Campus earns Gold rating for sustainability

Author: Imran Ghori
July 21, 2021

UC Riverside has earned a top rating for sustainability in an index of the nation’s most sustainable colleges and universities.

The campus received a gold rating from the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, or AASHE - STARS.

AASHE’s STARS program has more than 900 participants in 40 countries that report achievements in five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership. The rating system includes four tiers from bronze to platinum, the top rating.

The campus first earned a STARS Gold rating in 2016 and previously received a Silver rating in 2013. The latest gold rating is valid through May 2024.

In a letter to the scoring committee, the campus described significant strides in sustainability through academic and operational avenues since the last submission.

UCR offers a sustainability-focused class, Bending the Curve, where students learn about solutions for carbon neutrality and climate stability. The campus also offers a sustainability studies major that takes a social justice approach to analyzing social, environmental, and economic issues. 

Morales said almost every department has worked toward the UC goal of climate neutrality by 2025. Those efforts include more plant-forward dining options, achieving a Bicycle Friendly University designation by the League of American Bicyclists, and building the first LEED Platinum building on campus.

UCR will also complete its first all-electric housing complex on campus with the first phase of the North District opening this fall, providing about 1,500 beds. Ultimately, the project will house about 4,000 to 6,000 students, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from students who would otherwise be commuting, the campus application noted.

UCR has also increased its use of renewable energy with the installation of solar panels in parking lots 30 and 32 in 2017 and projects this year on four building rooftops. The combined projects create about 9 megawatts of solar power.

Finally, the campus did well in reducing water use and waste generation, both of which are down per capita ahead of UC system sustainability goals.

The report also highlighted the R’Garden as a resource for students and community members; and engagement efforts like the Climate Action Leadership Series, the Green Campus Action Plan, and the Carbon Neutrality Initiative

Morales said UC Riverside is committed to taking a leadership role in sustainability in the region through continuous improvement in all initiatives. For more information and involvement, please visit the Office of Sustainability website or send an email to sustainability@ucr.edu