UC Irvine is dedicated to creating a culture of sustainability, integrating sustainability concepts and knowledge throughout campus engagement, academics, research, initiatives and operations.
A highlight of the past year was greater focus on and integration of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, health and well-being, and climate resiliency throughout campus sustainability planning efforts.
Read More about Sustainability at UC Irvine
In partnership with UCI Health, the main campus conducted several forms of outreach and engagement for ongoing climate resiliency planning. Workshops, tabling, social media content and survey distribution all played a significant role in beginning the conversation of climate resilience and learning about the lived experiences and insights of the campus community regarding climate change impacts. UCI will continue these efforts in the following year, with greater incorporation and discussion of decarbonization efforts.
UCI continued its legacy as a Tree Campus USA for the 13th consecutive year and was listed on Princeton Review’s Green College Honor Roll for the 11th straight year. Among other highlights, UCI Dining was awarded silver for outreach and education by the National Association of College & University Food Services, and UCI Transportation and Distribution Services earned the Race to Excellence gold award from Best Workplaces for Commuters. An interdisciplinary team of UCI graduate students received the top prize in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice Video Challenge for Students. The group produced a video about a proposed project to enlist Santa Ana residents in bioremediation efforts to remove lead from soil contamination hot spots throughout the city.
The award is one of 22 issued by the Department of Energy to advance critical technologies for producing, storing, deploying and utilizing hydrogen in support of President Biden’s goal of a 100% clean electrical grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In a discovery that could reduce or even eliminate the use of cobalt — which is often mined using child labor — in the batteries that power electric cars and other products, scientists at UC Irvine developed a long-lasting alternative made with nickel.
CLIMATE PROTECTION – EMISSIONS
* Interim goals for 2030, 2035 and 2040 to be developed through fossil-free planning that is underway at each location
** 90% direct reduction of total emissions from 2019 levels with residual emissions negated by carbon removal
Student Housing reduced its scope 2 emissions by transitioning three housing areas to the Clean Power Program. However, scope 2 emissions increased slightly from the previous year for the campus as a whole.
ENERGY – RENEWABLE Energy use
ENERGY USE INTENSITY (EUI)
UC Irvine saw a decrease in its EUI in 2022.
of food and beverage purchases met sustainability criteria ($2.9M)
of food and beverage purchases were plant-based ($2.5M)
As UC Irvine’s plant-based food and beverage percentage has grown due to more menu items being offered, the campus has seen the amount spent on these products increase as compared with last year. The sustainability team implemented a new approach to educational large-scale food waste events that includes a clear course of action for the dining halls’ management team, reinforcing preventive food waste measures and setting long-term goals and solutions.
UC Irvine achieved one Platinum rating for the College of Health Sciences, School of Nursing Building.
21 Platinum, 13 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 CertifiedTotal number of LEED certifications
green spend on electronics (73%)
green spend on cleaning supplies (68%)
green spend on indoor office furniture (99%)
green spend on office supplies (53%)
The University reports on green spend, as defined in the Sustainable Procurement Guidelines, 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 (8), Furniture (2), Cleaning supplies (5), Office supplies (3).
UC Systemwide Spend Analytics category data provided by CalUSource.
Sustainable Building & Laboratory Operations
The UC Irvine Green Labs program was put on hiatus this past year due to redevelopment of the certification program. UC Irvine did not certify any new labs but continued engagement with previously certified labs. The new certification program, which is expected to be launched in the 2023–24 academic year, has been designed to encourage greater participation, boost the understanding of sustainability in lab settings and provide an interactive experience.
total assessed green laboratories
of students and employees are utilizing alternative commuting methods
EV charging ports
of all vehicles acquired in 2023 were electric (zero-emission), plug-in hybrid or clean transportation fuel
UC Irvine opened a new parking facility with two secured bicycle parking areas and 50 level 2 electric vehicle chargers, promoting sustainable transportation options. Through enhanced programming supporting carpooling, biking, walking and transit use, UC Irvine significantly decreased the drive-alone rate, demonstrating a holistic approach toward reducing its carbon footprint and fostering greener commuting alternatives.
*Based on a 3-year average of fiscal years 2005-08
**2025 goal is a 36% reduction from baseline
Total water use at UC Irvine was lower than pre-pandemic levels.
ZERO WASTE – GENERATION
*These numbers might include a small amount of incineration that is being phased out.
**In 2021, waste generation per weighted campus user spiked due to pandemic-related closures as base-level operations continued but the number of users on campus decreased.
UC Irvine’s overall municipal solid waste (excluding construction and demolition) for fiscal year 2022–23 remained approximately the same compared to the prior year. As UC Irvine adjusted to in-person activities following the pandemic, the amount of waste generated has remained relatively consistent with pre-pandemic levels.
ZERO WASTE – DIVERSION
*Waste incineration was counted as diversion prior to July 2022.
Compared to the previous year, UC Irvine’s waste diversion decreased by 4%, from 77% to 73%. The campus will focus on improved education and training to increase student, staff and faculty understanding of recycling and composting.
UC Irvine has continued its legacy as a Tree Campus USA for 13 consecutive years, as well as being listed on Princeton Review’s Green College Honor Roll for 11 consecutive years. Additional highlights include UCI Dining’s receipt of the Silver award for Outreach and Education by the National Association of College and University Food Services and the Gold award for Race to Excellence by Best Workplaces for Commuters.
A full list of awards is featured on the UC Office of the President’s website.