UC Santa Barbara

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


2020 Call for Best Practice Award Self-Nominations

We have streamlined the application process this year and have combined the Speaking Proposal and the Best Practice Award Proposal into one form. Please refer to the Call for Proposals page for application instructions. Below you will find an overview of the awards program specifically.

The seventeenth annual Higher Education Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practice Awards competition (at CHESC 2020) is meant to:

  • Highlight the achievements that California campuses have made through innovative and effective energy efficiency projects and sustainable operations.
  • Showcase specific projects as models to be used by other campuses to achieve energy efficiency and sustainability goals.
  • Provide campus staff with a compendium of Best Practice projects that could be transferable to their campus.

Case studies detailing previous energy efficiency awardees for some award categories are available on the Green Building Research Center website.

Please see below for:

  • Eligibility
  • Award Categories
  • Review Process
  • Alternative Instructions for the Sustainability Champion Awards
  • Requirements/Expectations of Selected Winners


This year we are opening the award competition to private colleges and universities in California, California Community Colleges, California State University campuses, and University of California campuses.   Please note that for California Community Colleges, we are accepting nominations in all categories other than the Sustainability Champion.  For the CCC Sustainability Champion, we will be recognizing the Sustainability Champion selected by the CCC Board of Governors. 

In addition to CHESC’s Best Practice Awards program, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office will also still be conducting the Board of Governors Energy and Sustainability Awards program later this year.  

Awards (other than the Sustainability Champion award) will be granted to the campus (not to an individual person).  Companies, non-profits, and campuses outside of California are not eligible for awards though they may be listed as a co-speaker with a campus should the campus win the award and the winning campus chooses that option. All co-speakers must be listed on the application at the time that the application/nomination form is submitted and is subject to the review of the selection committee.

For most award categories, we will allow projects in this category that have been completed in the past two academic years. This includes projects built as early as 2017-2018.  Projects must be completed and have results/measurable data to report by the time of submitting the application for an award.  The one exception is the overall sustainable design (for new construction and major renovations) award category.  For overall sustainable design awards, we will allow projects in this category that have been completed in the past five academic years. This includes projects built as early as 2014-2015.  Projects must still be completed and have measurable post-occupancy data to report by the time of submitting the application for an award.

Award Categories

  • Sustainable Food Service
  • Student Sustainability Leadership
  • Academics: Interdisciplinary
  • Sustainable Transportation
  • Waste Reduction
  • Water Efficiency & Site Water Quality
  • Partnerships, Communications, and Planning
  • Social Equity and Justice
  • Energy Demand
  • Energy Supply
  • Overall Sustainable Design (New Construction & Major Renovations)
  • Sustainability Innovations

Please also note that descriptions of each award can be found on the award categories page.

Review Process

All proposals will be reviewed by selection committees of staff, faculty and students from colleges and universities in California as well as our utility partners. There are several best practice award selection committees divided by topic area. Proposals will generally be graded based on:

  • Quantifiable Sustainability Impact
  • Community Collaboration
  • Whether it is a Best Practice That is Readily Applicable to Other Campuses
  • Relevancy to the Award Category
  • Additional Criteria Specific to Each Award (for these we recommend, reading the descriptions of the award categories.  Additional considerations/criteria for evaluation are included in those descriptions for the specific awards.

One award winner from each system of higher education will be selected for each award category.

Alternative Instructions for Sustainability Champion Awards

The Sustainability Champion Award is the highest level and only individual level award given at the CA Higher Education Sustainability Conference within our Best Practice Awards Program. The Sustainability Champion award is given to an individual person who has been a role model to their peers around the state; has promoted sustainability throughout their campus; achieved results; and who truly embodies the term “leader”. Please refer to the Sustainability Champion website for more details and application instructions.

Please note that individuals can be nominated from private colleges, California State University campuses and University of California campuses.   For California Community Colleges, we will be recognizing the Sustainability Champion already selected by the CCC Board of Governors. 

Requirements/Expectations of Accepted Winners

Award winners are expected to speak at CHESC, July 7th-10th, 2020.  Presentations will be on either July 8th or July 9th. The award ceremony (which is separate from the speaking time slot) will be at lunch on July 8th. Award winners are expected to be present for the award ceremony and will be invited on stage to receive their award. Up to two people can speak per award.  One of those people must be from the campus. All speakers must be listed on the application.