UC Santa Barbara

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

Past Award Winners

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

Overall Sustainable Design- New Construction and Major Renovations

San Jose State University, SJSU Student Health and Wellness Center

The San Jose State University Student Health and Wellness Center was designed to utilize sustainable design features to enhance building performance while providing a comfortable environment in which to address student health care needs. Design features included passive solar heating, recycled building materials, low-maintenance landscaping, daylight management systems, dual plumbing, and dimmable lighting controls. Estimated annual savings include 600,000 gallons of water, 229,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, and $50,000 in utility costs. The building was designed based on input from student focus group and campus staff members.

UC Irvine, Mesa Court Towers

Mesa Court Towers exemplifies sustainable construction on campus while providing a unique sense of place and community for student residents. Outstanding features include bike parking, zero waste dining, water refill stations, and high energy efficiency in design. The committee was impressed by considerable design attention paid to energy efficiency through features such as solar hot water panels, dual window coverings, vacancy sensors, full LED lighting, and green roofing. The project also produces high energy savings of estimated 1,000,000 kilowatt-hours a year while producing 91,000 kilowatt-hours annually via installed solar photovoltaic panels. These solar panels avoid an estimated 48,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

HVAC Design/Retrofit And Commissioning

CSU Dominguez Hills, Welch Hall and Student Health Center Smart Valves Retrofit

For this chilled water valve retrofit demonstration project at Welch Hall and the Student Health Center, CSU Dominguez Hills partnered with Southern California Edison, Belimo, and Ecovox to pilot new Smart Valve technology. The improved valves offer greater valve control and data feedback, resulting in significant efficiency savings for both buildings. Estimated annual savings include 164,000 kilowatt-hours across all six units for a combined utility budget savings of $19,600. This provides for 11% cost savings for the Student Health Center and 22% savings for Welch Hall in chilled water usage.

UC San Diego, Atkinson Hall Monitoring Based Commissioning

The Atkinson Hall Monitoring Based Commissioning project identified electricity and water savings using pre-functional testing, functional testing, and trend analysis. Implemented measures included mechanical repairs, improvements such as dedicated cooling for the photonics lab, and programming upgrades such as pressure and temperature resets on the hot water loop. The estimated annual project savings include 3.5 million kilowatt-hours, 110,000 therms of gas, and $375,000 in combined utility costs. The project exemplifies the benefits of Monitoring Based Commissioning with these combined savings and improvements.

Energy Efficiency In Existing Buildings: Lighting Design/Retrofit

CSU Sacramento, Mendocino Hall Pilot LED Lighting Retrofit Project with Advanced Lighting Controls

The Medocino Hall Pilot LED Lighting Retrofit Project consisted of retrofitting 333 lighting fixtures across the building. Mendocino Hall was chosen for the project because it was typical of academic buildings and provided replicable energy retrofit opportunities. In addition, advanced lighting controls using a web interface were employed, offering greater control, efficiency, and insight into maintenance issues. The expected annual energy savings for this project are 213,000 kWh with an annual avoided cost of $22,000. The committee was impressed by the project’s pairing of LED retrofitting with a leading edge project performance and control system.

UC Santa Barbara, Student Affairs and Administrative Services Building Advanced Lighting and Controls Project

This advanced lighting and controls project consisted of retrofitting 704 interior light fixtures to LED. Additionally, the retrofit included a wireless networked lighting control system with motion, ambient light, and temperature sensing capability and customizable fixture-level dimming control. Completed energy savings exceed 60% of previous consumption and are estimated at 171,000 kilowatt-hours and $19,000 annually. The committee was impressed by the deep efficiency approach taken for this project to optimize energy and lighting use.

Water Efficiency/Site Water Quality

CSU Northridge, Campus-Wide Irrigation Efficiency Project

Building on standard campus water conservation measures, CSU Northridge upgraded 62 campus irrigation controllers with bi-directional communication capabilities, evapotranspiration, weather station connectivity, flow sensors, master valves, and integration with a live system status display. By choosing to retrofit over replacing the entire system, the university was able to ensure both water and financial savings while progressing towards its water use conservation goals. Centralized data displays allow ground staff to better pinpoint leakages and issues while providing a valuable learning tool for geography information systems students. Estimated annual savings from the project include over $150,000 in water costs and a significant portion of the 55 million gallons of water saved annually at the university through combined water measures.

