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 fourteenth annual Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practice Awards competition:


Sustainable Food Service

CSU Northridge, CSUN Sustainable Food Systems

CSUN has made remarkable changes to its food landscape, aiming towards a closed-loop food system. To that end, we support multiple food gardens and a pre-consumer food waste recovery program that turns “trash” into compost that helps more food grow. Food waste that is still perfectly edible is recovered by the Food Recovery Network and served to our campus and surrounding community. We are committed to an environmentally responsible and socially just food system.

UC Merced, Bobcat Eats

Bobcat Eats has encouraged the campus constituency to source local, healthy produce, while also building traction toward the campuses effort to house a weekly farmers market. This endeavor aided in satisfying the UC Sustainability Policy requirement that mandates campuses to strive to procure 20% sustainable food products by the year 2020.


Student Sustainability Leadership

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Climate Change Action Research Group: A Student-Led Undergraduate Project Team

The Climate Change Action Research Group was founded at Cal Poly in 2016 to foster meaningful undergraduate research opportunities related to sustainability. An interdisciplinary group of undergraduates have researched student perceptions around climate change, carbon centric major capital planning, efficiency within sustainability initiatives, and several more sustainability topics. Funded through the Honors Program, the group’s findings enable managers and administrators to make more informed decisions regarding campus initiatives and programs.

UC Los Angeles, Student Seminar “Introduction to Sustainable Living: From Fundamentals to Applications”

Undergraduate Student Initiated Education is a program designed to provide selected upperclassmen with the opportunity to develop and facilitate a lower division seminar for their peers for academic credit. My proposal was selected and will help students investigate how daily actions can have a significant impact on the various environments and people all over the world. Throughout the seminar, students will learn how they can reduce their carbon footprint through behavioral assessments, DIY projects, collaborative activities, discussions, and more.

Skyline College, Passing on the Sustainability Baton: Maintaining Student Sustainability Projects

The Skyline College Environmental Club has focused its efforts on supporting and perpetuating student-led sustainability projects on campus. Though a difficult task at a community college where students come and go, the Environmental Club ensures consistency, longevity, and growth of pilot programs initiated by students. Using creative communication avenues, Club members inform fellow students about environmental issues and encourage them to continue use and appreciation of sustainability programs established by their peers.



Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Creating Sustainable Communities- An Interdisciplinary First-Year Honors Experience

The Cal Poly Honors Program currently serves over 500 students from nearly 60 different majors. Students entering the program enroll in “Creating Sustainable Communities”, a year-long course designed for first-year undergraduates. The course focuses on environmental, historical, and social dimensions of sustainability and encourages in-depth discussion of related topics (e.g., research methods, systems thinking, resilience, global perspectives, diversity, inclusion, and social justice). Students in the course work on interdisciplinary teams to complete a service learning project for a community organization.

UC Santa Cruz, The Sustainability Lab at UC Santa Cruz

The UCSC Sustainability Laboratory (S-Lab) is a center for student innovation and leadership both on and off campus. Our facilities and mentorship are geared toward fostering student, faculty, and community ingenuity from project conception to deployment, facilitating a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to sustainable design and development. We welcome and support projects situated in the nexus of renewable energy technologies, urban food systems, and water security. The S-Lab is accessible to students from all disciplines.

Honorable Mention: UC Santa Barbara, UCSB’s LEED Lab Earns Bren Hall its Third Platinum Certification

The students in Brandon Kaysen’s hear-long LEED Lab course at UCSB worked together as a unit to certify Bren Hall under LEED Version 4 for Existing Buidlings, Operations and Maintenance. From implementing new programs and policies to assessing the building’s performance through energy, air quality, cleanliness, transportation, and waste audits, these students collaborated to achieve 93 points out a possible 110 in one of the most rigorous rating systems in the green building field.

Skyline College, The Sustainability Blitz

n recognition of the true interdisciplinary nature of sustainability, Skyline College created a program that aimed to integrate sustainability into the curriculum of each academic department on campus as well as those at other state colleges and universities. The Sustainability Blitz brought recent college graduates in the sustainability field to campus to work alongside faculty members on interdisciplinary curriculum development tailored to the course outline. After program implementation, Skyline College enjoyed success in exposing a number of students to sustainability.


