UC Santa Barbara

April 28th - May 1st, 2021: Climate Justice Symposium for Transforming Education; July 2021 CHESC

2020 Best Practice Award Winners

The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference Steering Committee and the Host Campus, the University of California, Santa Barbara would like to announce the following best practice award winners for the Annual Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practice Awards Competition: 

Sustainable Food Service 

CSU Dominguez Hills

Sustainable Food System: Because Everybody Eats

The Office of Sustainability has built up an elegant but effective network of sustainable food sources tied with a student-run distribution system. These elements work together to increase access to fresh, locally farmed produce for the campus and community, to directly alleviate food insecurity, and to combat food waste while creating opportunities for engagement and education around sustainability.

UC Merced

“Ugly Produce” Rescue and Donation Initiative

A simple question “What do you do with your ugly produce?” to UC Merced’s produce vendor, Daylight Foods has turned into a food waste reduction and produce donation program which not only has benefitted UC Merced’s food insecure students and community members, but has also provided nutrient dense fruits and vegetables to food security programs at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, and CSU Chico.

Student Sustainability Leadership

Santa Clara University

Tree Trackers: An Urban Forestry Monitoring Team

The Tree Trackers is an urban forestry monitoring team that uses tools and observations to gather data about the health and growth of on-campus tree, educates the campus community about the importance of a healthy urban forest, and engages community members in the university’s Sustainability Strategic Plan. The data gathered by the Tree Trackers is compiled and distributed to the University Facilities Department to notify Landscaping Technicians of the health of our urban forest.

CSU and UC Award Winners Pending 


Academics: Interdisciplinary

Multi-campus Award Winner

UC-CSU NXTerra – California’s New Climate Crisis Teaching Tool

UC-CSU NXTerra Co-Director Dr. John Foran (Distinguished UCSB Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at UCSB) will introduce NXTerra and discuss the current, second phase of global expansion; Project Leader Richard Widick will give a live tour of the NXTerra digital platform for Transformative Educational Resources for Climate Action, and several NXTerra Topic Curators will discuss their contributions to the project. The presentation will break into an audience input and networking session designed to grow the NXTerra Knowledge Action Network.

CSU Stanislaus

Institutionalizing Teaching Sustainability/Campus as a Living Lab Faculty Learning Communities

Based on the success of two Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) in infusing sustainability into the curriculum of twenty-one courses from nineteen disciplines and in recognition of the crucial role that sustainability in the curriculum plays in empowering students with tools to address challenges resulting from the interconnectedness of environment, society, and the economy, Stanislaus State’s Teaching Sustainability/Campus as a Living Lab FLCs were institutionalized in support of the university’s strategic plan to prepare students for careers related to sustainability.

UC Merced

Carson House Sustainable Futures: A Student Community Learning, Living Sustainability

Carson House is a living learning community: a year-long immersive course and residence experience for first year students that focuses on sustainable principles. Carson House imbues an economic, social and environmental way of living today, and for future generations. Students live together and build a peer community connection to shared educational experiences, including participating in directed and self-directed events and programs. Supported by dedicated instructors, faculty, and staff, the students collaborate to realize a new sustainable vision for the future.

Sustainable Transportation 

The California Institute of Technology

EV Charging: From Research to Industry Leader

Caltech’s California Garage: From EV charging theory to 3 million miles delivered. This is a story of how an EV charging problem at Caltech evolved into advanced EV charging technologies that are now used at hundreds of workplaces and campuses in California.

Sacramento State University 

Parking Structure V

Park Smart Certified Parking Structure V: Mitigating Impacts on a Commuter Campus with a growing student population.