UC San Francisco, Bulk Sterilizer Upgrade

The UCSF Bulk Sterilizer Upgrade consisted of the replacement of two inefficient bulk sterilizers identified based on water metering data. The project took place in a sensitive research area, which required extensive communication and coordination to minimize disruption during the installation process. The annual estimated savings of the project include 12 million gallons of water and $275,000 in water utilities. The committee was impressed by the replicability of the project, especially given its sensitive placement, as well as its demonstration of the financial efficacy of high-priority water efficiency projects.

Innovative Waste Reduction

Humboldt State University, Food Recovery: Addressing the Food Insecurity and Climate Disruption Nexus

For the Food Recovery project, Humboldt State University increased its efforts to address food insecurity and minimize waste in response to a study in which a fifth of California State University students reported concern about hunger and food access. Through the Oh Snap program, university staff built campus and community partnerships to increase nutritious, affordable, and culturally appropriate food for students. Related food recovery program efforts included reduction of food over-preparation with Dining Services, donation of leftover food to campus food pantry, edible gardening classes, food waste diversion to local worm farm, and deployment of a phone app for students that directed them towards free leftover food from campus events. Almost 13,000 students have accessed the Oh Snap program in the past two years.

UC Los Angeles, A Collaborative Approach to Waste Management: Leveraging Campus Partnerships to Solve Operational Challenges

This residential waste diversion project received recognition for its outstanding utilization of collaborative project design and community engagement to facilitate behavioral shift within university spaces. As a partnership effort between UCLA Housing Operations and Residential Life, the project successfully rolled out an organic waste collection program across all residential halls, reaching 14,000 UCLA students. Waste training was added to fall residential orientation, compost bins were included in community and private living spaces, and new waste signage ensured ease of practice. As a result of the program, residential diversion rates increased 65% and an estimated $80,000 was saved annually through right-sizing waste liners.

Honorable Mention: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Zero Waste – Cooperation Makes it Happen

As universities work to reduce waste and shift streams from landfill to recycling and compost, it is important to adjust hauler contracts and incentives to align with the university’s waste goals. This project, led by the campus Zero Waste Collaborative, renegotiated recycling pricing structures with the campus waste hauler to encourage diversion and applied the new agreement for implementation of a campus-wide Housing Zero Waste Plan. Estimated annual program benefits include 600,000 pounds of waste reduced and $100,000 in collection cost savings.

Student Sustainability Leadership

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Inspiring Action Early: 2016 Student Sustainability Leadership Summit

As a collaboration between the university Green Campus Team and Campus Sustainability Staff, the Student Sustainability Leadership summit was organized to convene and equip students with the tools and resources to promote sustainability across campus. Topics included community organizing, campaign planning, effective communication, creating inclusive spaces, and team management. The two-day planning event engaged 30 student club leaders representative of 300 students as well as 15 staff and faculty members. The Summit offered valuable collaboration for student and university departments in advance of project implementation and provided students with a space to discuss how to focus their energy in the year ahead.

Sustainable Food Systems

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Campus Dining: Sustainable Dining to Reduce the University’s Footprint

This ambitious, campus-wide program worked to address campus sustainability goals while building partnerships with stakeholders sharing common goals. Information sharing and building effective partnerships were both keys to its success. Efforts included expanding local food providers, reducing packaging, convening a campus wide food forum, and producing innovative outreach materials. Cal Poly program messaging throughout the campaign garnered almost 2 million views by campus community members, reaching the entire campus community, and program impact included 3.4 million gallons of water and 200,000 pounds of cardboard averted.

Sustainable Transportation

CSU Northridge, CSUN / Metro U-Pass – An Alternative to Transportation Collaboration

In an effort to increase college student transit ridership, CSU Northridge partnered with LA Metro to streamline student access to discount transit passes. Campus departments subsidized the resulting U-Passes which were sold to students, with three times as many purchased compared to previous semesters. By lowering barriers for students, university staff enabled them to shift to transit for trips to campus with little hassle or cost. This low cost program demonstrates the efficacy of addressing barriers to behavior change through forging effective community partnerships.