Sustainable Transportation

CSU Northridge, Well That’ll Never Work! Launching a Dockless Bikeshare Program

The start of the Spring 2018 Semester marked the launch of a dockless bike share program at CSU Northridge. Staff from Facilities Planning and Associated Students, along with Associated Students, worked with LimeBike to coordinate the deployment and management of 400 dockless, GPS-enabled bicycles, available to all campus users for just $0.50. The effort came as part of CSUN’s Climate Action Plan, and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by addressing the first-last mile challenge for commuting students and employees.

UC Los Angeles, Air Travel Mitigation Pilot Program

The UC Sustainable Practices Policy encourages strategic programs to offset greenhouse gas emissions from business-related campus air travel. This January, UCLA launched a three year Air Travel Mitigation Pilot Program, becoming one of the first university campuses in the nation to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions by assessing a carbon mitigation fee for business-related campus air travel. Funds will be awarded annually to on-campus projects resulting in lasting, measurable carbon reduction in order to mitigate air travel emissions.

Santa Barbara City College, SBCC Commute

With the main campus only having just under 2,500 parking spaces and over 15,000 stakeholders commuting to and from campus, SBCC Commute was developed in order to reduce parking demand on the main campus. Goals for parking demand reduction are not only in alignment with SBCC’s net zero emissions goals as written in their District Sustainability Plan, but also aid in the commitment to providing access to quality educational programs.


Waste Reduction

Cal Poly San Luis ObispoZero Waste Ambassadors Program: Empowering Students to Shift the Norm

Cal Poly’s Zero Waste Ambassadors Program empowers students to change the norm of the consumer waste stream, successfully engages community members, and consistently diverts 90% of waste to the landfill at select events. With 86 cumulative volunteers to date, the Ambassadors are both environmentally focused student volunteers, and Cal Poly Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) sanctioned students who have reached 7,060 attendees to divert an estimated 2,641.51 lbs from the landfill at 14 events in 3 months.

San Mateo Community College District, SMCCCD Zero Waste Program Campus as a Living Lab

San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD)’s goal is Zero Waste by 2025 and plans on achieving zero waste through waste reduction and diversion programs. Due to limited resources, SMCCCD utilizes innovative collaborative curriculum integration that provide a dual benefits of active learning for students and operational efficiencies for Facilities. Recent Zero Waste Program campus as a living lab projects include Honors College student waste audit, biology class waste diversion and behavior change research, and oceanography class peer-to-peer education.


Water Efficiency & Site Water Quality

UC Los AngelesWater Reclamation in a Dense Urban Research University

UCLA’s award winning water reclamation program saves over 28 million gallons a year from water used in laboratories, air conditioners, and sterilization and other equipment in 25 buildings across campus. This reclaimed water is then used to cool the campus cogeneration plant that provides efficient power to the university. The annual total amount of reclaimed water is expected to increase to 48 million gallons annually over the next few years as the program is expanded to additional buildings.

San Mateo Community College District, SMCCCD Water Efficiency Program & Student Water Audit

SMCCCD’s commitment to sustainability and water conservation is spelled out in their Water Efficiency Program, which organizes existing conservation strategies while identifying gaps of information to further manage and implement water efficiency measures. Due to limited capacity and resources, the District Sustainability team, housed in Facilities, organized a campus as a living lab activity and designed a lecture and lab for students to conduct an indoor campus water audit. Students learned about water resources and gained hands on sustainability experience.


Off Campus Partnerships and Engagement

CSU Monterey BaySustainable City Year Program: a Campus and Regional Governmental Partnership

A rotating partnership has been established between the campus and a regional governing body (often a city, but could be a county, transportation or water agency, or other municipality).  The governing entity proposes sustainability-related projects that it would like to have accomplished, but is unable to as a result of constraints of workload, finance, or expertise. The university matches those projects to classes taught by faculty who have expertise in an area consistent with the needs of the city.

UC MercedCropMobster: Creating Impact by Creating Partnerships and Engaging the Community

CropMobster is a free, County-wide food system website like the Craigslist of food, nutrition and agriculture where community members, farms, businesses and anyone else can post, find and share alerts about anything related to the food system. There are various alert types like events, sales, resources, jobs and much more. By curating partnerships and engaging the community, we aim to reduce food waste, decrease food insecurity, improve farmer and small business sales, grow local leaders and build our community.


