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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UC Davis named greenest campus for eighth consecutive year

Student organizations discuss both areas of success and room for improvement based on this ranking


By BENJAMIN CARRILLO – campus@theaggie.org


In 2023, UC Davis was named the greenest campus in the nation for the eighth year in a row by the GreenMetric World University Ranking, maintaining the campus’ reputation for striving towards a minimal waste environment. The university was also ranked fifth most green campus in the world for the fourth year in a row.

According to the UC Davis Sustainability Office, this ranking is determined through a variety of criteria and their analysis to determine the ranking of UC Davis in comparison to other schools. These criteria include setting and infrastructure, energy and climate commitments, wastewater transportation and education and research.

Kelli O’Day, the assistant manager for the UC Davis Sustainability Office, discussed the achievement in greater detail. 

“Continuing to make progress is so important, and we have to keep the momentum going,” O’Day said. “We submit reports and get information to understand where we are, and where to go further from there. In the future, we’ll make sure that plans, such as the Fossil Fuel-Free Pathway Plan, are implemented and that students are still well informed on how to lessen their footprint.” 

The Fossil Fuel-Free Pathway Plan strives to eventually eliminate the usage of fossil fuels at UC Davis. O’Day emphasized this plan as one of the many ideas in the works to maintain the position as the greenest campus for a ninth year. 

“If you think about the history of sustainability at the school, there are student-initiated guidelines that we follow, and the students are the guidelines here, creating programs such as Unitrans and the Coffee House,” O’Day said. “Here we are, 60 years later, and they are still here.” 

One of the countless student programs within UC Davis is the Zero Waste and Sustainability Club. Kili Kato, co-president of the club and a third-year marine and coastal science major, spoke on this achievement.

“As a campus, we need to promote more sustainability initiatives and put into framework some of the larger pieces, and that comes with voting in legislation and getting more acts approved to further green initiatives,” Kato said. “The community is the heart of Davis, and collaboration is the key to keeping our campus green.” 

Emily Dumont, a third-year environmental science and management major and vice president of the Zero Waste and Sustainability Club, specifically discussed their involvement with sustainability. 

“I feel like there’s a huge emphasis on reducing single-use products, and switching to post-consumer recyclables,” Dumont said. “Our club strives to mention the importance and show willingness to prevent single-use products as much as possible. The Green Initiative Fund was recently not passed, and if this fund fails to pass [again], there will be many resources lost on keeping us in the number one spot. It’s important to vote and ensure that we keep the legislation talked about.” 

Additionally, Amelia Swanson, a third-year sustainable environmental design major and co-president of the Zero Waste and Sustainability Club, also talked about what sustainability means to students at UC Davis. 

“I feel like Davis has a lot of amazing teams, and there’s so many opportunities and internships for students to get involved [with] on the campus,” Swanson said. “Professors and Learning by Leading programs get students involved with the outdoors, and each has a role in keeping the campus more sustainable. I think overall it’s really good and gives students the opportunity to learn a lot and help the campus.” 

A great example of one of these volunteer opportunities is the Aggie Reuse store, a zero waste program that is a mutual aid thrift store, where everything is second-hand. Elyssa Lieu, one of the Aggie Reuse directors, emphasized the versatility and importance of the organization.

“It’s really nice to be a part of the conversation in UC Davis, and team up with other sustainability teams to come up with events to promote sustainability and our program,” Lieu said. “While being number one is great, it’s even greater to maintain that position and work towards a common goal. I’d say that Aggie Reuse is just one part of the larger sustainability story being built.” 

Victoria Mattsson, another representative of the Aggie Reuse program, went on to explain the nuance of being first in the nation, and what that truly means to her. 

“I do think rankings are kinda silly, but there is of course some meaning to it,” Mattsson said. “It’s such a huge draw for so many prospective students and faculty members. But what’s important to note is that the campus and community should continue to strive for greater collective sustainability, pushing for ourselves and administrators to keep improving over time. While a great achievement, it’s not an invitation to just sit satisfied where we are.” 


Written by: Benjamin Carrillo – campus@theaggie.org


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