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.


Man refueling a bus

DOE Awards $3.75 Million to Engineering for Research in Clean Energy Technologies

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.

Man holding up a battery at UC Irvine

UC Irvine Scientists Create Long-lasting, Cobalt-free, Lithium-ion Batteries

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.


A bar graph depicts emissions over time. In 2022, UCI emitted 83238 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in Scope 1 Net Emissions, 1087 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in Scope 2 Net Emissions, 34156 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in Scope 3 Net Emissions, and 2700 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in Compliance Offsets.

Calendar Year
Metric Tons CO₂e in Thousands

* 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.


In 2022, UC Irvine used 55336 megawatt hours from Off-campus UC Clean Power Program and 6175 megawatt hours from On-campus Systems.

Calendar Year
Mwh/Year in Thousands


A line graph depicts energy use intensity over time. The energy use intensity at UCI in 2022 of 118.46 was below the annual target of 123.85.

Calendar Year
EUI (kBtu/Sqft)

UC Irvine saw a decrease in its EUI in 2022.


Assortment of colorful fruits and vegetables

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.

Green building

UC Irvine achieved one Platinum rating for the College of Health Sciences, School of Nursing Building.

21 Platinum, 13 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Certified

Total number of LEED certifications


Icon of monitor and cell phone

green spend on electronics (73%)

Icon of cleaning supplies

green spend on cleaning supplies (68%)

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green spend on indoor office furniture (99%)

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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.

Icon of plant growing in a test tube

total assessed green laboratories


Icon of cyclist

of students and employees are utilizing alternative commuting methods

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EV charging ports

Icon of electric vehicle

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.


A bar graph depicts water use. In fiscal year 2023, UCI used 7658 gallons per person which is below the 2025 goal of a 36% reduction from the baseline of 12197 gallons per person.

Fiscal Year
Thousands of gallons per capita

*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.


A stacked bar graph depicts waste generated over time. In fiscal year 2023, UCI generated 0.2 pounds per person per day of Recycling, 0.16 pounds per person per day of Organics, 0 pounds per person per day of Allowable Residual Conversion, 0.33 pounds per person per day of Landfill*.

Fiscal Year

*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.


A line graph depicts the percentage of waste diverted over time. In fiscal year 2023, UCI diverted 73% with no construction and demolition, and 73% with municipal solid waste and construction and demolition, which is above the goal of diverting 90% of municipal solid waste.

Fiscal Year
Percent Diverted

*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.