UC Santa Barbara

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

2016 Best Practice Award Winners

We are pleased to announce the winners of the twelfth annual Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practice Awards competition:

Energy Efficiency In New Construction Or Major Renovation

  • CSU East Bay, CSU East Bay Student and Faculty Support 
    • CSU East Bay’s Student and Faculty Support building replaces an obsolete building with five stories of new office and conference facilities. The project is designed to be highly energy efficient, saving over $100,000 in annual energy costs, using 50 percent less energy than the Title-24 baseline, when including production from the rooftop photovoltaic system. During the demolition of the existing building and construction of the replacement, over 75% of construction waste was diverted from landfill. The project’s landscape design responds to its site by reducing disruption to natural water flows, and allowing for on-site infiltration of rainwater. The project reduced water use by 40% compared to the baseline, and is expected to achieve LEED Gold Certification.
  • UC Berkeley, Jacobs Hall
    • The new Jacobs Hall at UC Berkeley houses collaborative, project-based educational spaces and aspires to be a symbol of the university’s commitment to sustainable innovation. The project team raised the bar in terms of energy performance, selecting an ambitious target of exceeding the AIA 2030 Commitment goal by using 90% less energy than the national median for university buildings. Towards meeting this goal, the project integrates many energy-efficient strategies: a narrow floor plan to improve daylight harvesting and natural ventilation, external shading, ceiling fans, cool roofing, and a 74kW photovoltaic array that is expected to provide 58% of the building’s energy requirement. An additional unusual strategy is to utilize surplus hot and chilled water when needed for space conditioning from an adjacent building.

Energy Efficiency In Existing Buildings: HVAC Design/Retrofit And Commissioning

  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly SLO Variable Chilled Water Pumping and Plant Optimization
    • As part of a $4 million energy conservation project funded by PG&E On Bill Finance and a low interest CEC loan, Cal Poly implemented retrofits of multiple mechanical systems in 14 buildings and the central plant. The goal of the project was to maximize return on investment within the payback criteria of the loans, modernize chilled water pumping systems, optimize chiller plant operation, upgrade boiler controls, and pilot wireless pneumatic thermostats. The project is estimated to avoid 1,000,000 kWh and 47,000 therms annually, which is equivalent to savings of $128,000 per year.
  • UC San Francisco, PSSRB Vivarium Monitoring Based Commissioning Project 
    •  The UC San Francisco PSSRB Vivarium Monitoring Based Commissioning Project was initiated due to the high energy-use intensity of the building as compared to others on campus. Through analysis of building operations and performance data, adjustments to ventilation rates based on occupied and unoccupied states were identified as the prime opportunity for energy savings. In the end, the verified annual electricity savings were three times more than initially estimate at almost 1,500,000 kWh, saving over $215,000 per year. 

Energy Efficiency In Existing Buildings: Lighting Design/Retrofit

  • CSU Fullerton, CSUF Campus wide LED Lighting Retrofit 
    • The campus wide LED lighting project consisted of retrofitting 68,000 interior, linear fluorescent lamps with an LED tube retrofit. By partnering with the local utility, Southern California Edison, CSUF was able to receive over $500,000 in incentives for the retrofit. In addition to the utility incentive, the expected annual energy savings for the project will be approximately 4 million kWh with cost savings of over $500,000. In order to fund a project at such a magnitude, CSUF piloted its first ever Green Revolving Fund (GRF). This fund lends itself to campus wide energy initiatives whereby the utility incentive and the annual energy savings will be allocated to the GRF to fund future energy projects.
  • UC Santa Cruz, McHenry Library Lighting Retrofit & Optimization
    • The UCSC McHenry Library building was identified as an opportunity for a lighting retrofit project due to its high energy use, long operating hours, and large areas within the building with very low occupancy. The project team implemented an LED conversion on most fixtures in the building, as well as controls upgrades or modifications in select areas. The design took a simple approach by converting fixtures with new controls in the stacks and modifying the programming for the existing controls in the rest of the building. The new controls in the stacks allow for demand-based lighting that make the stacks appropriately inviting when vacant, and well-lit when occupied while saving significant amounts of energy.

