With green construction, maintenance and operational programs, the UC Merced Environmental Stewardship Program will make the campus a living laboratory, helping create solutions for regional environmental issues.
“The Environmental Stewardship Program truly distinguishes UC Merced from every other institution of higher education,” says program director Cynthia Hughes-Doyle. “Since we’re starting from scratch in the 21st century, we have the chance to use technology at every level to create and maintain a firm campus commitment to conservation. It’s a unique, exciting initiative in which our faculty, staff and students can all participate.”
A key word for environmental stewardship is sustainability. Sustainable practices support ecological, human and economic health and vitality. With its emphasis on sustainability, the UC Merced Environmental Stewardship Program presumes that resources are finite and should be used conservatively and wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences of the ways in which resources are used.
The program’s principal feature is its focus on energy efficiency. The classroom building uses 47 percent less energy than state standards require; the science and engineering building and the library each use 39 percent less. The buildings’ energy-saving features include state-of-the-art mechanical and light systems as well as on-site thermal storage. Most energy-saving initiatives at UC Merced are coordinated through the Central Plant, which was the first campus building to open on March 21, 2005.
Air quality inside and out is another important aspect of the Environmental Stewardship Program. Smart construction and materials usage will keep indoor air on campus clean and healthful. A bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly campus community will promote transportation without pollution.
UC Merced is also making great strides toward significant campus water conservation. The Nathanson Family Foundation has donated 60 waterless urinals for the first phase of campus construction, which will conserve up to 1.2 million gallons of water annually. Efficient irrigation technology and drought-resistant landscaping will keep site water usage 50 percent lower than California standards.
Campus construction at UC Merced is unique in its approach to materials conservation. Using recycled materials and recycling of construction waste reduces consumption of raw materials and sends less trash to landfills.
Dozens of additional initiatives such as green cleaning and landscape maintenance programs, solar energy, minimizing night-sky light pollution, use of local agriculture, and environmental research – all aim to meet current needs without compromising the health of future generations.