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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.02
Liaison Sara McKinstry
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of California, San Diego
OP-1: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.47 / 10.00 David Weil
Director of Sustainability and Carbon Neutrality
VC RMP/Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution conducted a GHG emissions inventory that includes all Scope 1 and 2 emissions? :

Does the institution’s GHG emissions inventory include all, some or none of its Scope 3 GHG emissions from the following categories?:
All, Some, or None
Business travel Some
Commuting All
Purchased goods and services None
Capital goods None
Waste generated in operations None
Fuel- and energy-related activities not included in Scope 1 or Scope 2 None
Other categories None

A copy of the most recent GHG emissions inventory:
A brief description of the methodology and/or tool used to complete the GHG emissions inventory, including how the institution accounted for each category of Scope 3 emissions reported above:

UC San Diego uses The Climate Registry General Protocol and CRIS Reporting tool for Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Commuting emissions are calculated using survey data from Transportation Services/Commute Solutions. Business Air Travel emissions are calculated using the campus air miles traveled from Connexxus and the formula from AASHE and UNH SIMAP (formerly the Clean Air - Cool Planet Campus Carbon Calculator).

Has the GHG emissions inventory been validated internally by personnel who are independent of the GHG accounting and reporting process and/or verified by an independent, external third party?:

A brief description of the internal and/or external verification process:

UC San Diego uses an ANSI and The Climate Registry (TCR) accredited verification body to validate our emissions that are reported to TCR and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Documentation to support the internal and/or external verification process:

Does the institution wish to pursue Part 2 and Part 3 of this credit? (reductions in Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions):

Gross Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Gross Scope 1 GHG emissions from stationary combustion 166,217.98 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 152,485 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent
Gross Scope 1 GHG emissions from other sources 5,485.84 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 5,701 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent
Gross Scope 2 GHG emissions from purchased electricity 29,274.83 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 31,120 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent
Gross Scope 2 GHG emissions from other sources 1,989.87 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent
Total 202,968.53 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 189,306 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year Jan. 1, 2015 Dec. 31, 2016
Baseline Year Jan. 1, 2008 Dec. 31, 2008

A brief description of when and why the GHG emissions baseline was adopted (e.g. in sustainability plans and policies or in the context of other reporting obligations):

We began using a 2008 baseline in 2013/2014.

Figures needed to determine total carbon offsets:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Third-party verified carbon offsets purchased (exclude purchased RECs/GOs) 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent
Institution-catalyzed carbon offsets generated 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent
Carbon sequestration due to land that the institution manages specifically for sequestration 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent
Carbon storage from on-site composting 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent
Carbon offsets included above for which the emissions reductions have been sold or transferred by the institution 11,759 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent
Net carbon offsets 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent

A brief description of the offsets in each category reported above, including vendor, project source, verification program and contract timeframes (as applicable):

The University of California (UC) is obligated under California state law AB 32 to comply with the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) cap-and-trade program. Currently, five campuses — UC San Diego, UC Los Angeles, UC Irvine, UC San Francisco, and UC Davis and UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento -- have carbon emissions above the 25,000 mtCO2e threshold established by CARB and are required to hold an allowance for each ton of CO2e that they emit from onsite combustion of fossil fuels.

As such, UC San Diego currently participates in the California cap-and-trade compliance market using carbon offsets to cover approximately 8% of its compliance obligations: https://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/offsets/offsets.htm. The Regents of the University of California are the official buyer and retire the allowances through the UC Office of the President's Energy Services Unit. The verification program is the California Air Resources Board with approved offset protocols under the cap and trade program. The file titled "UC Compliance Account Transactions though to 03-2018" in the zipped file titled "UC San Diego CARB Allowances Files" lists the projects from which the offsets originated.

More info:



UCOP contact for more information: Nick Ballesteri, ‭(510) 987-0951‬, [email protected]

Emissions reductions attributable to Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) or Guarantee of Origin (GO) purchases:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Emissions reductions attributable to REC/GO purchases 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 0 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent

A brief description of the purchased RECs/GOs including vendor, project source and verification program:

Adjusted net Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Adjusted net Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 202,968.53 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 189,306 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent

Figures needed to determine “Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 12,958 9,549
Number of employees resident on-site 383 1,601
Number of other individuals resident on-site and/or staffed hospital beds 1,593 548
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 31,921 27,750
Full-time equivalent of employees (staff + faculty) 11,353 15,784
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 0 0
Weighted campus users 37,383.75 35,986

Adjusted net Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Adjusted net Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions per weighted campus user 5.43 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent 5.26 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent

Percentage reduction in adjusted net Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions per weighted campus user from baseline:

Gross floor area of building space, performance year:
21,387,381 Gross Square Feet

Floor area of energy intensive building space, performance year:
Floor Area
Laboratory space 4,812,061 Square Feet
Healthcare space 2,292,247 Square Feet
Other energy intensive space 166,929 Square Feet

