In 2022, UC Merced successfully achieved an Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (AASHE STARS) Platinum rating for its environmental performance. 

UC Merced was also highlighted in the 2022 Sustainable Campus Index SCI for the Pop-up People’s Pantry. The pantry partners with UC Merced’s Bobcat Eats Food Waste Awareness and Prevention Program and the 18th Street People’s Garden. The Pop-Up People’s Pantry is unique compared to typical campus food pantries because it targets both students and community members in helping to reduce food insecurity and food waste in the Merced community. 

UC Merced made the following rankings: Princeton Review’s Top 50 Green Colleges for 2022, Sierra Club’s Top 20 Coolest Schools 2021 and EcoWatch’s Greenest College Campuses in the U.S. for 2022.


Student organizing fruits and vegetables outside building on campus

Campus Awarded Edible Food Recovery Grant

UC Merced’s Office of Sustainability’s Bobcat Eats Food Waste Awareness and Prevention Program, in partnership with United Way of Merced, Community Initiatives 4 Collective Impact and the 18th Street People’s Garden, has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).


A graph depicting emissions over time shows UC Merced emitted 4,103 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2021, with 4,103 metric tons of scope 3 net emissions.

Metric Tons CO₂e in Thousands

2021 data will be finalized after verification by a third party by early 2023.

UC Merced had set an aggressive goal to achieve climate neutrality for scopes 1 and 2 sources by 2020. In 2021, UC Merced operations ramped up with a return to in-person instruction. The campus is assessing its energy performance with the onset of increased building occupancy. Scope 3 emissions are estimated and will be refined as additional information is gathered to provide a full spectrum of campus behavior.


A graph depicts renewable energy use over time. UC Merced used 25,721 megawatt-hours from the off-campus UC wholesale power program and 9,124 megawatt-hours from on-campus systems.

Mwh/Year in Thousands


A line graph depicts energy use intensity over time. The energy use intensity at UC Merced in 2021 of 83.97 British thermal units used per square foot was above the annual target of 71.17.

EUI (kBtu/Sqft)

UC Merced saw an increase in its EUI in the calendar year 2021.



of food and beverage purchases met sustainability criteria ($1.3M)


of food and beverage purchases were plant-based ($1.3M)

Dining services had limited offerings due to COVID-19 restrictions. Invoices could not be retrieved from two vendors, so both were assumed to be neither plant-based nor sustainable.

Green building

19 Platinum, 10 Gold and 2 Silver

Total number of LEED certifications



green spend on electronics (50%)

green cleaning supplies

green spend on cleaning supplies (93%)

Office furniture icon

green spend on indoor office furniture (99%)

The University resumed reporting on green spend, as defined in the Sustainable Procurement Guidelines, in fiscal year 2021–22 and reached out to suppliers for spend data in four product categories for this year’s report.

Green spend is defined as meeting preferred or minimum criteria in UC’s Sustainable Procurement Guidelines.
Suppliers reporting: Electronics (4), Furniture (1), Cleaning supplies (2), Office supplies (0).
UC Systemwide Spend Analytics category data provided by CalUSource.

Sustainable Building & Laboratory Operations

No labs were certified this year because of COVID-19.

Two laboratory beakers with stems with leaves coming out the top

total assessed green laboratories


Riding a bike icon

of students and employees are utilizing alternative commuting methods

Electric vehicle charging station icon

EV charging ports

UC Merced experienced a decrease in commute emissions due to the COVID-19 restrictions and transition to remote work.


A bar graph depicts water use. UC Merced used 13,714 gallons per capita in 2022, a 32% reduction from baseline.

Thousands of gallons per capita

*Based on a 3-year average of fiscal years 2005-08.

Overall water use increased from the previous two years due to additional buildings coming online from the 2020 project, UC Merced’s expansion program.


A stacked bar graph depicts waste generated over time. UC Merced generated 0.01 pounds per person per day of recycling, 0.03 pounds per person per day of organics, and 0.24 pounds per person per day of landfill in 2022.


*These numbers might include a small amount of incineration that is being phased out.

Overall municipal solid waste (excluding construction and demolition) increased 82% over last year, most likely due to the return to campus and events.


A line graph depicts the percentage of waste diverted over time. UC Merced diverted 31% with no construction and demolition, and 31% with municipal solid waste and construction and demolition in 2022.

Percent Diverted

UC Merced reported limited waste data in 2019.

The diversion rate decreased by approximately 3% due to an increase in campus population after the previous year’s pandemic-related curtailment.


UC Merced achieved an Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (AASHE STARS) Platinum rating in 2022. This rating system assesses the broad spectrum of sustainability initiatives and programs across campus, with sections covering academics, engagement, operations and public administration. A full list of awards is featured on the UC Office of the President’s website.