Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 71.86
Liaison Elida Erickson
Submission Date March 23, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of California, Santa Cruz
IN-4: Innovation 4

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Christina Thomure
Climate Action Manager
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
UCSC Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality by 2025

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

In November 2013, UC President Janet Napolitano announced an initiative committing the system to carbon neutrality by 2025. Around this time, UC Santa Cruz was discussing the need to strategically address the impacts of pending Cap & Trade regulation. The campus also needed to update its 2008 Strategic Energy Plan and 2011 Climate Action Plan. To underscore its vision to “ensure that environmental stewardship pervades all that we do,” UCSC decided to charge forward and lead in the investment of a comprehensive Climate & Energy Strategy (CES) to address the President’s bold initiative.

The two primary goals of the CES were to develop a plan for:
Achieving carbon neutrality for Scopes 1 & 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and
Mitigating the impacts of Cap & Trade regulation associated with campus growth.
The vision for achieving these goals was to implement a collaborative process that resulted in the development of an integrated and dynamic plan presenting an array of strategies that includes specific projects, policies and procurements, detailing financial and emissions impacts and risks.

The objectives for meeting these goals were to:
Ensure the process provided the level of technical detail necessary to ensure a robust analysis and recommendations,
Engage not just with staff during the technical study, but also faculty and students,
Ensure the deliverables were highly visual to easily communicate results and assist in helping decision makers to quickly comprehend impacts, and
Consider the life cycle and total ownership costs of potential strategies for meeting the goals.

The CES included these strategies:
Conduct Level I & II energy audits for 50 of the campus’ most energy intensive buildings, which included over 2.5M SF;
Conduct a campus-wide District Systems Energy Audit to optimize the heating hot water and chilled water loops, and cogeneration plant;
Conduct a Renewable Energy Feasibility study that considers solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, fuel cells and photovoltaic-thermal hybrid technologies;
Develop a techno-economic analysis tool that helps the campus to develop an optimized set of potential strategies that includes the cost and emissions impacts of projects, policies, and procurements;
Engage faculty and students by supporting the development of a Living Lab that enables climate change mitigation research, technology development and experiential learning opportunities.

A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

UCSC engaged a group of pioneering consultant team members to partner in developing the CES. The Climate & Energy Strategy just recently won the Energy Efficiency & Sustainability Best Practices Award for Sustainability Innovation, a competition among all University of California and California State University campuses. The process resulted in the development of 350 energy conservation measures in 50 buildings, 20 photovoltaic, solar thermal & fuel cell projects, 12 district system level energy conservation measures, and an additional 700 energy conservation measures extrapolated across all other buildings.

The Climate and Energy Strategy:
Demonstrates the economic effectiveness of carbon neutrality planning through a comprehensive, technical feasibility study combined with a flexible and robust scenario analysis tool;
Provides a roadmap with specific strategies for achieving neutrality and mitigating regulatory impacts; and
Identifies specific energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to implement by year, considering the impacts on demand and energy use associated with the build-out of the 10-year capital financial plan, and includes specific yearly procurements of biogas, allowances, and offsets through at least 2030.

To develop this roadmap, all energy measures were input into the custom-built techno-economic scenario analysis tool, which generates metrics such as emissions savings, net present value, savings-to-investment ratio, cash flow, cost/MT CO2e through 2055. The CES Team developed 50+ scenarios, analyzed the results, formulated strategies and recommendations, and developed a dynamic plan for implementation. This plan will be a living document that evolves as market conditions change, the campus adds/revises projects, best practices are refined.

The Tool provides great flexibility to modify scenarios and metrics to explore many strategies for neutrality and regulatory mitigation, evaluating cost and emissions impacts of emphasizing different approaches such as onsite projects, procurement, lowest first-cost, emissions reductions, and cost/ton of MTCO2e reduced. UCSC plans to share this Tool with other campuses, provide a customized training and a user manual.

The energy efficiency and renewable measures include energy savings, incentives, materials/labor costs, and financing metrics in absolute-referenced spreadsheets,. The data is easily imported into the Tool and Higher Education Partnership planning documents. This enables UCSC to easily update data, revise results and adjust recommendations All measures will be shared widely and can be used as project templates.

UCSC is capturing all details in the process so it can be replicated and plans to share widely all CES resources. The Team held workshops with 50+ stakeholders at critical milestones to educate them on the CES, present progress to-date, and solicit input.

The Scenario Analysis Tool developed multiple scenarios that incorporated various combinations of strategies to achieve our goals. Below is a summary of findings for one of the top carbon neutrality scenarios that also cost-effectively mitigates the impacts of Cap & Trade regulation. Several strategies are currently being evaluated for consideration as recommendations for the final plan. In this scenario, UCSC would double its current pace of implementing energy efficiency projects and install about 4MW of solar PV.

Total kWh saved through 2025 from Energy Efficiency Projects


Total kWh generated through 2025 from Renewable Projects


Total therms saved through 2025 from Energy Efficiency Projects


Total therms generated through 2025 from Renewable Projects


All reductions assumed through 2025 for scenario described above.

Scope 1 Reductions from EE


Scope 1 Reductions from RE


Scope 1 Reductions from Biogas


Total Scope 1 Reductions (through 2025)


Yearly Avg Scope 1 Reductions


Scope 2 Reductions from EE


Scope 2 Reductions from RE


Scope 2 Reductions from Improved EUIs


Total Scope 2 Reductions (through 2025)


Yearly Avg Scope 2 Reductions


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum ---
Research ---
Campus Engagement ---
Public Engagement ---
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings ---
Dining Services ---
Energy Yes
Grounds ---
Purchasing ---
Transportation ---
Waste ---
Water ---
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work ---
Investment ---

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:

The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

Data source(s) and notes about 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.