UCSB recently received three awards from a statewide college energy efficiency competition honoring the success of the university’s sustainability projects.

The Best Practice Awards for the Energy Efficiency Partnership Program recognize the achievements of the University of California, California State University and California Community College campuses in 11 categories of innovative energy efficiency projects and effective sustainable practices. UCSB was acknowledged in the categories of best student sustainability program, sustainable foods service, water efficiency and site water quality.

According to Matthew St. Clair, Sustainability Manager for the UC Office of President, the awards are designed to encourage environmentally conscious efforts while highlighting the importance of adopting energy efficient projects and practices.

“There are several reasons why it is important — one of which is for colleges and universities to demonstrate leadership in reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions,” St. Clair said. “Part of that is in modeling sustainable practices for students so they can learn about ways to combat climate change and take that knowledge into their careers with them.”

Because the two campuses’ programs were not directly comparable, St. Clair said both UCSB and UC San Diego were recognized for the Water Efficiency & Site Water Quality award.

“Both were dealing with water consumption in a different format and the selection committee was very impressed with both projects and wanted to be able to recognize both,” St. Clair said. “Southern California Edison actually agreed to fund a second water award because they thought it was so worthy to award both projects.”

The San Clemente Ecological Restoration & Stormwater Management Project at UCSB, which won the Water Efficiency & Site Water Quality award, consists of a 13-acre restoration site that utilizes bioswales and wetlands to filter 100 percent of stormwater runoff and reduce the risk of flooding.

Lisa Stratton, co-chair of the Landscape & Biotic Environment Team for UCSB Sustainability, said one of the desired effects of the project is to emphasize the importance of sustainable practices in everyday life.

“This award helps provide incentive to make [sustainability] a more streamlined part of all projects,” Stratton said. “Instead of just being this innovative thing we’re going to do now, I think it is helping it become an established regular component of all projects.”

Additionally, the Program for the Assessment and Certification for the Environment and Sustainability — a student-led joint effort between the Ellison Hall Sustainability Committee and Associated Students Recycling at UCSB — won the UC award within the Student Sustainability Program category.

Evanne St. Charles, student leader of P.A.C.E.S. and A.S. Environmental Affairs Board Campus Affairs officer, said the team focuses on inexpensive measures to improve upon sustainability.

“P.A.C.E.S. aims to reduce UCSB’s environmental impact through long-term, behavioral changes to motivate staff, faculty and students that change can and should happen at the individual and departmental levels and to encourage the development of ongoing environmental initiatives,” Charles said in an e-mail.

Furthermore, the Residential Dining Sustainability Plan on campus earned the Sustainable Foods Service award for the program’s accomplishments in recycling, composting and waste, water and energy reduction. The program was also praised for its reliance on locally grown organic produce as well as its outstanding educational staff training and external outreach programs.

UCSB’s Residential Dining Services also created the Santa Barbara area Community Sustainable Foods Group, which is comprised of staff, students, faculty and community members who collaborate on sustainability projects.

St. Clair said UCSB’s achievements will act as a model for other colleges and universities at a statewide conference in June. The winners of each category will be attending the ninth annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference from June 20-23, where students, faculty, campus staff and administrators will exchange ideas and showcase their unique design concepts.

“As for the projects that have gotten awarded in the past, many campuses have adopted those same practices,” St. Clair said. “We are trying to make the best practice into common practice.”