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20th Annual Report on Sustainable Practices Highlights UC San Diego’s Achievements

Keeling Flasks are named after Charles David Keeling, climate science pioneer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Keeling Flasks are named after Charles David Keeling, climate science pioneer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Keeling was the first to confirm the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide by very precise measurements that produced a data set now known widely as the as the “Keeling Curve.”

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From progress in sustainable operations to sustainability successes in education, research and public service, the 20th Annual Report on Sustainable Practices highlights the achievements of the University of California’s comprehensive sustainability program in 2023. As part of the report, UC San Diego excelled in best-of-class green building practices, made noteworthy progress in conserving energy and water and was recognized for the quality and quantity of our research related to sustainability. 

“At UC San Diego, sustainability is part of our institutional DNA, imparted to us by Roger Revelle, one of the university’s founders and a pioneer of climate change research,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “This report reflects our commitments to build on that legacy to become one of the nation’s most sustainable universities, with achievements in campus operations, research and a new graduation requirement that empowers our students with the knowledge and skills needed to confront the urgent global challenge of climate change.”

UC San Diego invests in innovative and leading sustainable practices for campus operations, which have reduced our emissions and annual energy costs by millions. In the 2023 report, our campus was recognized for meeting ambitious energy and water use goals—an especially strong achievement, given that UC San Diego has also made tremendous progress in meeting the needs of our students with new housing, a new college and many new labs and facilities.

The LEED platinum certified North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood features systems that increase indoor air quality while reducing energy use. 
The LEED platinum certified North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood features systems that increase indoor air quality while reducing energy use. The residential areas of the neighborhood are designed to use 80% less energy than a typical residence hall.

UC San Diego’s green building program certainly played a role. More than a decade ago, UC San Diego celebrated its first LEED Platinum certified building, the Charles David Keeling apartments at Revelle College. In 2023, both Franklin Antonio Hall and North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood were awarded LEED Platinum certification—the highest level of recognition by the US Green Building Council.  In addition, the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment awarded North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood with its highest honor—the COTE® Top Ten Award—for significant achievements in advancing climate action.

“The six LEED Platinum certified buildings of North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood are a beautiful example of how the university makes sustainability a priority,” said UC San Diego Interim Vice Chancellor of Resource Management and Planning Maureen Harrigan. “The residential areas of the neighborhood are designed to use 80% less energy than a typical residence hall and save five million gallons of water each year, helping us achieve our climate action goals.”

Beyond LEED, UC San Diego was recognized for sustainability achievements in key national and global  rankings. UC San Diego Health received the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award, Practice Greenhealth’s highest honor for hospitals. Our campus achieved a Gold rating in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) and received “top performer” recognition in AASHE’s sustainable campus index for the large percentage and support of our research related to sustainability.

UC San Diego also announced the Jane Teranes Climate Change Education Requirement, a new graduation requirement for incoming first-year students that, in response to the growing demand by undergraduates for climate-related courses and content, expands educational engagement with climate change across a range of disciplines.

UC San Diego students and staff directly contribute to our success in sustainability. The majority of our students and employees (72%) take advantage of alternative commuting methods, reducing emissions, and enjoy innovative sustainable food options on our campus and beyond. Learn more about our commitment to sustainability  on our campus website.

The UC San Diego Blue Line trolley offers faculty, staff and students a safe, reliable and inexpensive alternative to driving, while helping to reduce roadway congestion and ease parking demands.   
The UC San Diego Blue Line trolley offers faculty, staff and students a safe, reliable and inexpensive alternative to driving, while helping to reduce roadway congestion and ease parking demands.   

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