Home Resources SSI News UC Sustainability Efforts Praised - April 30, 2010
UC Sustainability Efforts Praised - April 30, 2010


By Harry Mok

Campus sustainability efforts at Berkeley, Irvine, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz were among the winners of Best Practice Awards given out by the UC/CSU/IOU Energy Efficiency Partnership Program.

The awards highlight successful and cost-effective projects on University of California, California State University and state community college campuses that implement sustainable design strategies and energy-efficient operations, water conservation, sustainable foodservices, waste reduction and student-run sustainability programs.

The awards will be presented at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, which is being held at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College from June 20-23.

The UC/CSU/IOU Energy Efficiency Partnership Program, which funds the awards, is a statewide collaboration between the UC system, the CSU system, the California Community Colleges and the state's four large investor-owned utilities. The program's goals include conservation and establishing a framework for comprehensive energy management programs at the campuses.

Here are descriptions of award-winning programs and projects from UC campuses:

Overall Sustainable Design
UC Irvine Medical Education Building: The project design team divided Medical Education Building into two zones: one for instruction, the other for offices, meeting rooms and other non-technical purposes. The instructional portion of the building is mechanically heated and cooled, while the non-instructional portion of the building takes advantage of Irvine's mild climate and relies on natural ventilation. This innovative design strategy allowed the project team to exceed energy code requirements by 28 percent and provide an additional 23 percent of usable space within the original program budget.

UC San Diego Health Sciences RF2 (honorable mention): The building was designed around a goal of providing maximum use of daylight while minimizing glare and solar heat gain. To accomplish this, a combination of fixed shades, dynamic exterior shades, glazing and interior shades was utilized. The shades work with specially designed lab ceilings and daylight sensors that dim interior lights when natural light is available. To reduce potable water consumption, the surrounding landscape will be watered with a blend of condensate from air handling units and concentrate reject from reverse osmosis equipment.

Lighting Design and Retrofit
UC San Diego Sustainability Resource Center Lighting Project: The retrofit focused on a direct current-direct current (DC-DC) lighting system that integrated solar panels, lighting controls and LED task lighting components as well as natural light, reflective surfaces and photoluminescent exit lighting.

Sustainable Foodservice
UC Santa Barbara Dining Services: Purchasing increasing quantities of local and organic produce, starting a composting program and initiating conservation programs focused on energy, water and waste got the attention of judges. UC Santa Barbara's Dining Services also was recognized for its external outreach and staff training to promote sustainability.

Student Sustainability Programs
UC Santa Barbara PACES: Students in the Program for Assessment and Certification for Environment and Sustainability surveyed 14 departments on campus for ways to improves sustainable practices. The results were used to draft a Sustainable Purchasing Policy and a Climate and Sustainability Action Plan for each department. Additionally, PACES drafts documentation required for LEED green certification of existing buildings.

Monitoring-based Commissioning
UC Berkeley Le Conte Hall: Monitoring-based commissioning is a process where a building's operations are constantly fine-tuned for ways to improve efficiency. Implemented changes at Le Conte included new control sequences for air pumps, new scheduling, new air filtration and repair of a valve leak. The changes helped cut annual energy use by 21 percent.

HVAC Design and Retrofit
UC Irvine Exhaust Stack Discharge Velocity Reduction: Laboratory exhaust systems typically use exhaust stacks with a constant high velocity to ensure proper plume. UC Irvine evaluated the performance of exhaust fans at four buildings using wind tunnel testing to determine the minimum exhaust velocities for safe operation. These exhaust systems were modified to significantly lower the power needed to safely exhaust any possible contamination.

Student Energy Efficiency
UC Santa Cruz Green Campus Program: Interns from the program partnered with Campus Dining staff to implement energy and water conservation efforts in dining halls and kitchens. Green Campus interns created bilingual training DVDs that explained conservation methods in food preparation and storage. The videos were incorporated into regular kitchen staff training. Interns also conducted twice-quarterly inspections to ensure conservation practices were followed. They also collected light-level data that helped convince dining staff to eliminate or reduce artificial light use during the day.

Water Efficiency/Site Water Quality
UC San Diego Clean Water Utility Initiative: The program promoted water efficiency and conservation through a variety of strategies, including lab equipment replacement, irrigations system retrofits, operations changes, aggressive campus standards for new building fixtures and water conservation education. For example, 46 coolant units serving laboratory autoclaves were replaced to save an estimated 16.87 million gallons of potable water per year. Through the initiative, UC San Diego faculty and staff also developed a six-week water seminar, which allowed students to study recycled water, water reuse and storm water management issues by using the campus as a living laboratory. Students and staff also developed a comprehensive water conservation campaign called AQUAholics Anonymous.

UC Santa Barbara San Clemente Ecological Restoration & Stormwater Management Project: A 7-acre series of bioswales and wetlands was created to filter storm water and reduce the risk of flooding. To implement this project, staff partnered with students and faculty in the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration. Faculty and students helped design the project to maximize biological diversity and will continue to collect and analyze data to study its long-term performance.

Innovative Waste Reduction
UC San Diego Toby's Spot Reuse Program: Residents who eat at campus dining halls can take their food to-go using reusable plates, bowls, glasses and flatware. Students return their dishes and flatware to one of several Toby's Spot drop-off sites, located throughout housing neighborhoods. This program cuts waste by reducing the need for disposable dishes, cups and utensils. During the program's first six months, UC San Diego Housing reduced its waste by about 47 tons.

Harry Mok is principal editor in the UC Office of the President's Integrated Communications group. For more information, visit the UC Newsroom or follow us on Twitter.