University of California's "Audacious" Climate Action Plan

University of California's "Audacious" Climate Action Plan

If the University of California was a state, it would be the 15th largest.

The annual budget for UC is 20 times larger than Arizona, where Janet Napolitano was governor from 2003 to 2009.

So the impact of California’s 10 public university campuses, hospitals and research labs becoming carbon neutral in their energy consumption is an “audacious” goal, Napolitano told Verge 16, the GreenBiz Media Group conference, in Santa Clara, California.

The decision to tackle energy as a primary issue at UC stemmed from the same kind of assessment of meta risks she undertook while secretary of Homeland Security, said Napolitano.

“Climate change is the chief risk,” she said adding that UC was the only educational institution to attend the COP21 climate change meetings in Paris and to join the Bill Gates investment consortium backing the pact.

Early work by Napolitano and her team ranges from the formation of the university’s own utility company, acquisition of two solar farms outside Fresno and incorporating sustainability into the architecture of the rapidly expanding UC Merced campus since the first stake was hammered

“It’s the first research university to be built in the United States in this century,” said Napolitano.

Sustainability has been built into the student curriculum throughout the UC system. Illustrating that point, Napolitano pointed to a UC Davis researcher who received university backing for a project to immediately use dining hall food waste as a fuel source for campus energy production.