UC Riverside’s Environmental Ranking is on the Rise

Sierra "Cool Schools" ranks universities for their energy-saving ways

Glen Mor II features drought-tolerant landscaping and energy efficient suites. It is a certified LEED Gold building.

Glen Mor II features drought-tolerant landscaping and energy efficient suites. It is a certified LEED Gold building.

UC Riverside is celebrating the latest Sierra “Cool Schools” Ranking, which puts the campus 27th among 201 universities.

“This has been a long time coming,” said John Cook, sustainability director for UC Riverside. “I think we are finally starting to see some pay off for work on recycling, on water use, on getting waste out of the landfill stream.”

The Sierra Club’s Cool Schools Ranking has existed for 10 years. It is open to all four-year, degree-granting undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. Schools that submitted complete, updated data by our deadline were eligible to be ranked this year.

A Farmshare program makes UC Riverside's footprint a little greener.

A Farmshare program makes UC Riverside’s footprint a little greener.

The Sierra Club works with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) to gather the raw data for the rankings, using what they call a “STARS Reporting Tool” to make sure they are tracking sustainability programs in a way that is consistent.

Cook outlined some of the factors that have helped UC Riverside climb in the rankings:

  • More recognized LEED buildings;
  • A robust program of diverting waste from construction sites away from landfill;
  • Green laboratory programs that engage researchers in recycling lab consumables and conserving water and electricity;
  • Increased use of renewable energy sources;
  • Increased interest in sustainability focused research and academics, including the new Sustainability major.;
  • Close working relationships with UCR students, through fellowship programs funded by the UC Office of the President.
Delphine Faugeroux, of UCR's Sustainability team, shows off an energy efficient freezer. photo by Kris Lovekin

Delphine Faugeroux, UCR’s Green Lab Coordinator, shows off an energy efficient freezer in a lab.
photo by Kris Lovekin

He said the campus still has many ways to improve, and the Office of Sustainability will be working with faculty members to update research equipment to versions that use less energy; to encourage greener transportation, such as electric cars, charging stations and public buses; and to encourage the installation of more solar power.

“My goal is to be at the top of this “Cool Schools” list,” Cook said. “Not only is it the right thing to do for slowing climate change, and for the sustainability of our operation, but incoming college students definitely look at these rankings,” he said.

The University of California has a robust sustainability program that covers all ten campuses and five medical centers. The systemwide programs are driven by a nationally-recognized comprehensive sustainability policy and leading-edge presidential initiatives. The Annual Report on Sustainable Practices provides a review of sustainability progress over the past year.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-4756
E-mail: john.warren@ucr.edu

Additional Contacts

John Cook, director of sustainability
E-mail: john.cook@ucr.edu

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