UC San Diego, Replicable Electric Vehicle Affordability and Charging Accessibility Strategy for UC Students, Staff, and Faculty

As the automotive market shifts towards electric vehicles and universities strive to meet their own and California’s zero emissions vehicle goals, affordable access to vehicles and charging are keys to success. This project offers a sustainable, replicable business model for Electric Vehicle Support Equipment concurrent with enabling affordable Zero Emission Vehicles for fleet, workplace, commuter, and public use at UC San Diego and other UC campuses. By supporting “evergreen” fleet purchase and lease prices with major electric vehicle carmakers and constructing necessary on-campus charging stations, the project eliminates barriers and incentivizes students, staff, and faculty to participate. Estimated impact from 300 fleet purchases so far has resulted in 2.75 million averted pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Sustainability Innovations

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Creative Solutions for Large Scale Renewables

For The Creative Solutions for Large Scale Renewables program, the university used an innovative local renewable energy construction scheme to facilitate cost effective renewable energy generation on campus. The program allowed the university to bypass space, infrastructure, and export restriction limitations to generate development of a renewable energy project offsite but within local government jurisdiction that connected directly to the campus grid. The estimated generation from the resulting project system is 11.3 kilowatt-hours annually, approximately a quarter of the university’s total needs. Total utility savings over the twenty year power providing period are estimated at $26.8 million dollars. The committee felt this project was outstanding in both its novel approach to navigating utility rules and campus generation restrictions as well as its commitment to integrate the finished system into campus coursework.

UC Santa Cruz, UCSC’s People of Color Collective: Practicing Inclusive Sustainability

The result of a groundbreaking collaboration between the UCSC Sustainability Office, Ethnic Resource Centers, and Colleges Nine and Ten, the People of Color Collective has created and promulgated an innovative framework of inclusive sustainability that works to expand the definitional boundaries of sustainability to include diverse cultural interpretations and practices. Through education and outreach events, including workshops, speaking events, digital campaigns, and student retreats, the People of Color Collective has broadened the discussion of sustainability to consider the historic contributions of people of color, different approaches to caring for the environment, and the unique agency and perspectives that the diverse body of students brings to the conversation.  To date, the Collective has directly engaged with over 1,200 people. The committee was especially impressed by replicability of this initiative as well as how it expands the boundaries of sustainability in higher education.

Honorable Mention: UC Davis, A Homegrown App for Crowdsourcing Energy and Comfort Data Across Campus

This project was recognized for its innovative approach to tackling energy waste and thermal comfort across a campus of over one thousand buildings. By crowdsourcing perceived room comfort using a simple phone app (TherMOOstat), facilities staff were better able to determine the efficiency of heating and ventilation services across campus and pinpoint potential opportunities for savings and improvement. The phone app has received 15,000 user responses since its launch in 2014 and provided staff with a valuable tool by which to respond to student comfort needs and better educate the campus on how buildings operate.

Sustainability in Academics: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

CSU Fresno, Implementation of Sustainability in Engineering Literacy and Pedagogy for Liberal Studies Majors with STEM Concentration

Engineering Literacy and Pedagogy is a three-unit combined laboratory and lecture course that fills a need for improved science learning experience for future elementary teachers using sustainability. In the course, students experience the development of an engineering project from inception to deployment in order to gain a critical understanding of how engineering solutions work across multidisciplinary constraints. As of 2017, the first class of 40 college students has completed this course and begun to implement sustainability into their K-6 classrooms. The course demonstrates how to integrate sustainability concepts into teaching curricula while modeling research-based and inquiry-oriented science pedagogy.

Sustainability in Academics: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

CSU Fullerton, The Urban Agriculture Community-Based Research Experience (U-ACRE) Project

The U-ACRE Project provides selected students with valuable experiential learning opportunities that address sustainability in the context of food security while working with community partners.  Students complete internships, mentor other students, and work with faculty on interdisciplinary teams to generate innovative approaches to regional food security issues. Since its inception, U-ACRE has supported over 50 students, 100 clients of non-profits, and 3,000 K-8 students. This project is outstanding in its demonstration of best practices in integrating sustainability and action research into the curriculum by emphasizing high impact practices through experiential learning and community engagement.

The Sustainability Champion award will be announced at the Best Practice Awards Ceremony during the conference.