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Saturday, February 24, 2024

UC Davis recognized for sustainability

Each year UC Davis works hard to promote environmentally sustainable features on campus. This year, the UC Davis campus will receive a high honor for their hard work and effort.

Four projects on the Davis campus were given Best Practice Awards in this year’s California Higher Education Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practice Awards, announced on May 3. The awards program, now in its seventh year, recognizes innovative projects that enhance energy efficiency and sustainability on University of California (UC), California State University (CSU) and California Community College campuses.

UC Davis received the most awards of any California campus, including the following: monitoring-based commissioning (tracking energy use) at Dutton Hall; water efficiency at the Brewery, Winery and Food Processing Complex; sustainable food service for the Cuarto Dining Commons Renovation; and Sustainable Menu Development and Innovative Waste Reduction for the 2010 football season at Aggie Stadium.

The winners of the awards are expected to present at the Sustainability Conference, which will take place July 10 to 12 at California State University, Long Beach. Funding for the program comes from the energy-efficiency partnership program that UC, CSU and California Community Colleges have with utility companies in California.

According to their website, the awards program began as a way to promote and recognize sustainability practices throughout California’s higher education system in the hopes that sustainability will continue to increase in the future.

“The awards and conference are all about peer-to-peer best practice sharing and implementing sustainability projects. It is a way of honoring project teams that did exemplary work and trying to get that exemplary work copied onto other campuses,” said Andrew Coghlan, a sustainability specialist at the University of California Office of the President.

The awards program has expanded significantly over the past seven years. While at first the awards program only recognized construction and retrofit projects on UC and CSU campuses, it now includes operational and behavioral based programs. California Community Colleges have also been added to the selection.

“Now it’s not just for a construction or a physical project but for a whole slew of activities that are designed to get people to use or generate less garbage,” Coghlan said.

For example, UC Davis won the new innovative waste reduction category, implemented last year, for Aggie Stadium’s 2010 football season. They did not win for the stadium, but for the programs they implemented around the stadium to encourage people to recycle and compost.

Camille Kirk, sustainability planner at the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability at UC Davis, said these award-winning projects are especially important because they help the campus community learn ways they too can take action.

“Anyone going to a game at Aggie Stadium takes part in pushing the campus towards our zero waste goal. Someone can go to the Cuarto Dining Commons and have a sustainable, delicious meal or students, faculty and staff can track the building performance of Dutton Hall on the Utilities Dashboard,” Kirk said.

This year, the program received a little over 100 nominations. Nominations for any award must come from someone within the campus itself, as the committee tries to discourage nominations from non-campus entities.

“We want this to remain a best practice sharing from peer to peer and keep it from becoming an advertising program,” Coghlan said.

The Sustainability Conference, taking place in July, is the culmination of the awards. At the awards ceremony of the conference, winners are recognized for their achievements and presented with a recycled glass plate with their names and project engraved. During the conference itself, winners present how they implemented their project to over 100 people composed of faculty, students and staff, as well as representatives from industries, non-profits and private colleges in California.

“[The Conference] provides a unique opportunity for people who are working on these sustainability projects to see first-hand what their colleagues are doing. By sharing these best practices we can push each other, get inspired and help raise the bar on sustainability in California Higher Education,” Coghlan said.

Representatives from each of the four winning categories at UC Davis will be attending the event. They are expecting not only to show others what they have done but also to learn about new innovations that their colleagues are implementing.

“As always, I hope to learn about cutting edge actions, new ideas and best practices from my colleagues across the state. [It is] an important way to connect with peers and build relationships which help all of us work toward more sustainable campuses,” Kirk said.

UC Davis will be hosting the 2012 Sustainability Conference scheduled for June of next year. More information about the Best Practice Awards and the conference in July can be found on their website cahigheredusustainability.org. For more information about sustainability at UC Davis visit sustainability.ucdavis.edu.

CLAIRE MALDARELLI can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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