Water Efficiency/Site Water Quality

  • CSU Stanislaus, Cooling Tower Reclaimed Water Project 
    • The Cooling Tower Reclaimed Water Project consisted of converting the campus Central Plant cooling towers from using potable water to reclaimed rainwater, using the existing extensive campus infrastructure of rainwater storage. The result of the project was a 22% monthly reduction in campus potable water use, which equates to approximately 5 million gallons annually. Another benefit of the project was a reduction in water and sewage costs due to decreased wastewater discharge to the city sewer system. The committee found this to be an exceptional project noteworthy for its regional significance.
  • Honorable Mention: CSU Fullerton, Drought Response 
    • During the 2015 mandatory California drought response, CSU Fullerton was required to reduce potable water use by 28%. After evaluating existing water use on campus and the opportunities for reductions, two primary strategies were identified: sub-meter water sources to more accurately measure and manage water use into the future and eliminate irrigation to over 11 acres of turf on campus to immediately reduce campus water usage and ultimately replace the turf with native and adaptive vegetation. In addition to the incredible 28% reduction in campus water use, the award panel was impressed by the cultural shift on campus to support the browning of campus.
  • UC San Diego, Reclaimed Water Pipeline Expansion and Central Plants Cooling Tower Retrofits
    • The cooling tower retrofit projects at UCSD mark a significant and permanent reduction in potable water use. City of San Diego supplied reclaimed water is now used as make-up water for the cooling towers at  the campus’ two main central utilities plants, ultimately reducing potable water consumption at the towers by 80%.  In addition to the cooling tower retrofits, UCSD installed nearly a mile of new reclaimed water pipeline to meet irrigation needs. These two projects will save more than 100 million gallons of potable water annually.

Innovative Waste Reduction

  • CSU Sacramento, The Closed Loop: Sacramento State Food Waste Diversion and Green Transportation
    • The Sacramento State food waste diversion program demonstrates innovative problem solving and systems thinking. Sacramento State sends their food waste to an external anaerobic biodigester, which converts the food waste to bio-CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), which is then sold back to the University to fuel their campus shuttle buses. In Fall 2015, 26.49 tons of food waste were diverted to bio-CNG fuel, which the shuttle buses can use directly. Not only did Sacramento State divert significant amounts of food waste from landfill, more than 301.5 metric tons of GHG emissions were avoided through the use of the bio-CNG, thereby demonstrating the synergistic benefits of a closed loop system. 
  • UC San Francisco, UCSF Consolidate & Sort Waste Diversion Program
    • UCSF’s robust Recycling and Waste Reduction outreach program has helped the campus move toward a 70% diversion rate. Achieving Zero Waste, however, will require more direct action. Through a grant from the City of San Francisco and with labor from with San Francisco’s Conservation Corps, materials left in trash bins are now sorted to further divert recyclable and compostable materials from the landfill. This process will save over one million pounds of material from ending up in landfill.

Student Sustainability Leadership

  • CSU Northridge, Sustainable Office Program
    • Launched in 2014, the Sustainable Office Program provides education and valuable resources to help improve sustainability within office settings throughout the campus. The program is run by students and has assessed over 50 offices thus far, impacting 200-250 faculty, students, and staff. The assessments are conducted by a group of trained students within the AS Recycling Team. The team talks to designated staff and conducts a survey to evaluate existing practices and procedures in the workplace. Students then prepare a report assessing the sustainability measures in the office any recommending changes to help save water, energy and waste.
  • UC Riverside, Sustainability Liaison
    • The Sustainability Liaison position was created by the Graduate Student Assembly in partnership with the Office of Sustainability in order to engage graduate students in the Carbon Neutrality Initiative and other sustainability programs. The graduate student government created this position to focus on addressing a variety of behaviors in laboratory settings that can help reduce energy consumption through ongoing education and resources. The Sustainability Liaison is also responsible for establishing a Graduate Sustainability Fund that will support future sustainability projects on campus. The committee appreciated this innovative approach to institutionalizing sustainability in hard-to-reach laboratories and for engaging hard-to-reach graduate students in campus sustainability efforts.

