With the announcement today of Sierra magazine’s 2017 “Cool Schools” ranking, the University of California, Irvine becomes the only campus to score in the top 10 for eight consecutive years. UCI rated eighth this year on the strength of its green energy and eco-friendly transportation programs, water conservation efforts, innovation, and sustainability-related academic and co-curricular student activities.
“Once again, UCI’s inclusion among the top 10 ‘Cool Schools’ reflects our commitment to being a national model of how to be responsible and innovative environmental stewards in the 21st century,” said Wendell Brase, associate chancellor for sustainability. “Our research continues to make a global impact, and our federally-recognized energy efficiency innovations are being adopted across the nation and now in other countries.”
UCI topped all other schools in the transportation category. The campus is poised to be the first in the nation to convert its buses to an all-electric fleet. The student-funded and -operated Anteater Express shuttle service has acquired 20 buses, which this fall will join a hydrogen electric bus to provide more than 2 million pollution-free rides annually.
And UCI continues to set the pace with implementing cutting-edge energy efficiency technology. The campus uses sensors to make 430,000 measurements of energy use, indoor air quality and building system performance every five seconds. This results in unparalleled precision control and maximum efficiency in energy use, which has been reduced by more than 50 percent for the entire campus.
Other strengths include:
- Water conservation: Aiming to greatly expand its use of recycled water, UCI has partnered with the Irvine Ranch Water District to convert the school’s central cooling plant to an environmentally friendly system that will conserve more than 50 million gallons of drinkable water per year.
- Co-curricular and engagement activities: UCI Sustainability promotes collaboration with diverse communities on and off campus in developing solutions to sustainability challenges affecting California and the world. And on Aug. 25-27, UCI will host the fifth annual Student Institute for Sustainability Leadership, in which a select cohort of incoming freshmen and transfer students will participate in a residential, experiential learning program that enables them to hit the ground running when they arrive on campus as next-generation sustainability and social justice student leaders.
- Research: More than 200 faculty members are engaged in research relating to climate change and sustainability issues. Subjects range from understanding the impact of climate change-related flooding to revealing the dire health risks of rising temperatures and prolonged heat waves in equatorial regions. On the home front, researchers are helping to craft flood preparation strategies in Newport Beach and Tijuana.
Sierra magazine, the official publication of the Sierra Club, initiated the college sustainability rankings in 2007 because – as the biggest purchasers and employers in many communities – campuses can create demand for eco-friendly services and products and lead by example. This year’s “Cool Schools” ranking, the 11th, assessed a record 227 participants.
“We congratulate UCI for their impressive track record with Sierra magazine’s ‘Cool Schools’ rankings,” said Editor-in-Chief Jason Mark. “This is the eighth consecutive year that UC Irvine has appeared in the top 10 list, a first for Sierra. UCI has demonstrated year after year that they are committed to creating a sustainable future for their students, and we’re thrilled to recognize their achievement again this year.”