At the January 2016 UC Board of Regents meeting, the UC Office of the President’s sustainability team presented the 12th Annual Report on Sustainable Practices. The report highlighted the progress we are making with our comprehensive sustainability program, ranging from carbon neutrality to food sourcing to water conservation.
Our recent advances in renewable energy are especially noteworthy. UC Davis has opened the largest solar energy installation of any campus in the country, allowing UC to surpass its original on-site renewable energy goal by over 300 percent. By the end of this year, two large solar farms in Fresno County should come online, both beneficiaries of our commitment to invest $1 billion over the next five years in climate change and sustainability solutions.
In recognition of our efforts, the State of California granted UC approximately $6.7 million in incentive payments in 2015 from the statewide Energy Efficiency Partnership program to implement 72 energy efficiency projects. These projects are projected to save approximately 23 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 1.2 million therms of natural gas annually.
We’ve also made great progress in our food sourcing and water conservation programs. In 2015, the university shifted $28.7 million (23 percent of total annual food expenditure) toward local, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources. Seven of our 10 campuses have already exceeded the 2020 goal of reducing water use by 20 percent, leading us to increase the goal to 36 percent by 2025.
Our sustainability efforts are not complete without the robust participation of our students. Our Cool Campus Challenge, a friendly energy-saving competition, drew 19,000 participants from our 10 campuses. Three dozen UC students have received Carbon Neutrality Initiative fellowships for the 2015–2016 academic year, supporting undergraduate and graduate projects that help the UC system move closer to carbon neutrality. In the fall of 2015, each UC campus awarded the first ever Faculty Climate Action Champions, a recognition for a faculty member that comes with a $25,000 award to be used for a project involving students in community-engaged research related to climate change.