This past year, UC Irvine has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to the goals outlined in the UC Sustainable Practices Policy, as evident in its perseverance to achieve sustainable progress in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

The construction and completion of two new student housing projects highlight UCI’s creativity and innovation in green building design. Plaza Verde Student Apartments opened to over 1,400 students in fall 2019 and is the campus’s first all-electric student housing project, eliminating the need for natural gas by utilizing heat pump water heaters and an electric outdoor grill system. The Middle Earth Towers house 500 first-year students in a project with LEED Platinum certification that incorporates features such as a 50-kilowatt photovoltaic system, natural ventilation and stormwater treatment systems that include green roofs. 

UCI also participated in the procurement of electricity for direct access accounts through the UC Power Program, which is 100% carbon-free. Additionally, in a collaborative greenhouse research project, 7,500 square feet of turfgrass was replaced with native and nonnative drought-tolerant plants, saving approximately 75,000 gallons of water per year.

As the campus shifted to remote learning and work due to the escalating global pandemic, sustainability champions across campus quickly adapted to developing virtual tools and resources. The Sustainability Spot, a student-run blog, serves as an outlet for sharing research, experiences and hopes for the future. The Sustainability Corner was created to provide a behind-the-scenes look into campus operations and to empower greater sustainable behavior while working remotely or on campus. The Sustainability Resource Center built a Virtual Earth Week Platform, showcasing a breadth of programs and opportunities around the world, receiving over 600 visits throughout the week.

Stories
Man leads an outdoor workshop at UC Irvine

Orange County Health Equity Community-Academic Partnership with UC Irvine Trains Community Members to Conduct Contact Tracing

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated long-standing social, economic and political inequities in the U.S., with disproportionate morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 in low-income communities of color. In May 2020, the Orange County Health Equity COVID-19 Community-Academic Partnership was formed to assert a health equity approach to mitigating and eliminating the effects of COVID-19. Over the […]

Black and white photo of young man in a mask receiving a box

FRESH Basic Needs Hub Creates Innovative Food and Housing Security Solutions During the Pandemic

The UCI FRESH Basic Needs Hub is dedicated to supporting students with basic food and housing security through the provision of resources, tools and accessibility. Deemed an essential service, FRESH has continuously demonstrated resilience and its commitment to students during the COVID-19 pandemic.  FRESH quickly adapted its programs and resources during the pandemic to align […]

CLIMATE PROTECTION – EMISSIONS

Line graph depicting emissions levels between 2009 and 2019, with projected goals through 2025, and split into two categories. Scopes 1+2 decreased from 109,764 metric tons CO₂e in 2009 to 78,875 metric tons CO₂e by 2019, with a goal of 0 emissions by 2025. Scopes 1+2+3 decreased from 156,760 metric tons CO₂e in 2009 to 144,114 metric tons CO₂e by 2019, with a goal of 0 emissions by 2050.

Year
Metric tons CO₂e in Thousands
ENERGY – RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY GENERATION

Bar graph depicting Renewable Electricity Generation levels, split into four categories: On-Campus Systems (5,928.4 Mwh/year), Off-Campus Contracts (0 Mwh/year), Off-Campus Opt-in Utility Programs (0 Mwh/year), and Off-Campus UC Wholesale Power Program (32,314.9 Mwh/year).

Mwh/year
ENERGY USE INTENSITY (EUI)

Line graph depicting energy use intensity (EUI) between 2011 and 2019, split into two categories: EUI Target and EUI Actual. EUI Actual has remained under the EUI target goal throughout these years.

Year
EUI (kBtu/Sqft)
Transportation

UC Irvine 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

77%

of UCI employees are utilizing alternative commuting methods

Electric vehicle charing station icon

181

EV charging stations at this location for 2019-2020

Electric vehicle with charger icon

97%

of light-duty vehicles acquired in 2020 were electric (zero-emission) and hybrid vehicles

Water

Stacked bar graph depicting average water usage for FY 2019-2020. The water usage reduction goal for 2025 has already been met in 2020.

Thousands of gallons per capita
ZERO WASTE – GENERATED

Bar graph depicting waste generated between 2016 and 2020, split between four categories: Recycle, Organics, Landfill, and Allowable Residual Conversion. During this period all four categories decreased.

Year
Pounds
ZERO WASTE – DIVERTED

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). Diversion rates in 2020 were around 80% in both categories, with a goal of 90%. 

Year
Percent diverted
Food

UC Irvine 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

$7.7M+

total spend on food and beverages

13.7%

of food and beverage purchases met sustainability criteria in fiscal year 2019-20

procurement
Desk Chair icon

32%

green spend on indoor office furniture

Cleaning supplies in a bucket with a leaf

37%

green spend
on cleaning supplies

Desktop computer and smart phone icon

72%

green spend on electronics

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

Green building

UC Irvine received 1 Platinum LEED certification in 2020.

18 Platinum, 12 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Certified

Total number of LEED certifications

Sustainable Building & Laboratory Operations
Two laboratory beakers with stems with leaves coming out the top

5

total assessed research labs

UC Irvine has met the goal of assessing three labs.

Awards

UC Irvine was the proud recipient of several sustainability awards in 2020.

A full list of awards is here.