To support the University’s zero-waste goal, UC San Diego developed new guidelines for hosting zero-waste events and worked with departments and organizations to implement them.

With more than 3,500 staff members attending, the 2019 Staff Association’s Annual Staff Summer Celebration became UC San Diego’s largest zero-waste event, achieving a 97.4% diversion rate. The Housing • Dining • Hospitality Department, which hosted its annual WellFest with 1,000 students, achieved a 99% diversion rate, and the Annual Staff Association Holiday Breakfast, with 1,500 staff members, attained 94%. 

Recovering leftover food from campus events not only reduces waste, but it helps to support students who experience food insecurity. Student Affairs launched a food notification app to alert students when free food is available after department events, giving students another resource in addition to the Triton Food Pantry, which served nearly 5,000 students in fiscal year 2019-20.

The Condensate Recovery Project, completed in July 2019, captures condensation from air conditioning systems in four large buildings. The collected water is pumped into the campus reclaimed water distribution system for nonpotable use, including landscape irrigation, to save roughly 4 million gallons of water annually. 

Transportation Services expanded its pay-by-plate program for all pay stations via the Parkmobile app. Using license plates as parking credentials allows compliance staff to verify fee payments electronically. The license plate becomes the parking permit and eliminates the need to produce, ship and distribute plastic and paper permits. The app also allows customers to extend payment remotely.

UC San Diego quickly adapted to the campus closure fueled by the pandemic by transitioning to remote work. It hosted the 12th Annual Sustainability Awards ceremony virtually to honor outstanding individuals and groups in addition to highlighting green certification programs. The Green Labs Program team continued to certify labs virtually and celebrated a milestone by certifying UC San Diego’s 100th lab.


Bags of food ready for distribution in a van at UC San Diego

Providing Food for Students in Need During the Pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit campus in March 2020, several groups, including the Triton Food Pantry, the Student Sustainability Collective and the Food Recovery Network, came together to ensure that students maintained food security during the closure.  The Triton Food Pantry continued to recover food from local grocery stores and harvested produce from campus community […]


Line graph depicting emissions levels between 2009 and 2019, with projected goals through 2025, and split into two categories. Scopes 1+2 decreased from 209,603 metric tons CO₂e in 2009 to 179,965 metric tons CO₂e by 2019, with a goal of 0 emissions by 2025. Scopes 1+2+3 decreased from 274,831 metric tons CO₂e in 2009 to 260,540 metric tons CO₂e by 2019, with a goal of 0 emissions by 2050.

Metric tons CO₂e in Thousands


Bar graph depicting Renewable Electricity Generation levels, split into four categories: On-Campus Systems (23,526.1 Mwh/year), Off-Campus Contracts (0 Mwh/year), Off-Campus Opt-in Utility Programs (0 Mwh/year), and Off-Campus UC Wholesale Power Program (58,084.5 Mwh/year).



Line graph depicting energy use intensity (EUI) between 2011 and 2019, split into two categories: EUI Target and EUI Actual. EUI Actual has remained under the EUI Target goal until 2019 when it rose slightly above the target goal.

EUI (kBtu/Sqft)

UC San Diego and UC San Diego Health continued to make strides in their efforts to use alternative transportation methods and support the use of electric vehicles in 2020

Riding a bike icon

of UCSD employees and students, including those at UCSD Health, are utilizing alternative commuting methods

Electric vehicle charing station icon

EV charging stations at this location for 2019-2020, including the UC San Diego Health System

Electric vehicle with charger icon

of light-duty vehicles acquired at UCSD and UCSD Health in 2020 were electric (zero-emission) and hybrid vehicles


Stacked bar graph depicting average water usage for FY 2019-2020. The water usage reduction goal for 2025 has already been exceeded.

Thousands of gallons per capita


Bar graph depicting waste generated between 2016 and 2020, split between three categories: Recycle, Organics, and Landfill. During this period, Landfill decreasing slightly, Recycling decreasing slightly, and Organics decreasing significantly.



Line graph depicting total waste diverted between 2011 and 2020, split into Diversion rate (no C&D) – Calculated and Calculated Diversion rate (MSW+C&D). Diversion rate (no C&D) in 2020 was 43%, and Calculated Diversion rate in 2019 was 58%, with a goal of 90%.


UC San Diego continues to set ambitious goals, with a goal for 2030 of 25% spend on sustainable food and beverages.

Salad bar zoomed in on bowl of spinach image

total spend on food and beverages


of food and beverage purchases met sustainability criteria in fiscal year 2019-20

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green spend on indoor office furniture

Cleaning supplies in a bucket with a leaf

green spend
on cleaning supplies

Desktop computer and smart phone icon

green spend on electronics

UC San Diego’s goals for procurement include 25% green spend on electronics and indoor office furniture, and 75% green spend on cleaning supplies.

Green building

UC San Diego received 2 Gold LEED certifications in 2020.

4 Platinum, 25 Gold, 12 Silver and 2 Certified

Total number of LEED certifications
Sustainable Building & Laboratory Operations
Two laboratory beakers with stems with leaves coming out the top

total assessed research labs

UC San Diego has met the goal of assessing three labs.


UC San Diego was the proud recipient of an AASHE STARS Gold rating in 2020.

A full list of awards is here.