With the Earth Day Festival quickly approaching, all things green are hot topics. UCSB earned such distinction this week for securing a top spot in the Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges. Also this week, UCSB announced it’s leading the area in water conservation.
Out of thousands of schools that submitted questionnaires for the Princeton guide, 330 United States institutions — and two Canadian ones — were identified as “green responsible” schools. UCSB was among 22 schools that made the honor roll for securing a perfect score. The criteria included sustainability initiatives, recycling and conservation programs, availability of environmental studies majors, and career guidance in sustainability fields.
In 1970, UCSB became one of the first schools in the nation to enroll students in an environmental studies major, the guide states, and open the Donald BREN School of Environmental School and Management. Now, UCSB has 32 student-oriented sustainability programs, including a renewable energy fund. Further, 50 percent of its food budget is spent on local or organic food and the campus has a waste-diversion rate of 79 percent. (The 200-page guide also provides general admissions stats and states that UCSB accepts 46 percent of applications; 18 percent of acceptees actually attend; and 18,617 individuals make up the student body.)
“Sustainability is increasingly an issue for [college] applicants,” said Jacob Kriss, the spokesperson for U.S. Green Building Council, which teamed up with the Princeton Review to conduct the survey. Kriss added 61 percent of college aspirants recently surveyed indicated how “green” a prospective school is would influence their decision to attend it. “UCSB is particularly notable,” he said, “They are really a leader.” Among the other 22 institutes with a perfect score were California State University, Chico, Mulberry College, Georgia Tech, Portland State, UC Los Angeles, UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, and others.
UCSB also has 29 LEED-certified buildings. (To be LEED-certified, structure materials, resources, and products must meet specific standards. Indoor air quality, how the building is affecting its occupants, and how it’s affecting the surrounding area also come into play.)
Also this week, UCSB announced that it is at the forefront to conserve water. UCSB student residents use on average 28 gallons of water per day (including food service, laundry, hygiene, and irrigation around the dorms). According to the UCSB news website, that figure is much lower than water use in the area; Goleta residents use on average 66 gallons per day; Santa Barbara residents use 86; and Montecito residents use 290. The campus is also the largest user of reclaimed water in the area, the article states, with 90 percent of campus lands irrigated with reclaimed water. In 2011, UCSB reduced its potable water use by 25 percent, triumphing a UC mandate to cut back by 20 percent by 2020.