In 2013, University of California President Janet Napolitano announced the ambitious Carbon Neutral Initiative for all of the schools in the UC System. This initiative committed all ten of the UC campuses to emitting net zero greenhouse gases from their buildings and vehicle fleets by 2025. A goal that no other university system had at the time, set to attain.
Although it will be challenging, The University of California San Diego has since taken a number of measures to reach the objective of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. Prior to the announcement of the initiative, UCSD had always upheld the reputation as a green university, but there were still a number of changes that needed to be made in order to reach that net zero emission goal.
One of the biggest challenges the university faced came in the form of transportation. For a long time, a lack of necessary infrastructure limited the ways students could travel to campus. In an article from the UCSD News Center, Gary C. Mathews, Vice Chancellor of Resource Management and Planning stated that “UC San Diego was originally planned for cars, not bikes.” With that being the case, one thing the university had to do was increase the resources that students, faculty, and staff needed to utilize alternative methods of commuting to and from campus. This included creating a better sense of overall connectedness for students using active transportation to get around.
In 2015, UCSD announced that construction would be underway for the University Center Bike and Pedestrian Improvements project. A project where pathways throughout the campus received a number of advancements creating safe and separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians. The new paths were created to encourage more students to bike and hopefully reduce the number of cars on campus.
This past September, the University opened the Mesa Nueva Graduate Student Housing Community, the first of three villages in a new campus student housing project. Bringing this community to the Eastern portion of campus, the university also announced that they were in the works with Caltrans to build a bridge over Interstate 5 for cyclists and pedestrians to get directly from the student apartments to campus. The university is also making sure to support that new connectivity by providing one bike rack for every resident living in the Mesa Nueva community.
Along with creating a stronger sense of campus connectedness, the University also plans to work towards their carbon neutral goal by incorporating a number of sustainable elements into the Mesa Nueva student housing community. According to the University News Center, these features include “Renewable energy sources, low-flow plumbing fixtures, drought tolerant/native planting, enhanced daylight harvesting for energy efficiency as well as covered bike storage and alternative transportation enhancements.”
Following a model based on students never having to worry about leaving campus, UC San Diego is taking a huge step in the right direction of reaching their carbon neutral goal by 2025, and on the right track to becoming a bike-friendly university.
All three villages of the Mesa Nueva housing community along with the completion of the Gilman bridge are expected to be completed by the Fall of 2020. They are expected to offer housing options for at least 50 percent of eligible students on campus.
Keep up the great work UCSD!