UC Santa Cruz made major advances toward meeting the systemwide 2025 carbon neutrality goal with the construction of its largest renewable energy system through a power purchase agreement.

A new 2.1-megawatt photovoltaic array located at the East Remote Parking Lot will replace approximately 20% of grid-purchased electricity, or just over 6% of the campus’s total electrical load. This equates to greenhouse gas reductions of 767 megatons of CO2e, or 2.6% of UCSC’s scope 1 and 2 emissions. This large array will provide covered parking while saving the University approximately $6 million over the array’s 20-year lifetime. 

UCSC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellows developed an energy and emissions roadshow and promoted multiple energy conservation measures, such as the Million LED Challenge and the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge, which will continue to help educate the campus community and support carbon neutrality in the long term.

Several transportation accomplishments continue to chip away at UCSC’s scope 1 emissions. Out of 17 purchased light-duty fleet vehicles, the campus purchased 10 zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and two hybrids — the most sustainable year of purchases yet. Fleet Services received a $20,000 UCSC Carbon Fund grant to subsidize the purchase of the next five ZEVs. Additionally, Transportation and Parking Services worked with the City of Santa Cruz Metro to establish express bus routes, allowing for better service and increased ridership across campus.

In addition to working on carbon neutrality, the campus elevated the significance of resilience and adaptation planning. UCSC conducted a preliminary resilience assessment across campus, formally incorporated the topic within the work of the Risk Intelligence committee and briefed campus leadership. The campus also identified potential areas of partnership with the City of Santa Cruz Climate Action Program to continue exploring future climate impacts throughout the local community and across the region.


Diverse panel of students and alumni giving a talk at UC Santa Cruz

Supporting Underserved Student and Community Populations

UC Santa Cruz ranked as the fourth best university in the country for social mobility, according to the 2020 U.S. News and World Report rankings. In 2020, the campus will educate more than 5,700 students from low-income backgrounds.  Compelled by values of social justice and equity, UC Santa Cruz rose to the challenge COVID-19 presented […]

UC Santa Cruz entrance sign

Zero Waste Solutions That Comply with COVID-19 Health and Safety Practices

UC Santa Cruz’s Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) department pursued creative solutions to support sustainability while implementing effective health and safety practices in response to COVID-19. With just a few days to roll out options to essential employees before the campus shut down, it would have been easy for zero waste activities to fall by […]


Line graph depicting emissions levels between 2009 and 2019, with projected goals through 2025, and split into two categories. Scopes 1+2 decreased from 38,773 metric tons CO₂e in 2009 to 29,298 metric tons CO₂e by 2019, with a goal of 0 emissions by 2025. Scopes 1+2+3 decreased from 72,954 metric tons CO₂e in 2009 to 57,873 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 (252.6 Mwh/year), Off-Campus Contracts (0 Mwh/year), Off-Campus Opt-in Utility Programs (0 Mwh/year), and Off-Campus UC Wholesale Power Program (12,349.8 Mwh/year).



Line graph depicting energy use intensity (EUI) between 2016 and 2019, split into two categories: EUI Target and EUI Actual. EUI Actual remained under the EUI Target goal until 2019 when it rose above the target goal.

EUI (kBtu/Sqft)

UC Santa Cruz continued to make strides in its efforts to use alternative transportation methods and support the use of electric vehicles in 2020.

Riding a bike icon

of UCSC employees are utilizing alternative commuting methods

Electric vehicle charing station icon

EV charging stations at this location for 2019-2020

Electric vehicle with charger icon

of light-duty vehicles acquired 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 remained consistent, Recycling decreased significantly, and Organics decreased 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). In 2020, both were at 51%, with a goal of 90%.


UC Santa Cruz 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

Desk Chair icon

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

Green building

UC Santa Cruz’s total LEED certifications speak to its commitment to sustainability.

7 Gold, 6 Silver and 1 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 Santa Cruz has met the goal of assessing three labs.


UC Santa Cruz was the proud recipient of an AASHE STARS Gold rating in 2020.

A full list of awards is here.