UCSB continues to excel as a leader in sustainability through the collaborative efforts of students, staff and faculty to keep ahead of advances in green technology.

Since creating one of the nation’s first environmental studies programs in 1970, UCSB made monumental progress implementing waste diversion, sustainable energy, water conservation and alternative transportation programs. Continuing its sterling reputation for sustainable efforts, UCSB has renovated many campus buildings with modern energy-efficient initiatives such as solar panels and pledges to generate 75 percent of its power needs through renewable sources by 2030.

According to Grant Keefe, UCSB’s sustainability coordinator and The Green Initiative Fund grants manager, collective efforts from members throughout the community have helped UCSB along in its role as a leader in university sustainability.

“Sustainability presents challenges that are truly multi-disciplinary, and our campus’ students, faculty and staff have demonstrated their commitment to resolving these challenges through their collaboration with one another,” Keefe said.

Last spring, students approved a $3.4 million Renewable Energy Initiative to achieve zero net energy operation at UCSB’s Student Affairs buildings by 2020. The student-approved referendum gives UCSB the highest amount of student funding for onsite renewable energy projects of any U.S. university.

For the most part, Geography Dept. Executive Officer and UCSB Sustainability member Mo Lovegreen said, the campus’ largest sustainability projects are embodied in its physical institutions.

In constructing and renovating facilities, UCSB strongly adheres to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design portfolio program, which has certified 25 of the university’s buildings. In fact, the university requires all upcoming construction to meet the standards of LEED’s Gold certification. The university has also implemented modern advances in renewable energy and sustainability within various buildings on campus, such as the University Center, Recreation Center and all four dining commons.

“[UCSB has] the most LEED certified buildings in the UC system,” Keefe said. “We achieved LEED [Existing Building] Gold for our Marine Sciences Research Building last month and the Bren School was the first LEED Double-Platinum building in the world.”

Furthermore, UCSB’s Rec Cen features sustainable photovoltaic panels that provide 70 percent of the building’s energy. The university plans to install solar water systems in the Rec Cen that will supply heated water to the pools while reducing power and costs.

UCSB also recently signed a new waste management contract with MarBorg Industries, a company focused on recycling and waste management. According to the contract, UCSB expects to attain an 80 percent recycling rate by 2015 and is required to meet a “zero waste” target by 2020. The new contract allowed for the distribution of 100 new co-mingled recycling bins around campus, Keefe said.

The UCen recently instigated an extensive recycling program which recycles used cooking oil for biodiesel. Additionally, 80 percent of coffee sold in the UCen must now be certified Fair Trade or organic and seven percent of produce must be locally grown and organic. UCen restrooms also boast waterless urinals and 100 percent recycled-content hand towels.

The dining commons also executed many new sustainability procedures that led to a large reduction in energy usage, waste and necessary funds. The implementation of trayless dining in the 2009-2010 year led to a 54 percent decrease in food waste, and all the school’s dining commons also recycle plastics, glass, cardboard, organic food waste, coffee grounds, fryer oil, light bulbs, old equipment and even metals.

Other improved areas include energy-efficient light bulbs throughout campus and a community garden located near Harder Stadium where herbs are grown with fertilizer made with compost produced at the De La Guerra Dining Commons.

Faculty, administrators and deans formed the Chancellor’s Sustainability Committee in 2008 to address sustainability from an administrative position.

“The CSC currently advises campus administrators and the Chancellor on matters of campus sustainability,” Keefe said. “[It] makes recommendations for campus sustainability projects, helps prioritize sustainability goals, monitors the campus’ progress toward meeting the goals of its sustainability plan, makes recommendations on allocations of available funding resources and provides guidance in the creation and fostering of alliances.”

Keefe said having an environmentally-conscious student body is another main component of keeping the university progressively sustainable.

“The campus community contributes to UCSB’s sustainability efforts,” Keefe said. “By switching off lights, printing double-sided or taking the extra moment to recycle, individuals make the everyday choices that drive the success of the campus’ sustainability programs and drastically reduce our impact on the environment.”

Environmental Affairs Board Co-Chair Andrew Dunn, a fifth-year film and media studies major, said the student-run EAB is focused on making UCSB an environmentally-friendly community.

“One of EAB’s central goals is to make UCSB more efficient when it comes to energy and resource consumption,” Dunn said. “We work with the campus organization [Program for the Assessment and Certification for the Environment and Sustainability] to train students to conduct energy and waste audits of buildings; the data from these studies will be used to find ways to reduce energy usage, which both benefits UCSB financially and limits our campus’ negative impact on our environment.”

According to Dunn, EAB has been a major contributor to on-campus sustainability renovations including the trayless dining used in all UCSB dining commons, as well as The Green Initiative Fund.

“EAB created The Green Initiative Fund at UCSB, which funds projects that enhance the environment and lower the impact of the campus,” Dunn said. “With the help of [California Student Sustainability Coalition], other California schools now run TGIF programs.”