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UC Merced Shows Sustainability Matters in Cool Campus Challenge

May 9, 2019

The Cool Campus Challenge called for UC campuses to spend the month of April pledging to reduce their carbon footprints, and UC Merced didn’t disappoint. The university finished fourth overall in the competition, but was one of three campuses specially recognized for its efforts.

The university received an award for the largest percentage of participation relative to its campus population size.

The friendly competition was an effort to help the UC system reduce its carbon emissions by 2025. UC Merced plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020.

“More than 1,800 students, staff and faculty at UC Merced participated in the Cool Campus Challenge,” interim Director of Sustainability Mark Maxwell said. “This concerted effort to promote a sustainable campus and demonstrate our commitment to climate neutrality is inspiring.”

UC Merced reduced its emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (C02) by more than 2.3 million pounds through the sustainable actions promoted by the competition. Participants reduced computer power usage and used public transportation, among other efforts. Student organizations and campus departments created more than 35 teams, and the university had the largest carbon-emissions savings per participant.

UC Merced student and carbon-neutrality Fellow Maria Lujan promoted the Cool Campus Challenge at the university, and said it was an eye-opening experience for her.

"I enjoyed sharing information about the challenge and getting students involved to make sustainable changes,” the public health major said. “This challenge has definitely created more awareness and has hopefully inspired students to continue to reduce their carbon footprints, not only for our campus, but also for our planet."

UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco were also recognized for their efforts in the competition. UC Berkeley saved the most emissions of any campus and UC San Francisco saved the most emissions among the health systems.

The competition systemwide engaged more than 22,000 students, staff and faculty members, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 21 million pounds.

“We are so proud of the actions and leadership of the members of our campus and systemwide community,” Assistant Director of Sustainability Breeana Sylvas said. “It really is a team effort.”