UC Irvine 

Transition from a Bio-Diesel to Electric Transit Fleet

In 2013, the ASUCI student leadership recognized that the Anteater Express’ fleet of 29 diesel buses were due for replacement. ASUCI students proposed a ballot initiative (entitled “Bus Love”) that would fund a replacement fleet for the Anteater Express. After certain conditions were met by UC Irvine administrators (such as approval for infrastructure and a location to charge the electric fleet using UC Irvine’s self-generating microgrid), the Bus Love Board approved moving forward with the purchase of 20 electric buses

Waste Reduction 

Multi-Campus Award

Talking Trash: Tackling The Dirty Job of Centralizing Waste

Last year, UCLA presented approaches to achieve Zero Waste. Cal_State_East_Bay(CSUEB) adopted some of these to further zero waste education. The campuses developed a comprehensive session: UCLA will provide a deep-dive into tactics, pilots, and student programs. CSUEB will discuss leveraging lessons-learned from UCLA to bridge CSUEB Sustainability (based in Academic Affairs) and Facilities Development and Operations (FDO in Finance & Administration) to co-develop a building zero-waste pilot, resulting in FDO inviting Sustainability to contribute to the campus zero waste plan.

San Francisco State University

Circular Usage of Marketing Materials

Plastic Banners of various sizes procured by most College Marketing departments, hang on street poles, proclaiming the goodness of the schools. When no longer required, they are moved to landfill where because of their content, they will not decompose. Funded by a grant from the San Francisco Department of Environment, the purpose of this project was to investigate, develop, implement and video a model of circularity, redirecting used SFSU banners from landfill to new markets.

Water Efficiency & Site Water Quality 

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Reimagining Water – Reuse, Renewal, Resilience, and Research

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, is demonstrating the possibility of deep sustainability and resilience by actively developing an on-campus recycled water system. This recycled water system will provide the campus with sufficient new water and waste water capacity to meet the needs of the campus’ 2035 Master Plan, renew and expand agricultural irrigation storage and distribution infrastructure, save $10 million dollars, and create a valuable academic asset that will support curriculum, research, and an innovative waste water operator licensing program.

Partnerships, Communications, & Planning 

Santa Rosa Junior College

Climate Action Night

Climate Action Night is a climate legislation awareness event sponsored by Santa Rosa Junior College. Students present posters on current climate-related bills in the California legislature (science fair style) to the broader public. Members of the public can then write postcards to elected officials. Students then lobbied state and local elected officials by visiting their offices to present the posters and the postcards.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Optimizing the Business Case for Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience

Cal Poly’s Climate Action Plan aims to achieve carbon neutrality and climate resilience, but how long will it take and what will it actually cost? To optimize the technological and financial path to carbon neutrality while supporting Master Plan growth, Cal Poly undertook two transformative studies – a comprehensive Utility Master Plan and deep customization of the Climate and Energy Scenario Analysis (CESA) tool originally developed by UC Santa Cruz. Come learn how to optimize your campus’ path to carbon neutrality.

UC Merced

Cooking Up New Programs to “Leave No Food Behind”

UC Merced has launched several waste reduction programs targeting food waste on campus and in the community. The Bobcat Eats Food Waste Awareness and Prevention Program has redirected more than 2 million pounds of food that would have otherwise gone to the landfill. After the success of this program, other areas of food waste have been identified leading to the creation of new programs which have been highly successful in waste reduction due largely to effective planning, partnerships and communications.

Social Equity & Justice 

CSU Northridge & CSU San Marcos

Sustainable Menstruation: Making Periods Zero Waste and Accessible to All

Did you know that the average menstruating person throws away 1,200 menstrual care products during their time in college? Disposable menstrual care products are wasteful and expensive, especially for students on a limited budget. With this statistic in mind, CSU San Marcos and CSU Northridge found an innovative way to connect sustainability to the campus community. This session will share how two universities developed sustainable menstruation initiatives including information about funding, engagement strategies, lessons learned, and long term goals.

UC Santa Cruz 

Expanding Sustainability: UCSC’s Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program

The UC Santa Cruz Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program educates staff, faculty, and graduate students to undertake in-depth examinations of how we, through recognizing and understanding of our differences, can work together to build a stronger and more inclusive UC Santa Cruz community, where our diversity is the foundation upon which to build environmental sustainability efforts.

