Once again, I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe as we’ve reached nearly two months of sheltering in place.
In a normal month of May, UC Davis would be getting ready to host the Whole Earth Festival. It’s the traditional Aggie way of celebrating our commitment to environmental sustainability while enjoying a weekend in the sun. This year was set to be extra-special, with 2020 marking the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
We might have to wait for another time to gather, but UC Davis’ dedication to the environment and sustainability remains unchanged. In fact, this commitment remains stronger than ever, from our research to how we operate our campuses and facilities.
That ranges from finding new ways to conserve water, source sustainable foods and reduce our overall emissions. We’re certainly on the right track. UC Davis has achieved a 40% reduction in our business operations-related greenhouse gas emissions since 2007.
Recognition of our efforts
For three years in a row, UC Davis is ranked No. 1 nationally for sustainability by the GreenMetric World University Rankings. These rankings included such factors as campus recycling programs, water efficiencies and research efforts that are dedicated to the environment and sustainability.
Our health system in Sacramento also received kudos recently with an Environmental Excellence Award from Practice Greenhealth. And in 2019, the UC Davis Medical Center was named as a James Beard Foundation “Smart Catch Leader.” This was first hospital in the nation to receive these accolades for sourcing sustainable seafood.
Putting green practices to work
UC Davis is driven to provide leadership in environmental sustainability, and it’s easy to see these values in action. We have the nation’s largest solar installation on a university campus, with a 16.3-megawatt capacity production.
Our West Village student housing project is the largest planned “zero-net energy” community in the United States, with living quarters for more than 2,000 students, faculty and staff. It’s also home to the campus’s energy and transportation research centers.
Meanwhile, UC Davis researchers are focused on finding solutions that address the effects of climate change and help protect our natural resources.
You’ll find the names of several UC Davis faculty members on many of the white papers that prompted California to enact the world’s most comprehensive legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s formally known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
Researchers at our outposts in Lake Tahoe and Bodega Bay are studying water issues that have implications across the planet. We have Benjamin Houlton leading the way with OneClimate. This initiative blends UC Davis’ strengths in cross-disciplinary research and problem solving into worldwide networks of climate solutions.
One of the benefits of living in Davis is seeing this kind of commitment to environmental sustainability all around the city. Here, the preferred mode of transportation is a bicycle. You find planned communities like Village Homes that keep such energy efficiencies as solar energy and stormwater collection at the core of its designs. And of course, our farmers market showcases a variety of sustainably grown produce and locally produced goods year-round.
Keep it going
Let’s do what we can to reduce our carbon footprint and keep up the momentum with sustainable practices. We must continue to address the effects of climate change, especially as droughts and wildfires become our new normal.
If you’d like to pass this message along to your kids, I hope you’ll show them a video I recorded for “Story Time Sacramento.” This series from Sacramento Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby features some familiar local faces reading a favorite story.
The book I chose to read was Ice Is Nice! It’s a fun story about the north and south poles with appearances from Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, and delivers an educational message about climate change. I hope you’ll tune in here.
In the meantime, I wish everyone the best of health. Keep taking care of one another and the environment as well.
Chancellor Gary S. May’s monthly column appears first in The Davis Enterprise and then in Dateline UC Davis.