Chancellor Dorothy Leland joined fellow higher education leaders this week to discuss new climate action at the Second Nature 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Tempe, Ariz.
On Monday, Leland spoke as part of a four-member panel focused on “The New Normal: 100 percent Clean Energy.”
“UC Merced was founded to address issues that are very real for California’s future and the San Joaquin Valley, but because we are a University of California campus, we are also committed to solving problems that have far larger implications,” Leland said in her opening remarks. “Getting to 100 percent clean energy cannot be the burden of just one institution or constituency; it has be a collective effort. Because universities are some of the world’s most durable institutions, we have the opportunity and a responsibility to lead, and we embrace that obligation.”
Leland highlighted the campus’s ongoing dedication to clean energy, carbon neutrality, landfill diversion and zero net greenhouse gas emissions.
UC Merced is on track to meet its goal of net zero energy use by 2020, in part because of its LEED-certified, energy-efficient buildings and a portfolio of renewables, specifically solar and biogas.
The campus employs a variety of programs and projects — some of campus members’ own design — to build a culture of sustainability that students, staff and faculty can carry out into the rest of the world with them.
“While we save significant money each year on energy costs and are demonstrating it can be done, what strikes me most is that our clean energy targets and our focus on sustainability have evolved into fundamental parts of our teaching, research and organizational values,” she said. “At Merced, we are using this unique moment in our evolution to lay a foundation that will add to the dialogue and hopefully provide a path forward for others.”