UC Wins Environmental Award For Its Eco-Friendly Practices

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UC President Mark Yudof stood in the ranks of Avatar director James Cameron Saturday night as he received an award on behalf of the university's eco-friendly practices.

The "green" carpet was rolled out that night for Cameron, Yudof and other recipients of the 2010 Millenium Awards, bestowed by Global Green USA - the American arm of an organization created by former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev to foster environmental values.

The UC won the California Environmental Leadership Award for its commitment to the environment and sustainability, said Ruben Aronin, director of communications for Global Green.

From composting food at university dining systems, to creating projects focused on reducing emissions, Aronin said the university has demonstrated a commitment to the environment.

He added that most noteworthy was the number of buildings certified with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) - 32 across the 10-campus system.

UC Berkeley has two LEED-certified buildings and 18 LEED-registered projects that await certification.

Though other educational institutions, such as Los Angeles Community College District and Los Angeles Unified School District, have previously received this award, the UC is the first major university to win.

"Yale School of Forestry and Oberlin College have robust sustainability initiatives, but the UC system stands head and shoulders above the others," Aronin said.

But Lisa McNeilly, director of the UC Berkeley Office of Sustainability, said it may be harder for other schools to be as "green" as the UCs, which strive for low greenhouse gas emissions and efficient energy usage. Though schools like Harvard University might have more resources to become green, they use more energy because of their location in a colder climate.

"Our greenhouse gas emissions are substantially lower than Harvard's, but Harvard lives in a substantially colder climate," she said. "Their electricity, which they have no control over, is made with more coal, but at the same time they have more LEED-certified buildings and more sustainability staff."

Matthew St. Clair, sustainability specialist for the university, said he hopes the award will help attract more students to the system.

"Studies show students how green a campus is will impact (students') choices of where to go to college," he said.

McNeilly said while campuses like UC Berkeley have come a long way in becoming more sustainable, they still have a way to go.

"Sustainability is a journey, not a destination, so if you're asking are we there yet, no," she said. "Has the journey been a really robust one, yes."


Emma Anderson is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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