Sustainable Food Systems

  • CSU Sacramento, A Multi-trophic Food Production System Integrating Aquaponics with Bio-Waste Recycling 
    • This ambitious project, located on the CSU Sacramento campus, was designed to be a working model of a sustainable system, providing educational and community outreach opportunities on the principles of sustainability, the characteristics of sustainable food systems, and the benefits and opportunities in building sustainable communities. The working demonstration of a multi-trophic sustainable closed-loop system (MTSS) uses bio-wastes (green, brown, and food wastes) diverted from landfills as a resource to produce high quality protein feed through vermicomposting and insect farming to raise fish and plants for human consumption. The project measures the quantities of wastes diverted, the conversion efficiency to protein feed, and the quantities of food generated.
  • Honorable Mention: CSU Northridge, Radioactive Seafood Market
    • Three CSUN art education professors collaborated to apply theory and practice for innovative thematic curricula, especially in the areas of the environment and sustainability. With a spotlight on the 2011 tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors on the coast of Japan, students studied the environmental effects of radioactive contamination on sea life in the Pacific Ocean, and ongoing problems and concerns for people in Japan, the U.S. and beyond. Following research activities, students created mixed-media ocean creatures culminating for a group exhibition entitled “Radioactive Seafood Market”. The exhibition functioned as a powerful visual learning experience about art and global issues, for both students and the viewing public. In addition, teachers and students from several elementary and high school classrooms participated in their own version of this unit, along with CSUN pre-service teachers for high school and K-5.
  • UC Berkeley, Browns – a California café
    • In alignment with the goals outlined by the Global Food Initiative, Menus of Change and the UCOP policy for sustainable food, Brown’s opened with the goal of serving food that is delicious, nutrient- dense, and environmentally- friendly. Over 80%of the ingredients are sourced locally from within 250 miles of the UC Berkeley campus and 90% of the ingredients used are either locally grown or certified by a third- party for sustainable practices. Berkeley nutritional science and toxicology lecturer Kristen Rasmussen led the Cal Dining effort to visit farms and producers throughout Northern California, develop recipes and assemble Brown’s first locally themed menu, with the top priority being “deliciousness.”
  • Honorable Mention: UC San Francisco, Reduction of meat and poultry products raised with non-therapeutic antibiotics
    • UC San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center Nutrition and Food Services (NFS) is committed to the responsible sourcing of food for the patients and customers it services. NFS attempts to maximize its food budget dollars to promote public health through selective purchasing of sustainable foods. The goal of this project was to increase the percentage of purchased meat prepared without the use of nontherapeutic antibiotics. Strategies included networking with similar operators to identify common products, better understanding the local food systems and economics related to purchasing meat, and identifying and purchasing cost effective meat products meeting specifications and nutritional needs.

Sustainable Transportation

  • CSU Fullerton, CSUF Battery Storage and EV Charging System
    • As electric vehicle (EV) ownership increase and more universities look to install EV charging stations to support them, issues around campus infrastructure and electrical supply are coming to the fore. Energy storage can play an important role in mitigating expensive power spikes caused by EV charging, especially with fast DC charging stations and large banks of level 2 stations. Given this, CSU Fullerton’s Battery Energy Storage and EV Charging Integration Project paired a new DC Fast Charging Station with a new 30kWh Battery Energy Storage. Coupling these two emerging technologies showcases a unique solution to addressing the rising concerns around EV charging infrastructure
  • UC Santa Barbara, Partnering to Improve Alternative Transportation
    • In an effort to reduce carbon emissions and vehicle traffic, UC Santa Barbara partnered with the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) to expand public transit to campus. Two existing Santa Barbara MTD routes were expanded and a brand-new line was created, allowing university students and employees to ride to for free. UCSB worked with MTD to promote the new lines both on and off campus through signage and outreach. The partnership helps to reduce single-occupancy vehicle traffic and on campus parking needs while avoiding roughly 200,000 student car trips in the program’s first year alone.