Data-Driven Communications Campaign

CSU Dominguez HillsCommuter Sustainability Outreach: Inside the Carbon Cube Thinking

Using National Campus Sustainability Month as a comprehensive outreach opportunity, CSUDH’s Office of Sustainability prepared a five-week long campaign that brought quantifiable sustainability metrics home in ways that would matter most to students, particularly commuters. This included educational activities and partnering with campus entities to help students understand how their sustainability behaviors could positively affect their impacts at home and on campus in measurable ways as well as lead to employment prospects in the green workforce.

UC DavisTrim the Waste with Joules the Cow

Trim the Waste is an educational program designed to empower students and staff to participate in saving energy on campus. The program is a mix of informative content and questionnaires, culminating in participants looking for energy waste in their buildings. In 11 months, the program has engaged over 260 participants, with roughly 40% identifying energy waste. Analysts in the Energy Conservation Office use the results to gauge increased knowledge of energy conservation and to inform future energy saving projects.


Large-Scale Planning

CSU Monterey BayLiving Community Challenge Vision Plan

The Living Community Challenge Vision Plan is the first step in achieving a Living Community Challenge designation. The Living Community Challenge offers a framework for planning efforts to integrate a deep and symbiotic relationship between people, nature and all elements of the built environment.

UC MercedSustainability Strategic Plan

The UC Merced Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability developed UC Merced’s Sustainability Strategic Plan, a multi-faceted/functional planning document that integrates a systemic framework of sustainability standards from institutional policies and planning documents. The framework provides a high-level overview of sustainability goals, metrics, action items, and an implementation strategy that ensures the physical footprint of the campus integrates sustainability through its expansion. The development of this framework defines stakeholder roles and expectations that advance the University’s sustainability achievement.

San Bernardino Community College DistrictDistrictwide Sustainability Program Success – Initiatives, Measurable Goals, Collaborative Actions!

San Bernardino CCDt’s leadership including board of trustees, chancellor, campus presidents, facilities, administration, faculty and students have a great passion towards sustainability. The District developed its sustainability plan in response to its participation with the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The plan establishes seven, which have been considered the cornerstone to the Districtwide sustainability master plan. The large-scale plan provides the road map for the districtwide LEED projects, integrated energy infrastructure projects, energy saving programs and ZNE campuses.


Social Equity and Justice

CSU SacramentoFeeding Knowledge, Filling Bellies: A Community’s Pop Up Pantry

In an attempt to combat food scarcity as a hindrance to the educational process, Sac State has developed a comprehensive program across various departments and university organizations to provide food and nourishment for our students. This interdepartmental effort has created a community encompassing educators, staff, and our residential neighbors to ensure that all Sac State students, especially those lacking the resources to provide themselves with the nourishment needed to pursue their educational goals, have full bellies and fewer worries.

UC Berkeley#Environmentalismsowhite

Campaign directed at addressing the large lack of diversity and inclusion in the environmental community at UC Berkeley as well as the failure of the university’s College of Natural Resources to address the needs of Students of Color on campus. Working with Dean of the college on three main campaign demands: to improve diversity and inclusion efforts in the search, hiring, and tenure processes of faculty, improving environmental justice curriculum, and increasing retention and support for students of color.

Foundation for California Community CollegesAffordable Access, Sustained Connectivity, and the Right to Information

The California Connects Mobile Internet program provides a low cost internet alternative for higher education students and faculty . For $20 a month, we are reducing one more barrier that prevents students from accessing class registrations, online research tools required for coursework, and keeping our most transient populations connected. Ultimately, California Connects is a step towards increasing course completion, and system transfers.  


Energy Efficiency at the Building Level

CSU Long BeachWalter Pyramid LED Lighting Upgrade

CSU Long Beach initiated an energy efficiency project to retrofit the existing inefficient arena metal halide lighting to state of the art dimmable LED lighting with controls saving 333,537 KWH and 122 Metric Tons of CO2e.  The Walter Pyramid LED Lighting Upgrade included retrofits to the Pyramid’s arena lights to state of the art fully dimmable sports LED lighting, installation of digital controls and color changeable LEDs for special effects, and implementation of activity-based dimming scenes for additional energy savings and service life optimization of the LED lighting equipment.

UC IrvineMedical Sciences C Deferred Maintenance and Smart Lab Retrofit

The Med Sci C Major Building Maintenance project was a large deferred maintenance project for a 56,000 sq. ft. medical research laboratory building constructed in 1978. This project used the design-build delivery method.  Deferred maintenance and energy savings bond co-funding to upgrade the building to a Smart Lab, including new mechanical equipment, full digital variable air volume lab controls, room pressure monitors, centralized demand control ventilation, and LED lighting with centralized networked control. This project was commissioned using the SkyFoundry SkySpark platform.


