The University of California saved almost $15 million dollars in energy costs in the last seven years by significantly reducing its carbon footprint.

The University began implementing environmentally friendly policies in 2003 and has cut energy costs through its Energy Efficiency Partnership with the state’s investor-owned utilities. Multiple UC campuses have also received honors in prestigious publications, including the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll, for their active approaches to “greening.”

University of California Office of the President Spokeswoman Leslie Sepuka said the UC is extremely active in promoting sustainable polices.

“[UC President Mark G. Yudof] has recognized that by cutting waste and improving efficiency, UC sustainability has demonstrated the University’s commitment to stewardship of state resources,” Sepuka said.

Additionally, the efficient designs of the UC’s 32 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green-certified buildings have also helped curb energy costs. LEED buildings strictly follow design guidelines created by the U.S. Green Building Council and serve as the industry standard for sustainable practices.

Jordan Sager, UCSB’s LEED program manager, said the campus is currently working with Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Company on a three-year strategic program that is speculated to save the university $17 million in energy costs.

“Most of the projects replace the lighting in the buildings, such as the parking structures,” he said. “Lighting is a large cost to the campus. The university gets a fixed budget for lighting that remains consistent over the years. However, electricity prices do not. By cutting down the costs, we hope to keep within the budget.”

In recent years, instituting sustainable practices has emerged as a major systemwide goal. Individuals affiliated with the UC have worked to support policy changes promoting renewable resources, recycling, waste reduction, green construction methods and campus foodservice guidelines.

After receiving over 10,000 postcards from students requesting more sustainable food options, the University of California Board of Regents decided to establish foodservice guidelines last year. UCSB implemented the policies on campus this year through the “Trayless Challenge,” which ended the use of trays in the dining commons.

As of November 2009, the initiative had cut the average waste at De la Guerra Dining Commons by 54 percent — from 6.4 oz. per person in the spring of 2009 to 2.95 oz. of waste per person during Fall Quarter.

Additionally, the total waste per person, per meal is down 37 percent across all University dining commons.

Furthermore, a recent UC policy seeks to install 10 megawatts of on-campus renewable energy generators by 2014, while another project requires 20 percent of the University’s electricity to come from renewable sources. The University of California is also considering harnessing wind, solar and other renewable sources of energy during