UC Merced Signs On for Climate Accountability

MERCED - From energy-efficient buildings with sun-shading to campuswide recycling, UC Merced already has a history of following through on its commitment to sustainability.

Now, the campus has defined a pathway for future compliance with stringent standards for climate accountability by becoming a member of the California Climate Action Registry, which was established by California statute as a non-profit voluntary registry for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This nonprofit organization helps California companies and organizations to establish GHG emissions baselines against which any future GHG emission reduction requirements may be applied.

UC Merced announces its participation in the registry in conjunction with the campus-designated Energy Awareness Day today, which was initiated by a UC Merced student club, the Green Club. Energy Awareness displays will be available around the Student Life area on the first floor of the Kolligian Library.

"The climate action registry offers us a way to report our greenhouse gas emissions and have them independently verified," said campus energy manager John Elliott, who will be participating in Energy Awareness Day. "Our long-term goal is to become climate neutral, in keeping with the goals and policies of the entire UC system."

Climate neutral, Elliott explained, means reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible through efficiency or renewable energy generation, and then offsetting any remaining emissions by encouraging others to reduce their own emissions. This could happen through a market system where one user purchases credits for someone else's reduction. UC Merced could also take action directly or help other organizations to reduce their emissions - for example, by planting trees or improving agricultural practices.

Other UC campuses are signing on to the climate action registry, as well - UC Berkeley announced its participation last month.

"UC Merced has the advantage of brand-new buildings and advanced systems," Elliott said.

"We control energy use on the entire campus from one place. That makes it a lot easier to monitor what is efficient or inefficient. It's an amazing resource and a great tool for reducing our energy use and to study building energy science."

The UC System's draft energy policy is expected to mirror the California state energy policy initiated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, essentially committing to the goals of the Kyoto Accords. Elliott is in the process of compiling detailed plans to describe how UC Merced will meet its goals.

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