Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 79.54
Liaison Kelli O'Day
Submission Date June 20, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of California, Davis
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Kelli O'Day
Assessment Program Manager
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level:

At the direction of the UC Davis Chancellor, UC Davis advocates within the local community for sustainability related policies, programs, and funding. The campus participates formally in local community transportation and transit planning efforts, downtown redevelopment, habitat conservation, water supply, groundwater sustainability, homelessness resources, and housing advocacy on the topic of rental resource for tenants that affect many aspects of sustainability.

Examples of this advocacy include the formal participation by UC Davis in multiple local governmental entities including local cities, counties, and joint-powers authorities enacted for specific sustainability measures. UC Davis staffing and advocacy details and priorities are led by the UC Davis Office of the Chancellor. Through these governmental entities, UC Davis advocates for funding, policies, and organizational management with a perspective of utilizing the best available data for long-term success and careful consideration of public policy tradeoffs.

For the Yolo County Habitat Conservancy, UC Davis initiated and has participated in early planning to protect the critical habitat of threatened, endangered, and sensitive species for more than 20 years. UC Davis participates as a formal board member to the Yolo Habitat Conservancy Joint Powers Authority and assists with land acquisition, organizational management of the authority, grant funding, and permit acquisition to comply with the state and federal endangered species acts and to enact land conservation beyond the required minimums of the state and federal acts. The advocacy role of UC Davis to protect 12 identified sensitive species has resulted in securing funding, permits, and land protection expected for more than 30,000 acres of critical habitat in Yolo County during the 50 year period of the adopted habitat conservation plan. This long-term advocacy effort has shown that sustainability efforts are best coordinated with the assistance of multiple public partners. The collaborative effort of UC Davis, Yolo County, and the cities of Davis, Winters, Woodland and West Sacramento has created land development policies that were then adopted at the local level as development regulations. These efforts focus on efficient protection and conservation of habitat lands and provide long-term funding and public oversight to maintain the high habitat values of each land parcel.

Other similar examples include the UC Davis leadership participation in the Yolo County Transportation District, downtown redevelopment within the City of Davis to limit suburban sprawl, surface water supply to avoid use of groundwater, groundwater sustainability planning, homelessness resources to rehouse individuals. As another example, UC Davis is advocating for rental resources for protecting the needs of tenants and improving energy efficiency of rental properties within the City of Davis.

Yolo Habitat Conservancy: https://www.yolohabitatconservancy.org/

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level:

UC State Government Relations (SGR) serves as the University’s primary representative to state elected officials and agencies, providing advocacy on legislation and public policies that provide for, extend, and enhance the University’s authority to conduct its business operations in a manner that is efficient and sustainable as well as advocating against measures that would limit this authority.

As an example, during the 2020-2021 legislative session, the University of California supported the following legislative bills related to sustainability challenges:

AB 369, which would have streamlined Medi-Cal enrollment and service delivery for persons experiencing homelessness by enabling providers to bill for services furnished in nontraditional settings.

SB 40, which establishes the California Medicine Scholars Program within OSHPD to establish a regional pipeline program for community college students to pursue premedical training and enter medical school.

SB 332, which provides that a burn boss and a private landowner upon whose property a burn boss carries out a prescribed burn are immune from liability for damages or injuries to persons or property as the result of a prescribed burn.

UC SGR also worked proactively with the authors of the proposed climate adaptation bonds in spring of 2020. While the bonds did not pass, UC staff were closely involved in their development within the California State Senate, the California State Assembly, and the Governor’s office. Had these proposals been approved, they resulting funds would have been spent primarily on building and retrofitting projects, as well as state grants to communities to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Annually, UC Davis works with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) Office of Federal and State Relations to establish a legislative platform. The platform is approved by the UC Regents with input by UCOP and UC Chancellors. At UC Davis, the Chancellor works with the Office of Government and Community Relations to establish campus legislative priorities. The 2021-22 University of California budget request to the State of California included a one-time investment of $175 million for deferred maintenance and energy efficiency upgrade projects.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level:

UC Davis engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the federal level in a variety of ways. UC Davis is home to the top College of Agriculture and Environmental Science in the United States of America, and with its location in the northern part of the California Central Valley, sustainability and policies that promote it, are especially important to UC Davis, the region and industries therein. UC Davis is home to the Agricultural Sustainability Institute and the Tahoe Environmental Research Center, and has a long history of sustainability activism highlighted by UC Davis famously hosting President Clinton and Vice President Gore in 1997 on our Tahoe Research Vessel to conduct a clarity test and help enable the passing of Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2000 that launched an impressive public-private partnership that has since invested $1.9 billion in conservation, transportation, and restoration projects around the Tahoe basin.
Agricultural Sustainability Institute Website: https://asi.ucdavis.edu/
Tahoe Environmental Research Center Website: https://tahoe.ucdavis.edu/
Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2000: https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=CBDE9C48-2C2C-4B85-9AD8-49FE67E377C9

Every year, UC Davis advocates for robust funding for federal agencies that affect sustainability research and specifically highlights impacts to sustainability in our justification for funding. Examples include:

(1) NIFA Research, Education and Extension Programs that enable UC’s partnership with California’s agricultural producers and ensure a safe, secure and plentiful supply of food and energy, as well as clean and sustainable air, water and other natural resources.

