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.