UC campuses going green?

University of California students scratched the administrative giant’s big toe and took campuses a step forward in the effort to help squash global doom.

Net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions—that’s the system-wide goal the UC green team agreed on at an environmental sustainability steering-committee meeting on October 20 in Oakland. The proposed addition to the Green Building and Clean Energy policy just needs UC President Robert Dynes to sign to start the race toward climate neutrality.

“It’s visionary but feasible,” according to Maric Munn, chair of the working group that researches the UC’s impact on climate change and passes possible solutions on to the committee.

Through aggressive earth-friendly strategies, like tuning up buildings with energy-efficient retrofits and solar-generated power, the UC aims to mirror California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (A.B. 32)—and then some.

A draft of the proposed policy addition asked for 1990 levels of greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020, in line with A.B. 32’s goals for the state.

In addition, the UC would keep pace by digging down to 2000 levels before the 2014 halfway mark. A concrete game plan to go all the way to zero would be in place by 2008.

UC climate neutrality means reducing emissions as much as possible, but also may include the use of carbon offsets like economic carbon-credit trading or renewable-energy credits, to hit net zero.

The committee hasn’t figured out where funding for the effort against global warming would come from. In the past, state and local governments and students, who voted to raise their own fees, have contributed to environmental causes.

“We’re trying to save the world,” said Jonathan Woolley, a student advocate and member of the California Student Sustainability Coalition.

“It hasn’t been contentious,” said UC sustainability specialist Matthew St.Clair. “Students have been active not only in demanding progress on reducing environmental impacts, but are doing research and raising their own money to help with that progress.”