Climate Action

UC San Diego is demonstrating how an institution can sustain itself while positively impacting the environment. We were the first California university to join the California Climate Action Registry, a voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) registry and we are members of the Chicago Climate Exchange, a financial institution formed in 2000 to apply financial innovation and incentives to further social, environmental, and economic goals.

In 2008, UC San Diego developed a Climate Action Plan (PDF) to:

  • Establish a target date for achieving and maintaining climate neutrality
  • Establish interim goals and actions for reducing GHG emissions
  • Determine how the campus will include sustainability in curriculum, student experience, and research
  • Set goals for reducing emissions and waste impacts through purchasing, campus operations, transportation, and water use
  • Develop methods for tracking progress and securing financing

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

UC San Diego plans to reduce its GHG emissions to:

  • 2000 levels by 2013
  • 1990 levels by 2020
  • Achieve climate neutrality by 2025
  • Reduce campus fleet emissions by at least 4.7% per year, based on the previous year’s emissions, until 2020 and by at least 4% per year from 2021-2050


  • Improve building energy and water efficiency
  • Construct new buildings to meet or exceed LEED Gold standards and achieve LEED Silver where LEED Gold is not possible
  • Continue to certify existing buildings under the LEED-EB program
  • Use green cleaning products
  • Reduce water usage by 4% per year for the next 5 years
  • Become a zero-waste campus by 2020


  • Achieve 50% post-consumer waste (PCW) recycled content in all paper purchases by 2012
  • Reduce per capita paper use from 1,568 to 1,066 sheets per person per year by 2012, an 8% decrease
  • Reduce the total amount of printers, copiers, and other applicable electronic equipment purchased
  • Improve the energy efficiency of all office electronic equipment, using the guidelines from the Climate Savers program
  • Partner with green vendors

For details, see Environmentally Friendly Buying.


Air Travel

At a minimum, reduce per-capita emissions from air travel by:

  • 11% reduction each year from 2009-2010, based on the previous year’s emissions
  • 7% reduction each year from 2011-2020, based on the previous year’s emissions
  • 5% reduction each year from 2021-2050, based on the previous year’s emissions


  • At a minimum, reduce GHG emissions from commuting by 2% per year, based on the previous year’s emissions, from 2009 to 2050
  • At a minimum, reduce the percentage of commuters using single-occupancy vehicles from 49% to 39% by 2018


  • Continue to reduce overall water use by 4% per year while increasing us of recycled water, if possible
  • Sub-meter 100% of water for buildings and landscaping

Work Groups

  • The Climate Solutions Work Group, comprised of senior faculty, researchers, operational staff, and administrators implements a broad range of sustainability initiatives, including management of the Climate Action Plan. Political and business leaders routinely attend the meetings of this group to discuss strategies for leveraging UC San Diego’s environmental leadership.
  • Our Advisory Committee on Sustainability provides perspective to our administration regarding academic programs, faculty planning, campus operations, and areas for improvement.