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Sustainable 2nd Century

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UC Davis is nation’s ‘Coolest School’

August 14, 2012

#1 Cool School

Sierra magazine has named the University of California, Davis, the nation’s “Coolest School” for its efforts to address climate change and operate sustainably.

The 5,300-acre campus, internationally acclaimed for its research in environmental sciences, ranked No. 1 among the 96 top colleges and universities surveyed.

“At UC Davis, sustainability is one of our core values,” said UC Davis chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “I am very proud of the students, faculty and staff who have worked so hard to make this achievement possible and to invest in a more sustainable future for our campus.”

In bestowing the “Coolest School” ranking, the Sierra Club’s official publication praised UC Davis for establishing rigorous green purchasing standards; diverting nearly 70 percent of campus trash from landfills; and offering an extensive transportation system that includes the student-run Unitrans bus service, which serves the campus and adjoining city with 49 natural-gas-powered buses that carry 21,000 riders a day, 42 miles of bike paths and more than 20,000 bicycle parking spaces.  

“I’m going into my senior year, and for the past few years, I’ve seen UC Davis grow in efforts to put sustainably grown food and energy measures on campus,“ said UC Davis student Tessa Artale, director of the Campus Center for the Environment. “Not only at the administrative level, but at the student level, I've seen a commitment to making UC Davis a model for green universities. At UC Davis, you can take a class about sustainability, you can go on a field trip with the professor, join a club, get involved in the Student Farm. Sustainability is a really important topic, and UC Davis is a good place to learn about it. “

UC Davis drew international attention for its commitment to sustainability last fall, when it officially opened the doors to UC Davis West Village, the nation’s largest planned zero net energy community. The 130-acre development, which will house about 3,000 students, faculty and staff, is designed to generate as much electricity as it uses over the course of a year.

Sierra Magazine video postcard

Sierra Magazine video postcard

Flash video (1:49)

Produced by Sierra magazine

UC Davis has also established itself as a leader in environmental sustainability through:

Visitors to campus can take a self-guided tour of these and other sustainability highlights by downloading a map or obtaining a print version on campus. A website, Sustainable 2nd Century, launched in 2009 to celebrate UC Davis’ first 100 years, also catalogues sustainable achievements.

In another major initiative, UC Davis is taking the principles of its arboretum -- ranked one of the 10 most beautiful gardens in the U.S. by Stylist Home -- to transition the 900-acre central campus into a public garden that features sustainable maintenance practices and native plants.

Four UC Davis building complexes are certified LEED Platinum, the highest ranking awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council and more than any other UC campus. Among them is the world’s first LEED Platinum winery, brewery and food processing facility, in which a new generation of students is learning to produce fine wine, beer and food using less water and electricity. When the Graduate School of Management's Maurice J. Gallagher Jr., Hall and adjacent conference center earned LEED Platinum, it became the first business school in California to achieve the ranking. Also certified LEED Platinum are the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Gladys Valley Hall and the Tahoe Environmental Research Center.

In addition:

“Over the last six years, Sierra has been privileged to connect with and learn from traditional institutions evolving in nontraditional ways,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine’s editor-in-chief. “With their ever-growing emphasis on environmental responsibility, these schools are channeling the enthusiasm of their students, who consistently cite climate disruption and other environmental issues as the most serious challenges their generation must confront, while demonstrating leadership for other civic institutions.”

Sierra Magazine’s top 10 schools of 2012 are:

1. University of California, Davis (Davis, Calif.)

2. Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)

3. Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.)

4. University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.)

5. University of Connecticut (Hartford, Conn.)

6. University of New Hampshire (Durham, N.H.)

7. Duke University (Durham, N.C.)

8. Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)

9. University of California, Irvine (Irvine, Calif)

10. Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.)

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