(2) AFRI, which funds competitive research on human nutrition and health, agricultural productivity and sustainability, renewable energy and biofuels, water supply, and air and water quality.

(3) NASA Earth Science programs, the mission of which is to “develop a scientific understanding of the Earth system and its response to natural and human-induced changes...[which] enables us to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards.”

(4) Oceanic and Atmospheric Research programs. UC researchers rely on NOAA competitive research funding for the collection of climate, weather and water data, including ocean observing for accurate weather forecasting, which is essential to California agriculture, energy and fisheries. Also included within OAR is Sustained Ocean Observations and Monitoring.

(5) Department of Energy Office of Science, the primary federal agency supporting basic physical sciences research, which are vitally important to our country’s economic and national security. OS research at UC includes basic energy sciences, advanced clean energy sources, energy efficiency technologies, biological and environmental research.

(6) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). UC supports funding for programs within EERE that support UC and the UC-affiliated labs to research, develop, demonstrate and deploy clean energy technologies.

(7) EPA Science and Technology programs to protect human health and the environment. EPA’s research programs include Air, Climate and Energy (ACE), Safe and Sustainable Water Resources (SSWR), Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC) and Chemical Safety for Sustainability (CSS).

Beyond advocating for robust federal investment in sustainability science and research, UC Davis constantly engages in sustainability outreach and education at the federal level to inform public policy and highlight the need for sustainable practices. Examples include:

(1) The Tahoe Environmental Research Center’s annual State of the Lake report and role in the presenting the science of the lake at the annual Tahoe Summit, a joint Congressional venture between CA and Nevada to restore and preserve the lake

(2) Quarterly legislative Congressional briefings to our regional Congressional delegation highlighting UC Research and its impact

(3) Visits from federal legislators outside of our area who are interested in our sustainability work, like when Congresswoman Chellie Pingree from Maine came to UC Davis to tour our Student Farm, hear about our sustainability efforts, and provide comments at a forum called “Farm to Table & Back Again: Innovations to Feed More with Less”

(4) Bringing members of Congress and staff to campus to view our UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester at the campus’ former landfill, which converts campus waste to campus energy
Article about the UC Davis Anaerobic Digester: https://engineering.ucdavis.edu/blog/uc-davis-biodigester-turns-campus-waste-campus-energy/

(5) Highlighting to Congressional members and staff the UC Davis West Village community, the largest planned zero net energy community in the United States
UC Davis West Village Website: https://westvillage.ucdavis.edu/

(6) Showcasing the Western Cooling Efficiency Center, the Energy and Efficiency Institute, and the California Lighting Technology Center; and especially their partnership with Honda to create one of the most advanced, zero net energy smart homes in West Village on the UC Davis campus – the Honda Smart Home
Western Cooling Efficiency Center Website: https://wcec.ucdavis.edu/
Energy and Efficiency Institute Website: https://energy.ucdavis.edu/
CA Lighting Technology Center Website: https://cltc.ucdavis.edu/
The Honda Smart Home Website: https://its.ucdavis.edu/slide-show/honda-smart-home-opening-tuesday-march-25/

(7) National Center for SUSTAINABLE Transportation. UC Davis is home to one of a handful of national University transportation centers and the only center focused on sustainability.

UC Federal Government Relations is the University’s liaison to the federal government, working with Congress, the administration, federal agencies and national organizations to advocate for the University and its missions in education, research and public service. Examples include:

(1) Convening UC faculty and staff to host Congressional briefings. Congressional briefings that highlight the impact of the University’s sustainability efforts on campus operations and showcase UC as a model for other institutions are a part of the University’s effort to demonstrate the value of investing in UC and advocate for the federal funding that supports the University’s energy and sustainability goals.

(2) Participating in DC lobby days, including the annual Coalition for National Science Funding Day on Capitol Hill. Representatives from UC campuses attend meetings with members of Congress and their staff and contribute to the National Science Foundation (NSF) project exhibit.

(3) On June 2, 2017, one day after the White House announced that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, the University of California released a statement affirming its commitments to the goals of the Paris agreement and doubling down on its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. UC simultaneously launched a call to members of the UC community through the university’s UC Advocacy Network (UCAN) urging students to make pledges to support and work with California’s Governor, Congressional delegation, and state legislators to ensure that California and the UC system stay at the forefront of combating global climate change.

(4) The UC System continues to pursue state cap-and-trade revenue and other sources of funding for campus energy-efficiency projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower future energy costs. Many of the proposed projects would also serve as highly visible demonstrations for state-of-the-art energy conservation technologies.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level:

UC Davis is home to four of USAID’s (United States Agency for International Development) Feed the Future Innovation Labs, enabled through the Global Food Security Act, and which draw on the expertise of top U.S. universities and developing country research institutions to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges in agriculture and food security.

UC Davis is also home to the World Food Center, which mobilizes the resources of UC Davis to promote innovative, sustainable, and equitable food systems.
World Food Center Website: https://worldfoodcenter.ucdavis.edu/

The University of California has a Global Food Initiative to address one of the critical issues of our time: how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach eight billion by 2025.
UC Global Food Initiative Website: https://www.ucop.edu/global-food-initiative/

A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):

State Level: As a state agency we don’t take political positions. Just policy/advocacy.

National Level: UC has taken a strong position on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and immigration issues, defending our students who live, work, and study in the only country they know as home.

A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):


Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability advocacy efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.