Sustainability Innovations

  • CSU Chico, South Campus Neighborhood Project
    • Chico State has launched a new partnership with the City of Chico focused on sustainability and the South Campus Neighborhood, a 42 square-block residential area directly adjacent to the University and downtown Chico. In an interdisciplinary approach to addressing real community sustainability issues in the classroom, the Institute for Sustainable Development coordinated faculty across a variety of departments and colleges to focus their academic expertise and students in their courses on different components of the neighborhood. The committee appreciated the partnership with the city and the interdisciplinary nature of the project as well as its potential wide impact.  
  • UC Santa Cruz, UCSC’s Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality by 2025
    • In 2013, UC President Janet Napolitano committed UC to reaching carbon neutrality by 2025. Around this time, UC Santa Cruz was beginning to consider the impacts of pending Cap & Trade regulation. UCSC therefore invested in a comprehensive Climate & Energy Strategy (CES) to address how the campus could reach carbon neutrality by 2025 and mitigate the financial impacts of Cap & Trade regulation associate with campus growth. The resulting collaborative process developed an integrated and dynamic plan presenting an array of strategies that includes specific projects, policies and procurements, detailing financial and emissions impacts and risks.
  • Honorable Mention: UC San Diego, Advanced Energy Storage at UCSD: Reducing Peak Power and Increasing the Microgrid’s Reliability
    • California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires utilities to increase renewable sources to 33% by 2020. While this is major progress in the right direction, it presents significant challenges for utilities and grid operators given the intermittent nature of most renewable sources. Energy storage will therefore be a major part of the solution. UC San Diego has installed a 2.5 MW (5 MWh) advanced energy system, composed of lithium ion iron-phosphate batteries. The project saves money, improves the operation & reliability of UCSD’s microgrid operation, and facilitates research and education on advanced energy storage.

Sustainability in Academics: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

  • CSU East Bay, Social Impact Through Sustainable Solar Design
    • CSU East Bay’s course Social Impact Through Sustainable Solar Design, was pioneered in fall 2015. With an overarching goal of integrating sustainability and social justice into a single course, the specific objectives were to teach solar energy design, motivate STEM learning, inspire altruism, and engage students as local and global citizens. The committee looked favorably upon the high-impact courses, curriculum, and hands-on learning opportunities offered to students in the program. The intended educational goals and outcomes of the program (including among non-STEM majors, particularly amongst traditionally underrepresented, female and minority college students) were very effectively combined with exposure to ethical issues as global and local citizens, and in motivating altruistic community involvement.  
  • UC Santa Cruz, UCSC Sustainability Studies & Sustainable Living Undergraduate Research Program
    • In 2014, College Eight launched a minor in Sustainability Studies, to run for a three-year pilot phase.  Not only is this minor designed to be highly interdisciplinary, it is also the first such college-sponsored degree program in several decades. As such, the Sustainability Studies minor offers a model for new college-based undergraduate curricula and pedagogies and emphasizes the central academic role of UCSC’s college system on the campus. The committee felt that the program offered the strongest instance of a systems-focused educational offering, effectively combining classroom learning, service learning, and research and application.  The program, moreover, is valuable in shaping a curriculum which effectively articulates both the technical and societal complexity of the food-energy-water nexus challenge. 

Sustainability in Academics: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

  • CSU San Marcos, Sustainability Experienced Through Interactive Design
    • CSU San Marcos’ course “Sustainability Experienced Through Interactive Design” exposed students to the power of design in addressing real-world issues by creating projects that addressed local sustainability topics. Students chose an environmental issue and used art, web design, GIS, and video to illustrate both the problem and potential solutions. The project demonstrates how a course can help a campus or community design a complete communication and public relations campaign around an environmental issue.
  • UC Irvine, University of California, Irvine, Sustainability Initiative
    • Community-engaged scholarship and practice are integral to UCI’s excellence as a research university. Housed within the Office of Academic Initiatives, the Sustainability Initiative fosters interdisciplinary and community-engaged scholarship on critical issues confronting society in pursuit of environmental balance, economic vitality, and social justice. The Initiative promotes collaborations with diverse communities on and off campus in developing solutions to sustainability challenges affecting California and the globe. Together with campus partners, sustainability is infused into campus culture and systems, empowering students and faculty with the rich institutional history of impactful research. Programs include curricular and co-curricular education, student leadership training, and internships, and international immersions.