Energy Efficiency at the Campus Level

UC DavisSmall Workspace Air & Remote Monitoring (SWARM)

In the SWARM project, UC Davis deployed simple and flexible internet-connected thermostats and electricity meters to small buildings. The new networks united the small buildings into a centralized system for HVAC scheduling, energy monitoring, and remote troubleshooting. In addition to being scalable in breath, HVAC control and energy monitoring are the infrastructure backbones that allow for other innovative projects. For example, in the first few months after coming online at UC Davis, another energy group leveraged the small building scheduling to test thermal leakage from outside the building. A third group started a HVAC and lighting integration project that would not have otherwise been possible.

San Mateo Community College DistrictSan Mateo Community College District: District-Wide Exterior LED Lighting Upgrade

The San Mateo County Community College District Exterior Lighting Upgrade project consisted of implementing an advanced IoT solution that involved retrofitting 1,300 roadway, walkway, parking lot, and wallpack luminaires to Smart-sensor controlled LED fixtures, connected to the Enlighted Energy Manager analytics tool. This tool has empowered SMCCD to send and receive critical data in real time and conserve energy that would have been wasted in over-lighting.


Renewable Energy

CSU Long Beach4.75 MW Solar Energy Project

By leveraging a Public-Private Partnership (P3) and a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), CSU Long Beach was able to implement the single largest solar power installation in the CSU system as well as the largest in the city of Long Beach. The 4.75 mega-watt project is capable of providing one-third of the campus’ peak daily load while also significantly increasing the campus’ electric vehicle chargers from 4 to 44.

UC Santa BarbaraSolarizing UC Santa Barbara

In 2017 UCSB increased its onsite renewable energy generating capacity tenfold through a multi-site PPA. UCSB now has over 5.3 MW of on-site solar capacity which generates more than one-third of the campus’s peak electrical demand. In 2018 UCSB will complete the installation of an additional 1.2 MW. Together, the completed and planned phases of the project will generate 15% of UCSB’s annual electricity consumption, putting the campus on the right path to meet its Carbon Neutrality goal.

State Center Community College DistrictSCCCD District Wide Solar Initiative

Alternative methods of acquiring electrical utilities seems like a daunting task with expensive upfront costs. However, with rising costs of traditional electricity, SCCCD entered into a power purchase agreement with Forefront, LLC. Under the PPA, ForeFront will finance, design, permit, construct, own, operate and maintain the solar arrays (with option to purchase). In return the District will purchase the solar energy generated by the systems at a specified flat rate, saving the district an estimated $15,853,478.00 dollars over 20 years.


Overall Sustainable Design: New Construction & Major renovations

CSU NorthridgeSustainability Center

The LEED Platinum Sustainability Center is the California State University system’s first completed Zero Net Energy-design building. Funded by the Associated Students and the campus, the project consist of a 3,142 SF office building and a 4,911 SF covered recycling yard where students sort and manage campus recyclables. The office building is designed to be ZNE, with a 24kW PV array, domestic solar hot water system, gray water irrigation, energy efficient lighting/daylighting, and in a pioneering initiative, three composting toilets.

Honorable Mention: CSU Monterey BayJoel and Dena Gambord Business and Information Technology Building

The Joel and Dena Gambord Business and Information Technology Building was designed by HMC Architects and constructed by Rudolph and Sletten, Inc. It is a new (35,000 ASF/58,000 GSF) academic building for the School of Computing and Design and the College of Business. The building includes 522 FTE lecture space, 85 FTE LD laboratory space, 46 FTE UD laboratory space, and 61 faculty offices. The project was designed for LEED Gold certification for new construction but achieved Platinum certification upon completion.

UC MercedClassroom and Office Building 2 – Platinum Certified

Located in the academic core, this three-story LEED Platinum certified classroom and office building opened in 2016 and provides large format general assignment lecture halls, tutorial classrooms, and supporting administrative and academic office space. Designed with some of the newest sustainable technologies and features to date, this building sets a new road map to sustainable design and building construction practices here at UC Merced.

