Notes on "Carbon Neutrality: Why Universities Should be Trying to Attain it" by Matt St. Clair

By Victoria Osio and Jasmine Pineda |
University of California, Riverside. –

   Jasmine and I were in the audience of our guest speaker's lecture early January, here're our notes on the slides and points discussed on the third floor of the H.U.B by Matt St. Clair, the UC Director of Sustainability. The Purpose of his lecture: Understanding why universities should achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. 

   The University of California's Plan focuses on Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Scope 1, are greenhouse gas emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by UC. Scope 2, are utilities purchased by UC. 

*Reasons we’ve had trouble achieving this goal: There is a crisis due to lack in the education system.
*Reasons we can do it: We have the faculty, we’re in it for the long haul, public service, and student energy.

Ways we have improved over the years:

  • Renewable energy went from .1MW to 52 MW
  • Green buildings went from 1 LEED to 301 LEED certifications total.
  • We began with no money for energy efficiency to $300MM and savings.
  • There was no recognition of GHG’s to ACUPCC Founding Signatories to Climate Commitment.
  • No sustainability in purchasing contracts to suppliers reporting on performance to market signals for new sustainable products.
  • One full time sustainability staff to 40 full time sustainability employees.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions went down by 5% despite continuous campus growth.
  • Reduced utility expenses.
  • UC Goal: UC will switch to 100% clean electricity by 2025 (more on-site renewable power than any other university).
  • Buy 20% sustainable food products (already achieved by most UC campuses).
  • LED challenge: zero waste to landfills by 2020, 69% of waste was diverted from landfills.
  • UC’s carbon footprint: natural gas challenge.
  • Do not grow the problem, transform existing buildings, high-carbon to low-carbon energy sources (biomethane)

*Reasons for setback: Insufficient communications, lack of leadership (organizational errors)