UCI Tops List of Green US Colleges
Wednesday, September 04, 2019
For the fourth time in six years, University of California, Irvine (UCI) was named as the most environmentally sustainable college in the United States by a Sierra magazine ranking that considers curriculum, research and on-campus practices.
This year, 282 colleges in the U.S. and Canada vied in the “Cool Schools” ranking as ranked by the Sierra Club publication. In the announcement, only Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia finished ahead of UCI, which is the sole college to make the list’s top 10 for each of the past 10 years.
“We’re continually impressed with (UCI’s) commitment to modeling, teaching and embodying excellent environmental stewardship in all areas,” said Katie O’Reilly, a Sierra’s adventure and lifestyle editor. “The Anteaters are truly standouts in this increasingly important space.”
The magazine singled out UCI for five recent initiatives:
- It has increased the number of electric vehicle charging stations to 225 — including its campus and the UCI Medical Center — and now has more than any other college in the 10-campus University of California system.
- Working with the Irvine Ranch Water District, the school is using recycled water to cool its central plant, which provides heating and cooling to much of the campus. By replacing potable water, the treated-wastewater operation saves more than 80 million gallons of drinking water annually.
- Sierra applauds the campus for its 17 certified green buildings. However, the university notes it now has 18 such buildings and has several more going through the certification process, which is overseen by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design organization based on energy and water savings, minimal waste and human health.
- A pilot project is installing insulation retrofits and solar panels in low-income communities, including Huntington Beach’s Oak View neighborhood.
- With tropical diseases spreading because of climate change, UCI researchers are modifying medical curriculum so students will be better prepared to deal with the evolving situation.
UCI’s sustainability efforts have also been acknowledged by the Sustainable Campus Index, a project of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The school topped the 2018 index list for doctoral institutions and for sustainable buildings.
UCI traces its environmental stewardship to chemistry professor and Nobel laureate F. Sherwood Roland, who began teaching at the school in 1964 and is best known for establishing that chlorofluorocarbons contribute to ozone depletion.
“We are seen as a university that moves from research discoveries to solutions with determination, and our sustainability innovations are being adopted across the nation and now in other countries,” said Wendell Brase, UCI associate chancellor for sustainability.
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