Energy Demand 

Stanford University

Smart Direct Digital Controls (DDC) Upgrades

Stanford has upgraded building control systems in 18 large lab buildings in the past 12 years through its Whole Building Energy Retrofit Program. In two recent retrofits, at the Varian Physics Lab and the McCullough Building, Stanford used innovative approaches to maximize value to the University. These included using fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) software for enhanced commissioning, using lab manager surveys to inform programming choices, and combining energy savings with renewal benefits to improve the business case.

CSU Dominguez Hills 

How to Get Electrifying Energy and Water Savings through Electrification

CSUDH replaced natural gas absorption chillers with electric chillers and one large natural gas boiler with eight small condensing staged boilers in 2019 and was able to quantify the results. While the energy savings were significant (57% reduction in natural gas), there was also a significant cooling tower water savings from the reduced thermal load resulting in 2.8 million gallons per year in water savings.

UC Davis

Class is Over but Campus AV Equipment Keeps Chugging Along

Audio-video equipment is responsible for a significant amount of electricity in campus buildings and doesn’t drop when people leave the building.

Overall Sustainable Design (New Construction & Major Renovations) 

San Bernardino Community College

Net Zero Energy Automotive Technology Building

How do hot rods factor into the design of a net zero energy building? A dynamic high-performance facade, emerging innovations and an integrated energy technology curriculum all enhance the design to ensure that this Automotive Technology Building does not become an energy hog, but rather an exemplary net zero building for the San Bernardino Community College.

Sacramento State University 

Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex

The Sac State Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex offered an opportunity to bring together our design and construction partners, campus constituents and local agencies to prioritize sustainable solutions that minimize our environmental impact on a building type that usually proves to be energy intensive. This included efforts as simple as material selections to complex energy systems, all with the goal of achieving LEED Gold and setting a standard for science laboratory design and operational success in the CSU.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The Integrative Genomics Building 

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will present the sustainability features of a 80,880 square foot genomics laboratory that was completed on its main campus in fall 2019. The design includes a broad range of sustainability strategies and exemplifies two key strategies in the UC Policy on Sustainable practices: (1) Using whole building performance targets to drive deep efficiency and (2) eliminating the use of natural gas for space and water heating.

Sustainability Innovations 

San Mateo Community College District 

Beyond Business as Usual: Sustainability and Social Equity in Procurement

Sustainability and purchasing staff from the San Mateo County Community College District will share lessons learned from their ongoing journey towards sustainable procurement. They will discuss considerations for implementing a sustainable purchasing board policy and for developing an administrative procedure to increase green spending. The presentation will highlight challenges and best practices to increase the responsible sourcing of materials, products, and services in higher education to realize the environmental, social, and economic benefits of campus procurement processes and activities.

CSU Northridge

From Education to Recognition: Engaging Employees to Advance Campus Sustainability

CSU Northridge has been working to institutionalize sustainability on campus for many years. In the 2019-20 academic year, employee engagement was made a priority to further elevate and advance sustainability on campus. We took a multipronged approach to provide sustainability education and recognition for staff through two innovative platforms – developing an employee educators program and offering a sustainability-related staff service award. This presentation will cover how these programs were implemented including timeline, budget, partners, and lessons learned.

UC Santa Barbara and UC Los Angeles

Merging Social and Environmental Sustainability in UC Supply Chains

Historically, social and ethical sustainability of UC suppliers and licensees has been assessed and managed separately from their environmental sustainability practices and policies. After UC Procurement’s completion of a 2-year pilot with a corporate social responsibility monitoring platform for its strategically sourced suppliers, UCLA Trademarks and Licensing is leveraging the tool for its licensing program. This presentation will demonstrate how UCSB and other UCs can follow the model of UCLA, and the potential impact the UC system could have.

Sustainability Champions 

The Sustainability Champions will be announced at the Awards Ceremony