University of California-Santa Barbara Comprehensive Sustainability Plan

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Type: Policy

Status: Announced on 4/21/08

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On the eve of Earth Day, the University of California, Santa Barbara is announcing its adoption of a comprehensive Campus Sustainability Plan designed to make significant contributions to energy conservation, resource management, and environmental awareness – as well as to education and research – on the UCSB campus and beyond.

The plan has been formally approved by UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang, who, in an e-mail message to the campus community issued today, said the Campus Sustainability Plan "will serve as both the long-term vision and a blueprint for our campus's sustainability efforts." The plan's mission statement says that UC Santa Barbara "is committed to global leadership for sustainability through education, research, and action."

Developed as a "living document" that will be updated on a regular basis, the plan was drafted by the Campus Planning Committee's 17-member Subcommittee on Sustainability, chaired by Marc Fisher, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Design and Facilities. The group worked in consultation with a broad-based coalition of some 75 campus "change agents" representing the faculty, staff, and students. "Our students have made an enormous contribution in raising awareness of the importance of sustainability on our own campus as well as in the entire UC system and the broader community," said Yang.

In addition, scientists and other scholars in UCSB's Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, the Marine Science Institute, Department of Environmental Studies, and Department of Geography, among other units, made important contributions to the plan.

Yang said that the mission, goals, and objectives articulated in the plan "will confirm our international leadership role in this critically important area and provide the necessary framework for our continued success."

UC Santa Barbara has long been a leader in environmental education and sustainable practices. The U.S. Green Building Council named UCSB's Bren Hall the greenest classroom and laboratory building in the country when it opened in 2002. In 2004, the campus adopted a Green Building Policy and committed to constructing and operating both new and existing campus buildings to meet very high sustainability standards. In addition, the campus's proposed new Long Range Development Plan embraces sustainability, incorporating green building practices, the use of sustainable materials, water reuse, alternative transportation, energy efficiency, and other actions.

Illustrating how the campus is committed to being a living example of the principles of sustainability, the new Campus Sustainability Plan provides a roadmap for major steps toward achieving sustainability over the next 20 years. It identifies nine functional areas and proposes recommendations, goals, objectives, and benchmarks for each at varying points over the next two decades. The plan's vision includes the development and utilization of emerging technologies while balancing economics with social and environmental impacts.

The goals articulated in the UCSB plan are interconnected and consistent with University of California systemwide sustainability goals as stated in the UC Green Building and Clean Energy Policy. According to the plan's Executive Summary, UC Santa Barbara is positioned both within the UC system and nationally to take a leadership role in the integration of sustainability into higher education via learning, discovery, and operations. In addition to the "greening" of campus structures, UCSB already has made significant strides in adopting sustainable practices in several other areas, including purchasing, facility maintenance, and accountability for overall greenhouse gas emissions.

The sustainability plan provides a clear linkage between campus operations and the academic experience of UCSB undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty research and community stewardship.

The sustainability plan's stated goals and objectives over the next 20 years, by area of activity, are as follows:

Academics and Research: Promote education and research on the social, economic, and environmental impacts of sustainability by building community, student, faculty, and staff awareness.

Built Environment: Create superior places to study, work and live that enhance the health and performance of building occupants through sustainable planning, design, construction, operations, retrofits and biomimicry.

Energy: Strive to be a climate neutral campus through energy efficiency, conservation, on-site generation and strategic procurement of clean and renewable energy.

Food: Strive to develop a local and organic closed-loop food system by observing sustainability criteria for all food purchasing, preparation and service, cleaning, waste disposal, and purchase of equipment and supplies.

Landscape/Biotic Environment: Protect and maintain the natural campus environment through restoration, preservation, and education while enhancing the campus as a classroom. This includes recreational areas, building landscapes and native habitat.

Procurement: Employ efficient procurement strategies, processes, and systems for the acquisition and responsible use of resources in a manner that supports a "triple bottom line" of economy, society, and environment.

Transportation: Develop transportation strategies that reduce fuel use, air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions while providing opportunities for alternative transportation including bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

Waste: Reduce and ultimately eliminate waste streams on campus with the ultimate goal of a net zero waste campus through implementation of "cradle to cradle" processes and practices.

Water: Reduce potable water use while protecting and conserving all water resources within the campus watershed through implementation of efficiency measures, collection technologies, re-processing and re-use.

A link to the plan's Executive Summary and more information about both the plan and the campus's sustainability activities can be found on UCSB's sustainability Web site:

Implementation of the plan is the responsibility of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services, Ron Cortez.

Chancellor Yang also plans to appoint a special task force, as recommended in the plan submitted to him. That panel – the Campus Committee for Sustainability – will advise and make recommendations on sustainability initiatives, help prioritize and monitor campus sustainability goals, set funding priorities, and provide guidance on sustainability issues and questions, among other things.

"The Campus Sustainability Plan is a truly collaborative endeavor," said Chancellor Yang, "and an exciting milestone in our continuing efforts to create a more sustainable future for UC Santa Barbara."