The University of California was awarded the 2021 Green Power Leadership Award on Tuesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at the Renewable Energy Markets conference.
According to the EPA website, the Green Power Leadership Award has been given out annually since 2001 by the Green Power Partnership program, which is led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. The award seeks to recognize EPA Green Power Partners who demonstrate leadership and impact in areas including “green power use,” “innovation, sustainability and grid improvements” and “intention and ambition,” the website added.
Other 2021 award recipients include Microsoft, Boston University, Starbucks and Dane County, Wisconsin, according to a press release from the University of California.
“University of California President Michael V. Drake, M.D., has made addressing climate change one of his top priorities,” UC Office of the President, or UCOP, spokesperson Stett Holbrook said in an email.
The EPA cites the UC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative, launched in Nov. 2013 by former UC President Janet Napolitano, as a primary reason why the UC was selected for the award.
This initiative is the UC’s pledge toward sustainability and energy efficiency, and includes the goal of reaching full carbon neutrality from building and vehicle emissions on all 10 UC campuses by 2025, according to the UCOP website.
“In support of this goal, the University of California made formal policy commitments to reduce energy use, install on site renewable power, and switch to a clean energy supply,” the EPA website states. “It also set a goal to install a total of 10,000 kilowatts of on site renewable power generation, which it has since exceeded by a factor of four.”
Students are encouraged to contribute to the UC system’s goal through the Carbon Neutrality Initiative Student Fellowship Program, which funds student-generated projects related to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2025, according to the UCOP website.
Program participants include UCOP, all 10 UC campuses, the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the website added.
In 2016, UC Berkeley published the 2025 Carbon Neutrality Planning Framework, which outlined strategies to meet the initiative’s goal. These strategies include “expanding use of low and non-carbon energy supply in facilities” and reducing energy use “through efficiency projects and behavior change.”
According to UCOP, the UC is the first major university system to pledge carbon neutrality. The EPA believes that the policies set in place by the UC can create a promising plan for other institutions to follow in the UC’s footsteps.