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Good to be green: Accolades add to UC Davis’ environmental reputation

April 26, 2013

What makes a cool school?

Video (1 min 49 sec)

Videography by Sierra Club

In a month that marked the annual Earth Day celebration, the University of California, Davis, received recognition for its environmental sustainability efforts from The Princeton Review and the League of American Bicyclists, reaffirming the school’s reputation as a green leader. 

On Earth Day, April 22, the League of American Bicyclists announced UC Davis as the first university or college to receive the league’s platinum Bicycle Friendly Business Award for helping to lead America “toward a greener future.” The bicycle award came on the heels of The Princeton Review’s April 16 announcement that UC Davis was chosen as one of 322 environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada.

Both awards bolster UC Davis’ 2012-13 designation by Sierra magazine as the nation’s No. 1 Cool School, a ranking based on measurable efforts toward improving sustainability, from energy and infrastructure, to transportation and academics.

“Sustainability is a core value at UC Davis,” said UC Davis chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “Our students, faculty and staff work hard to create a sustainable campus — from our bikes and trees to our green building and zero waste programs. We are proud to be recognized for our commitment to the environment.”

League of American Bicyclists

The League of American Bicyclists’ business awards program began in 2008 and has presented only eight platinum awards in that time — and never before to a college or university.

The awards recognize employer efforts to encourage a more bicycle-friendly atmosphere for employees and customers, or, in UC Davis’ case, students, faculty, staff and visitors.

David Takemoto-Weerts, coordinator of the Bicycle Program with UC Davis Transportation and Parking Services, said UC Davis provides “a safe, efficient and welcoming environment to encourage campus employees to choose cycling as their preferred commute mode.”

In applying for the Bicycle Friendly Business award, UC Davis cited such accommodations as restricting most vehicle traffic in central campus, and the Bicycle Education and Enforcement Program, an online education module.

The campus also offers 42 miles of bike paths, more than 20,000 high-security racks, free showers, safety programs and other measures that help make commuting by bike a viable option.

In addition, the campus’ Bike Barn offers bike sales and service, and the Transportation and Parking Services office provides do-it-yourself bike repair stations around campus.

Princeton Review

UC Davis is profiled in the fourth annual edition of the free, downloadable book, “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges,” published in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools. 

The guide is intended as a resource for students who are seeking colleges that practice and promote environmentally responsible choices and practices.

The Princeton Review based its selection on “green rating” scores, which were tallied using data from a 50-question survey of hundreds of administrators from 806 schools.

Institutions selected for the guide earned green rating scores of 83 or higher. The Princeton Review does not report those scores or rank the schools numerically.

Other UC Davis sustainability efforts highlighted in the guide include:

  • UC Davis is among the top 10 environmental studies undergraduate degree programs in the nation.
  • The Unitrans community bus system is run by UC Davis students, and its fleet of clean buses runs on compressed natural gas.
  • Green building practices include four LEED Platinum buildings, the highest ranking awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • UC Davis West Village is the largest planned zero net energy community in the nation.
  • The campus has achieved four consecutive years of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  • More than 20 percent of food served in campus dining commons is considered sustainable.
  • The university’s career center emphasizes opportunities in a wide range of environmental fields.

Sierra Club

Sierra magazine in August named UC Davis the nation’s “Coolest School” for its efforts to address climate change and operate sustainably.

The 5,300-acre campus ranked No. 1 among the 96 top colleges and universities surveyed.

In bestowing the “Coolest School” ranking, the Sierra Club’s official publication praised UC Davis for establishing rigorous green purchasing standards; diverting nearly 70 percent of campus trash from landfills; and for its alternative transportation options, including the Unitrans bus service and extensive amenities for cyclists.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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