As the only institution in the country with all LEED certified buildings, being sustainable is ingrained in UC Merced’s DNA. Now, a new competition is challenging the university to strive for carbon neutrality through a UC system-based initiative.
During the month of April, all 10 UC campuses will go head-to-head in the Cool Campus Challenge, a contest to see which UC location can do the most to reduce its carbon footprint and spread the word about the importance of becoming carbon neutral.
The Cool Campus Challenge motivates campus communities to support the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative — launched by UC President Janet Napolitano in 2013 — with the primary goal of having the UC system achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.
The focus of this friendly online competition is for the university community to engage in a culture of sustainability and environment-friendly practices. All students, faculty and staff can contribute to this effort by registering and taking actions to reduce their environmental impact. Participants earn points for each action they take.
The campus with the most points and greatest percentage of participation at the end of the competition on April 26 will be crowned the “Coolest UC Campus.” UC Merced took home second place in the first Cool Campus Challenge in 2015.
“This challenge not only serves as an educational tool about the need to reduce our carbon footprint, but also begins the process of making carbon neutrality a reality for UC Merced and the UC system as a whole,” said Mark Maxwell, interim director of the department of Sustainability.
Each week, the challenge will highlight actions participants can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, such as shutting off computer monitors that are not in use or taking public transportation.
Individuals and teams can compete to win, and multiple prizes will be awarded. In addition to earning points for taking suggested actions, participants can earn additional points by devising their own creative ideas for reducing their carbon footprint.
UC and the Center for Sustainable Energy are sponsoring the Cool Campus Challenge and encourage all Californians to take measures that save energy, reduce carbon emissions and lead efforts to combat climate change in California. Sign up online.