UCR joins Cool Campus Challenge to promote sustainability

The campus is invited to take the pledge to reduce carbon emissions and earn the “cool” crown

March 28, 2019
Author: Imran Ghori
March 28, 2019

UC Riverside will participate in the four-week Cool Campus Challenge starting April 1 as part of the University of California’s campaign to reduce its carbon footprint.

All 10 UC campuses and the Office of the President will take part in the friendly competition to motivate students, faculty, and staff to lower carbon emissions through actions small and large.

“The University of California has become a national leader in working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025,” said UC Riverside Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox. “Join me in the month of April for the UC system-wide Cool Campus Challenge as we encourage each other to reduce our energy consumption and learn new ways to conserve precious natural resources."

The challenge is aimed at meeting the UC Carbon Neutral Initiative, launched by UC President Janet Napolitano in 2012, to reach carbon neutrality by 2025.

The university is taking major steps to meet that goal through investments in renewable energy, efficiency, and research, said Brian Siana, UCR associate director of academic sustainability and an associate professor of physics and astronomy.

"In addition to these important investments, we also need to educate ourselves and change to a more sustainable culture," he said. "The Cool Campus Challenge is a fun, social way to learn, take concrete steps, and engage others to make a large collective impact today."

The campus with the most points will be named the Coolest Campus, an honor that comes with a trophy and a $2,000 award. Two runners-up will also win $1,000 and a trophy.

UC Riverside’s Office of Sustainability will hold events throughout the course of the challenge, which runs from April 1-26, to encourage participation. These include a Sustainability Seminar Series that will kick off April 2, a screening of the documentary “Paris to Pittsburgh” on April 25, and a table at the weekly “nooners” near the bell tower.

Students can enter raffle contests to win T-shirts, UC-branded reusable bags, $20 Visa cards, and solar panel chargers. A weekly photo contest is also planned where individuals and teams with the most points can win swag.

To participate, sign up at the Cool Campus Challenge website  and take the pledge. Participants can join as individuals or teams.

Challenge participants earn points by taking energy-saving, waste-reducing, and sustainability-focused actions and sharing their actions on social media with the hashtag #coolcampuschallenge.

These include simple everyday actions such as shutting off computer monitors when not in use, taking public transportation instead of driving on some days, or reducing waste.

Every sign-up earns points for the university as do follow-up steps such as posting, liking, and sharing photos showing sustainable actions.

A theme is planned for each week of the challenge suggesting the type of actions that participants can take.

The first week's theme is education with the suggestion to watch a Climate Lab series video and take the Cool Climate Calculator. Week two's theme is food and waste, with the suggestion to go meatless for a day.

Transportation/commuting is the focus of week three with suggestions such as reducing vehicle use. For the final week, the theme is Earth Week & Resources, with actions such as going "zero waste" for a day and taking the Cool Campus Challenge survey.

Follow @UCR_Sustain on Twitter and check the events calendar for Cool Campus Challenge events this month.