Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 88.59
Liaison Richard Demerjian
Submission Date Aug. 11, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of California, Irvine
EN-6: Assessing Sustainability Culture

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Carrie Metzgar
Sustainability and Planning Analyst
Campus Physical and Environmental Planning
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of sustainability culture?:

Which of the following best describes the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered to::
The entire campus community (students and employees) directly or by representative sample

Which of the following best describes the structure of the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered::
Longitudinally to measure change over time

A brief description of how and when the cultural assessment(s) were developed and/or adopted:

Over the past three years, UCI has conducted two cultural assessments to better understand the campus community’s sustainability behaviors, values, and beliefs. The first assessment took place in December 2018 and was coordinated by the UCI Office of Sustainability & Campus Physical and Environmental Planning. In follow-up, the second assessment took place in April 2019. This assessment was called the Cool Campus Challenge (CCC); a coordinated effort amongst the 10 campus in the University of California system. Below is additional information about each assessment.


From April 1 through April 26, 2019, the 10 campuses across the University of California system participated in a competition called the Cool Campus Challenge (CCC) to see which UC location can do the most to reduce its carbon footprint. The CCC is held every few years, so the resulting surveys provide a longitudinal look at campus attitudes.

Participants earned 500 points for completing an online research and evaluation survey. This action was among the top ten most popular actions taken during the Cool Campus Challenge. In 2019, a total of 5,106 participants across the UC system completed the survey, including faculty, staff, and students. Comparatively, in 2015, a total of 3,667 participants across the UC system completed the survey for an average response rate of 19% (22% by staff and 14% by students).

Among other things, the CCC Survey asked participants the following:
- How long they plan to continue their pledged sustainable actions
- How worried they are about climate change
- The causes they believe are causing climate change
- Their belief that their individual actions can make a difference to help reduce climate change
- Their belief that our collective action on campus and in the UC System can make a difference to help reduce climate change

The goal of the CCC and its accompanying survey was to create and assess the culture of sustainability on each of the 10 UC campuses, helping the UC system reach carbon neutrality by 2025.


In December 2018, the UCI Office of Sustainability in collaboration with Campus Physical and Environmental Planning conducted a sustainability culture survey to all staff, faculty, and students. The goal of this fifteen-question online survey was to gain valuable insight to enhance sustainability outreach, education, and programming. While continuing to aspire to even higher levels of excellence at the intuitional level, UCI sustainability stakeholders were also interested in assessing levels of involvement and sustainability culture among its students, faculty, and staff. The primary goal of this survey is to enhance the “ethos of sustainability,” as defined in the UCI 2016 strategic plan (https://strategicplan.uci.edu/). The survey plans to be held every few years in order to measure change over time, and ideally during the off-years of the CCC. The next survey is anticipated for distribution the end of 2021 or early 2022.

A copy or sample of the questions related to sustainability culture:
A sample of the questions related to sustainability culture or the website URL where the assessment tool is available:



- Take the cool climate calculator
- Review the carbon neutrality initiative
- Start green office certification
- Be a cool ambassador

- Get transportation savvy
- Fly more sustainably
- Turn off your car
- Virtually attend a meeting

- Reduce and reuse
- Go meatless for a day
- Eliminate single-use items
- Go paperless
- Eliminate your personal printer

- Buy used, rather than new
- Right-size your groceries and meals

- Reduce your computer power usage
- Wash your laundry in cold water
- Reduce energy use in common areas
- Turn down the brightness on your monitor
- Run full loads of dishes and laundry

- Dress for the weather

These questions assess climate change in relation to sustainability. For example how sustainable actions contribute to meeting carbon neutrality goals.

- How sure are you that climate change is happening?
- If climate change is happening, do you think it is caused mostly by human activities, natural cycles, other, no answer, or none of the above?
- How worried are you about climate change?
- How much do you agree with the following - My actions can make a difference to help reduce climate change.
- What was your knowledge of the Carbon Neutrality Initiative before participating in the Cool Campus Challenge?
- Are initiatives like the carbon neutrality initiative important to you in your choice to work or
go to school at UC?
- How did you hear about the Cool Campus Challenge?
- How often do you participate in offerings/communications from your sustainability office
(newsletters, Facebook, trainings, etc.)?
- How would you rate the communication you have had with local program implementers?
- How long do you anticipate you will keep up the actions you pledged to take during the Challenge?
- Overall, how would you rate the Cool Campus Challenge program?
- Do you volunteer for an environmental non-profit organization?

The assessment tool is no longer active online now that the Challenge is complete. To view all the assessment questions, see the Cool Campus Challenge 2019 Report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wOLacvdjrJkLp5A6VDoeOPobrrxKe6W1/view?usp=sharing


*A copy of the assessment questions is attached above.

