UCI wins Sierra Club distinction

IRVINE — UC Irvine is a "cool school," at least according to a survey by the Sierra Club.

The fourth annual list recognizes the greenest schools in the nation, according to their commitment to sustainability in energy, efficiency, food, academics, waste management, administration, financial investments and other categories.

"It's an acknowledgement of many aspects of the campus community," said Wendell Brase, vice chancellor for administrative & business services, in a statement. "UCI researchers are already at the forefront of climate change; our students are engaged on these issues; and our administrators, in collaboration with excellent colleagues from other California campuses, play a leadership role in finding large-scale solutions to achieving our goal of carbon neutrality."

UCI ranked sixth in the list of 100 universities with a score of 84.3, sandwiched between Stanford University and Northland College, of Ashland, Wis.

ZotWheels, a bike-sharing program created as an alternative transportation option for UCI students, has received numerous awards due to its ability to have users opt for bikes instead of pollutant-emitting cars and thus reduce the university's carbon footprint.

For $40 a year, students and staff can rent out bikes for three hours at a time and return the bikes to four different locations on campus.

The program, which is one of two bike-sharing programs at an American university, pushed UCI toward the top in the list.

However, UCI's also employs other cases of green technology and environmental sustainability. Some examples are:

—UCI uses 80% natural gas for energy and 90% for heating, and uses power from solar panels on 12 roof areas.

—Of the last 10 buildings constructed in the last three years, nine are LEED certified, four of which with the highest LEED certification of Gold.

—A majority of the water used in landscaping, 90%, is recovered or reclaimed.

—UCI offers more than 30 programs (bachelor's, master's and Ph.D.s) in sustainability-related disciplines.

—Professor F. Sherwood Rowland, a 1995 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, and his colleague, Mario Molina, were the first scientists to warn that CFCs released into the atmosphere were depleting the earth's critical ozone layer.

—UCI diverts 70% of its waste from landfills.

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