Educating the community on its various energy, climate and sustainability projects and initiatives, UC San Diego hosted five virtual Sustainability Town Halls on a broad range of topics, including strategic energy, hydrogen energy, water, zero waste, sustainable landscapes and green building.

The campus continued to lead in sustainable design and construction. Senior Director Walt Kanzler was named a LEED fellow, joining the ranks of fewer than 300 LEED fellows around the world. North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood received multiple design awards, such as the Platinum Level Touchstone Award by The Center for Health Design and recognition as ASID Outcome of Design Award Winner and Optimizer and Fast Company Honoree for its 2022 Innovation by Design Awards under the Best Educational Design of 2022. North Torrey Pines Living and Learning and the Marine Conservations and Technology Facility received Platinum and Silver LEED ratings, respectively.

Read More about Sustainability at UC San Diego

University Centers launched an educational campaign, Meatless Monday, in the winter 2023 to guide community members in choosing more sustainable food options. Then in spring, it hosted the cherished tradition called the Sustainable Food Expo. After having taken a hiatus during the pandemic, its return set a record high in attendance.


Marine Ecosystems Sensing, Observation, and M modeling Laboratory on a gloomy day.

Fighting Climate Change Isn’t an Automatic Win for Environmental Justice

A study conducted by the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography and School of Global Policy and Strategy shows that while reducing greenhouse gases will likely improve overall air quality, reducing emissions could maintain or even exacerbate environmental inequality in years to come.

A row of parked bicycles

Reimagining the Academic Calendar for a Changing Climate

Researchers from UC San Diego reimagined the academic calendar through a study examining energy reductions by shifting the end of fall term to align with Thanksgiving break. If implemented at all undergraduate UC campuses, this strategy would produce a significant reduction of nearly 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in the annual carbon footprint of the system, an impact approximately equal to decarbonizing all UC-owned vehicles.


A bar graph depicts emissions over time. In 2022, UCSD emitted 165338 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in Scope 1 Net Emissions, 6570 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in Scope 2 Net Emissions, 52314 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in Scope 3 Net Emissions, 9015 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

UC San Diego’s overall emissions increased by 6%. In the prior year, unplanned gas turbine outages reduced scope 1 emissions. The campus returned to normal cogeneration operations in fiscal year 2022–23.


In 2022, UC San Diego used 128998 megawatt hours from Off-campus UC Clean Power Program, 4025 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 UCSD in 2022 of 136.2 was below the annual target of 154.71.

Calendar Year
EUI (kBtu/Sqft)

UC San Diego saw an increase in its EUI in 2022.


Assortment of colorful fruits and vegetables

of food and beverage purchases met sustainability criteria ($4.2M)


of food and beverage purchases were plant-based ($5.3M)

UC San Diego’s sustainable food spend was affected by the loss of a major local bread supplier.

Green building

UC San Diego continues to excel in sustainable design and construction, adding seven Platinum projects, one Silver project and one certified project this year. North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood garnered several design awards.

11 Platinum, 28 Gold, 15 Silver and 4 Certified

Total number of LEED certifications


Icon of monitor and cell phone

green spend on electronics (49%)

Icon of cleaning supplies

green spend on cleaning supplies (48%)

Icon of office furniture

green spend on indoor office furniture (95%)

Icon of office supplies

green spend on office supplies (41%)

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 (5), Furniture (3), Cleaning supplies (5), Office supplies (4).
UC Systemwide Spend Analytics category data provided by CalUSource.

Sustainable Building & Laboratory Operations

UC San Diego added four more certified green labs this year and continues to lead UC in total labs certified.

Icon of plant growing in a test tube

total assessed green laboratories


Icon of cyclist

of students and employees are utilizing alternative commuting methods

Icon of electric charging

EV charging ports

Icon of electric vehicle

of all vehicles acquired in 2023 were electric (zero-emission), plug-in hybrid or clean transportation fuel

Telecommuting continued to positively impact emissions, along with the use of multi-occupant vehicles. Alternative commuting increased by approximately 30% from the pre-pandemic 2019 level.


A bar graph depicts water use. In fiscal year 2023, UCSD used 14155 gallons per person which is below the 2025 goal of a 36% reduction from the baseline of 14668 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

Includes UCSD Health La Jolla Medical Center

Potable water use per capita rose due to increased potable water use in cooling towers this fiscal year.


A stacked bar graph depicts waste generated over time. In fiscal year 2023, UCSD generated 0.43 pounds per person per day of Recycling, 0.03 pounds per person per day of Organics, 0 pounds per person per day of Allowable Residual Conversion, 0.77 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 San Diego’s Return to Learn programming saw an increase in activity on campus that impacted waste generation in both recycling and landfill quantities.


A line graph depicts the percentage of waste diverted over time. In fiscal year 2023, UCSD diverted 47% with no construction and demolition, and 73% with municipal solid waste and construction and demolition, which is below the goal of diverting 90% of municipal solid waste.

Fiscal Year
Percent Diverted

*Waste incineration was counted as diversion prior to July 2022.

UC San Diego increased its recycling and reuse quantities which resulted in a waste diversion increase of 5% from the previous year.


Neighborhood Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood received the American Institute of Architects COTE Top Ten award for sustainable design excellence and the American Society of Interior Designers Outcome of Design award, and was a Fast Company honoree for its 2022 Innovation by Design awards under the Best Educational Design category.

A full list of awards is featured on the UC Office of the President’s website.