A brief description of how representative samples were reached (if applicable) and how the cultural assessment is administered:


The Division of Finance and Administration sent weekly emails to all students, staff, and faculty about the Cool Campus Challenge (CCC) through ZotMail, UCI’s primary electronic system. The emails encouraged campus participation in the assessment, announced prizes and giveaways, and promoted upcoming events and activities associated with the CCC. Weekly ZotMails also included updates on UCI’s ranking level in the competition. Additional communications took place through the UCI Sustainability Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as the main UCI Facebook and Instagram pages. The assessment was administered online at http://www.coolcampuschallenge.org/.


The survey team used SurveyMonkey.com as an online platform for implementation and data collection. The team formulated the survey questions based on systemic information gaps while keeping the user experience simple, easy and fast. An invitation to participate in the survey was sent by ZotMail to all students, faculty, and staff (about 45,000 people) with an incentive to win $25 Amazon gift cards.

A brief summary of results from the cultural assessment:


Across the entire UC system, a total of 21,834 people participated in the 2019 CCC (in comparison to 19,388 people in 2015). UCI earned 3rd place in the systemwide Cool Campus Challenge, with 3,258 students, staff, and faculty participating and making a pledge to live more sustainably. Pledges and self-reported actions by the campus community helped to save 2.9 million pounds of carbon emissions, the equivalent to the amount of electricity used by 239 homes in one year.

The goal of the CCC is to make energy conscious behaviors standard practice across the UC campuses, helping to build a culture of carbon consciousness that engenders pride and recognition for the UC system as a whole. Results from the CCC survey help inform our understanding of the culture of sustainability among the UC campuses:

- Based on the survey results, most of the participants heard about the CCC from an email from a campus administrator (37.23%) or from a colleague (15.55%). This connection to administration and colleagues is essential for creating a culture of sustainability on campuses, which is the ultimate goal of the program.
- 76% (compared to 70% in the 2015 Cool Campus Challenge) of respondents that were asked “Now that the Challenge has ended, how long do you anticipate you will keep up the actions you pledged to take during the Challenge?" responded 6 or more months.
- Only 2% of respondents answered “I do not plan to continue my actions.”
- Participants were overwhelmingly sure climate change is happening (93% sure or extremely sure compared to 88% sure or extremely sure in 2015).
- 81% of participants indicated that they were extremely or very worried about climate change.
- An overwhelming amount of participants (90.61%) believe that climate change is caused mostly by human activities
- A majority of participants strongly agree that our collective action on campus and in the UC System can make a difference to help reduce climate change.

To view a full summary of results from the cultural assessment, view this presentation delivered at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC): https://chesc.org/wp-content/uploads/Jewel-Snavely-CCC-Presentation-for-CHESC_9.7.2019-at-8AM_MSI-Auditorium.pdf

*The 2019 Cool Campus Challenge was a follow-up to the 2015 campaign in assessing UC campus culture of sustainability.


The total number of participants in the survey was 1,132, of which 477 were undergraduate students, 233 were graduate students, 349 staff and 73 faculty (four sample groups). The completion rate was 91% and the average time to complete was 4:40 minutes. The following are some of the main results of the survey.

- About 92% of the students, faculty, and staff recognize the importance of individuals and communities to act on sustainability.
- 90% of students, faculty, and staff understand the interdisciplinarity of sustainability.
- Sustainability is not a primary reason for working or studying at UCI. At least 40% of faculty and staff did not consider sustainability when they chose to work at UCI.
- Most people (58% of students, 70% of faculty and staff) feel empowered to contribute to sustainability through their experience at UCI. Staff expressed the highest agreement while grad students expressed the lowest agreement.
- Awareness levels of campus sustainability initiatives and goals are 50% on average. On average, staff are more aware of the different initiatives, especially of the carbon neutrality initiative, zero waste, and green buildings. Awareness levels off food service goals are significantly lower among graduate students and faculty.
- While we saw that people understand the interdisciplinarity of sustainability, it appears they are not interested in all its aspects at the same level. Climate change is has the highest level of interest whereas community resilience has the lowest level of interest.
- Transportation behaviors are varied between the groups and are likely to be affected mainly by the place of residence rather than by choice of sustainable transportation options. Biking, carpooling and public transportations levels are very low. Walking to school is a popular behavior for students but much less for staff.
- Undergraduate students eat more meat, and in general, less sustainable food. It seems that there is a linear correlation between economic levels and sustainable food behaviors.
- About 50% of people are likely to purchase an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid as their next car.

View the full summary of results here:

Website URL where information about the assessment of sustainability culture is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:


UC Irvine earns 3rd place in the UC Cool Campus Challenge 2.0: https://sustainability.uci.edu/ucool2/

Cool Campus Challenge winners announced: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/berkeley-crowned-coolest-uc-campus

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.