EUI-adjusted floor area, performance year:
35,762,926 Gross Square Feet

Adjusted net Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions per unit of EUI-adjusted floor area, performance year:
0.01 MtCO2e / GSF

Scope 3 GHG emissions, performance year:
Business travel 15,123 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent
Commuting 59,951 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent
Purchased goods and services ---
Capital goods ---
Fuel- and energy-related activities not included in Scope 1 or Scope 2 ---
Waste generated in operations ---
Other categories ---

A brief description of the institution’s GHG emissions reduction initiatives, including efforts made during the previous three years:

UC San Diego has long been a leader in climate change research and education, starting with Dr. Charles Keeling's groundbreaking work, which showed that rising levels of atmospheric carbon could be correlated to fossil fuel emissions. Owing to this heritage, UCSD continues to be committed to being a good steward of the environment and reducing its carbon footprint.

Building on early student led efforts to promote sustainable practices, in November 2013, the UC President implemented a carbon neutrality initiative (CNI) to make University of California operations carbon neutral in scope 1 (direct) and 2 (indirect) emissions by 2025. The initiative also requires campuses to achieve full carbon neutrality including emissions from campus commuters and business air travel by 2050.

UC San Diego is currently updating its 2008 climate action plan (CAP) to meet these goals. We have made great progress already:

- Since 2001, our highly efficient, ultra-low emission cogeneration plant has generated over 75% of the La Jolla campus' energy.

- In 2008 we began an aggressive energy efficiency program that has completed over $100M in energy efficiency projects, saving the campus more than $8M in annual energy costs. Over the next 10 years we plan to do an additional $100M in efficiency work. Our energy program has been nationally recognized for its leadership and innovation in applying state-of-the-art energy management practices to minimize campus environmental impacts.

- We established a highly innovative, world-class microgrid and "Energy Research Park" that serves as a living laboratory for integrating cutting-edge technology into campus operations. We've won many awards for our microgrid, including a 2017 IBCON "Digital Innovation (Digie) Award for Most Intelligent College Campus."

- We incorporated large-scale thermal energy storage capacity into the La Jolla campus chilled water system to reduce peak load and energy costs.

- We've installed the largest university electric vehicle charging system in the country, as well as operating a 100% renewably sourced compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station. In 2017 the campus installed an additional 18 Level II EV chargers bringing the campus total to 78 Level II and 4 DC fast chargers. In addition to these, the campus added 50 "make ready stub ups" that can be used for future charger installations. Along with the campus' 8 Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) chargers, this makes UC San Diego's EV charging infrastructure one of the largest and most diverse of any university campus in the country. In 2017 we and our San Diego-based parnter Nuvve Corporation received a $4.2 million CEC grant to add more funding to deploy "Vehicle to Grid" charging platforms on 50 new UC San Diego electric vehicle chargers, allowing parked electric vehicles to become part of grid as battery storage.

- We've converted the University's fleet to more than 60% alternative fuel vehicles. We received a 2016 Diamond Award, Platinum Tier, from the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) in recognition of our commitment to alternative forms of transportation.

- All our new building construction is at least LEED Silver -- often Gold and Plantinum -- and we are looking at more aggressive EUI targets for buildings. With the addition of a 250 kW/500 kWh battery energy storage system to its 280 kW solar system, UC San Diego's Receiving and Distribution Center is now a near net-zero energy facility.

As the campus moves towards the future and meeting its carbon emission reduction goals, there are already new programs underway or planned to help meet the challenge, including additional energy efficiency retrofits, extension of the Mid-Coast Trolley to the La Jolla campus, expansion of the campus' electric vehicle infrastructure and new electric vehicle procurement options.

While much of the focus of the CAP is on campus operations, the Plan embraces the vision of a student-centered university using experiential learning techniques to provide opportunities for students to gain real-world experience. Through involvement in the CAP process students will be able to learn by doing, gaining valuable problem solving and leadership skills as they tackle the complex, inter-connected issues involved in climate planning and achieving carbon neutrality. To this end it will be extremely important that students remain a cornerstone of the CAP process. Offering educational as well as research opportunities for students and faculty will be integral to successful CAP implementation.

Since the baseline year there has been a significant increase in total campus square footage, especially in energy intensive space, which has led to increased energy use and subsequent emissions. However, due to the initiatives mentioned here UC San Diego has been able to reduce its emissions per campus weighted user.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

As noted previously, the gross square footage and physical boundary for UC San Diego's climate/greenhouse gas reporting includes our Hillcrest Medical Center, while the physical boundary and gross square footage for our other reporting do not. As a result, the GSF for GHG reporting does not match that used elsewhere in this report.

Other contacts:

GHG reporting: Valerie Fanning and Sam Peterson, EH&S Environmental Affairs
Energy and utilities: John Dilliott
Microgrid, EV infrastructure, and research: Byron Washom

TCR established a new requirement for 2015 that includes reporting core heating in leased spaces (natural gas) that do not receive a utility bill. This amount was 2,653.17 mtCO2e that was never reported before.

2012 is the first year for which we have third party verified data.

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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.