SBCCD Crafton Hills CollegeCrafton Hills College – Sustainability by Design for Facilities Operations

A review of how the LEED building certifications for all new construction projects at SBCCD Crafton Hills College were leveraged to promote sustainable facilities operations. The LEED building certifications alone are not enough to ensure sustainability measures for the campus environments. Campus facilities and operations also needed to revise their strategies to support the campus and lead the drive to a more sustainable campus, i.e., Integrated Pest Control Management Plan, Owners Project Requirements (OPR), and the 2016 Non-Potable Water Project.


Sustainability Innovations

CSU NorthridgeSustainability Center Composting Toilets

The new, LEED Platinum, ZNE Sustainability Center is also a highly water-conserving facility. In addition to a gray water irrigation system, the building users have pioneered the use of 0.05 gpf composting toilets. Wastewater from toilets is reduced by 95%. The building occupants provide a minor amount of maintenance and management, and safe compost is produced every four months or so for use on campus. The presentation will present lessons learned and dish all the dirt that’s fit to share!

UC Los AngelesInnovatively Applying Sustainability Research

UCLA’s Sustainable LA Grand Challenge is a campuswide research initiative launched in 2013 by the Chancellor’s office to transition L.A. County to 100-percent renewable energy, 100-percent local water, and enhanced ecosystem health by 2050. The premise of Sustainable LA is to take world-class research from across disciplines and apply it to thrive in a hotter and more populous Los Angeles in years to come through policy recommendations, technology breakthroughs, and partnerships to demonstrate and implement scalable urban sustainability solutions.


Battery Storage 

CSU Dominguez Hills1MW/4 Hour Battery Storage Installation

Battery storage represents the next step in bridging energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts on any campus. At CSUDH, the campus was able to install a 1MW/4 Hr battery storage unit at almost no upfront cost with significant ongoing savings from peak demand reduction. The installation is one of the largest behind-the-meter projects in Southern California, yet it occupies a campus footprint of less than 2000 square feet while generating approximately $3,000-$7,000 in demand charge savings in any given month.


Private College Case Studies 

Stanford UniversityTechnology to Motivate and Quantify Behavior Change: My Cardinal Green

In today’s increasingly technological and personalized world, sustainability professionals must provide opportunities to engage their community in a way that is relevant for them, while also quantifying the impacts of their behavior to encourage continual action. Stanford has taken the next step in meeting this need with its My Cardinal Green program, which provides personalized recommendations of actions that individuals can perform to help them act more environmentally sustainable, and tracks and rewards progress along the way.

Stanford UniversityStanford’s Sustainable IT Program

Approximately 15% of Stanford’s electricity consumption can be attributed to IT infrastructure. To address this impactful but distributed load, the university formed the Sustainable IT program, which brings together stakeholders from across campus. The program provides resources and rebates to support IT efficiency upgrades. Through work-station audits, smart power strips, and server virtualization and relocation, the Sustainable IT program is currently saving $41,400 in annual energy costs, a number that is growing every year as the program improves and expands.

Loyola Marymount UniversityFood Waste Diversion

Green LMU is working to maximize the diversion of food waste on Loyola Marymount University’s campus. Food waste dehydrators were installed in various campus eateries, and through partnering with Global Green, we educated more than 400 students on food waste diversion. Green LMU is working to install an in-vessel composter and train students to be eco-ambassadors to educate LMU’s student body and faculty on food waste diversion. The eco-ambassador program will be brought to a local low-income community.

Stanford UniversityR&DE Student Housing Green Cleaning Program

Stanford’s R&DE Student Housing has adopted a new green cleaning standard that has reduced chemical usage by 90%. The system engineer’s water by infusing it with ozone to create a solution as effective as traditional chemicals without the environmental or human health consequences. 20% of residences – or 32 buildings, 808k sf, with 29 full-time custodians and 2,509 students benefiting – are now using the system. In 2017 over 350 gallons of chemicals were avoided from being purchased and disposed of.

Multi Campus Partnership Award

Skyline College, Butte College, College of Marin, UC Merced, CSU Bakersfield, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont McKenna College, Mt. San Antonio College, Orange Coast College, UC Irvine, College of the Desert, UC San Diego, and Southwestern CollegeEnergize Colleges: Innovating for Sustainability Education and Careers

In a changing physical, economic, and political climate, building resilient systems is now more critical than ever. Energize Colleges, a California ratepayer-funded pilot program, has served as a catalyst for 12 campuses (seven of which are community colleges) participating in this innovative approach to student applied learning focused on sustainability energy career pathways. Two- and four-year campuses formed a network to share their experiences to tailor this vanguard program model to be relevant and self-sustaining for each institution.