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Campus Wins Four Awards at Annual Sustainability Conference

July 15, 2019

UC Merced continues to earn recognition and awards for its sustainability efforts.

Last week, the university won four awards at the 16th annual Higher Education Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practice Awards.

The awards were presented at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) at UC Santa Barbara. The conference — jointly organized by California Community Colleges, California State University, the University of California and private universities — highlights cutting-edge research and case studies in curriculum development, operational programs and community partnerships. The goal of CHESC is to create opportunities for best practices and dialogue across institutions.

UC Merced earned recognition in the following categories:

Energy Supply: Renewable Electricity Strategy

The university recently installed a 5.1-megawatt solar power system. The installation features a carport and rooftop solar and is complemented by a 483/900-kilowatt hour energy storage solution. Solar energy generation has been a critical aspect of the campus effort to reduce its environmental impacts and achieve its sustainability goals.

UC Merced's Downtown Campus Center was recognized for its overall sustainable design and is the first electrified building in the UC system.
UC Merced's Downtown Campus Center was recognized for its overall sustainable design and is the first electrified building in the UC system.

Overall Sustainable Design: All Electric Downtown Campus Center

The Downtown Campus Center (DCC) is the first electrified building — and the most energy efficient building — in the UC system. Using no natural gas, the building outperforms 2013 Title 24 Code by 29 percent and uses two electric air-source heat pumps and a hydronic radiant slab. The building also features windows for natural light, LED lighting throughout, and incorporates a passive solar design.

Partnerships, Communications, and Planning: Bobcat Eats Food Waste & Prevention Program

The Bobcat Eats Food Waste & Prevention Program is a joint partnership with Merced County Food Bank and CalRecycle that captures nutritious excess food destined for the landfill. The program expands food distribution sites and supports food rescues. The program is curtailing greenhouse gas emissions output, creating regional partnerships and diverting waste from the landfill.

Institutionalizing Campus as a Living Lab: Energize Colleges

(Shared with LACCD, Orange Coast College and Skyline College)

Facilitated at each campus by a dedicated Campus as a Living Lab coordinator, the Energize Colleges model comprises a dual focus on formal, paid internships and deeper learning through partnering with faculty on related career connections to courses, certificates and degree programs. UC Merced is one of four institutions recognized through the Energize Colleges Programs. The campus is bringing its LEED-rated research campus to life through student internships that focus on energy efficiency, zero waste and overall campus sustainability.