC
agreement.

A.S. Environmental Affairs Board, co-chair Ryan
Andersen praised Chancellor Yang for his cooperation with students on
the matter.

“[Chancellor Yang] was by our side the whole time
helping us out,” Andersen said. “It’s really encouraging to have a
chancellor who works with the students to make policy change happen.”

The
University of California Policy on Green Building Design, Clean Energy
Standards and Sustainable Transportation Practices encourages campuses
to incorporate energy-saving practices whenever possible.

The
Green Campus program, along with the EAB and CalPIRG, has held several
light bulb exchanges, where students could exchange their incandescent
light bulbs for more energy-efficient, longer lasting compact
fluorescent bulbs. Sustainability staff has also been reevaluating
lighting in campus buildings in order to ensure every bulb is being
used effectively.

Campus policy mandates that all new buildings
meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver
certification. There are four levels of certification: basic, silver,
gold and platinum; each denotes a higher level of environmental
sustainability.

UCSB is also working to renovate 25 existing
buildings to meet the basic LEED certification within five years. In
addition to more efficient lighting, this process involves purchasing
Energy Star appliances and increasing recycling programs.

Along
with reducing overall energy consumption, Maynard said UCSB is also
working to produce some of its own energy. Currently, Santa Rosa Hall,
Carrillo Dining Commons and the LEED platinum-certified Bren School
have solar panels on their roofs. A project is also underway to install
the panels on the Rec Cen and evaluate the energy efficiency of the
building.

The campus has sponsored a series of events designed
to inform students and the community about global warming issues,
including last night’s lecture by British Petroleum chief scientist
Steven Koonin.

Previous events have included a screening of Al
Gore’s Academy Award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and a
lecture by a top NASA scientist James Hansen. In addition, next weekend
UCSB will host a conference for the California Climate Action Registry,
a greenhouse gas emissions tracking group.

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