The Princeton Review is no stranger to handbooks, but recently it added a new listing to the pile. Their “Guide to 286 Green Colleges” includes UC Davis along with many other UC campuses.
The guide, which is only available online to parallel the environmentally conscious universities it houses, was created in partnership with the United States Green Building Council. The non-profit organization furthers eco-friendly designs and buildings and is the creator of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a rating system that two UC Davis facilities have complied with so far.
Allen Doyle, sustainability manager for the UC Davis Office of Administrative and Resource Management, said UC Davis students hold an integral role in the university’s eco-friendly research and practices, as well. His office tries to meet monthly with the Critical Studies in Food and Culture organization, the Campus Center for the Environment and the World Wildlife Society.
These activities, Doyle said, are possible because the Office of Administrative and Resource Management is a main office of the campus, something he is very grateful for.
“We have input at a pretty senior level,” Doyle said. “Given the economic restraints we’re in right now, we’re [still] given a lot of respect and encouragement. I think that really says something about our campus in terms of our level of commitment [to sustainability].”
Like UC Berkeley, UC Davis has written a climate action plan which Doyle hopes to be released this month. A key component in the development of that plan was the voluntary commitment to the Presidential Climate Action Plan, which UC Davis, along with almost 700 other colleges across the nation, have signed on to.
UC Davis showcases a variety of other sustainable practices and programs. Through a loan program and partnership with PG&E, UC Davis will invest $30 million in energy upgrades to university buildings over the next three years. California has set a goal for 20 percent sustainably purchased food by 2020, a feat UC Davis campus dining has already met.
UC Berkeley was listed in the guide as well and has a multitude of projects underway at the moment, said Director of Sustainability Lisa McNeilly.
“Really the main thing is energy and climate,” she said. “It’s where we have the most stringent goals. We can see the most co-benefits: the costs from saving, more comfortable buildings, better learning environments.”
A particularly significant focus of the campus, McNeilly said, is the Cal Climate Action Partnership, which advances the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2014.
Much concentration has also gone into water consumption, composting and recycling. The latter two of which, McNeilly said, are favorites of students; they present a large pro-sustainability presence at UC Berkeley with more than 30 environmentally focused clubs and groups.
Considering all but one UC – UC Merced – were accounted for in The Princeton Review’s guide speaks volumes for the cohesiveness of the University of California system regarding sustainability, Doyle said.
“I see us as a great big team. I’m on about three or four conference calls with my colleagues each month, all sharing our best practices as fast as we can,” Doyle said.
Along with their “Guide to 286 Green Colleges,” The Princeton Review reported 66 percent of respondents in their 2009 “College Hopes and Worries Survey” said information about a university’s environmental practices held weight in their decision process – a statistic Doyle seems to think holds some precedence.
“The reviews [regarding sustainability] are important to quantify the progress we are making, to let others know how well we are doing and to keep pushing us to higher levels,” he said.
KELLEY REES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.