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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-22: Water Use

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.26 / 6.00 Valerie Fanning
Compliance Officer
Environmental Health & Safety
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Level of ”Physical Risk QUANTITY” for the institution’s main campus as indicated by the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas:

Total water use (potable and non-potable combined):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total water use 707,492,060 Gallons 752,358,748 Gallons

Potable water use:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use 617,011,736 Gallons 705,483,333 Gallons

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year July 1, 2016 June 30, 2017
Baseline Year July 1, 2005 June 30, 2008

A brief description of when and why the water use baseline was adopted:

Water use baseline was adopted Dec 2013 in accordance with UC Sustainable Practices Policy. Fiscal years 2005-2006, 2006-2007, and 2007-2008 were averaged for a baseline year; this was chosen UC-wide for consistency and reliability of data.

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users":
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 12,958 10,299
Number of employees resident on-site 383 305
Number of other individuals resident on-site and/or staffed hospital beds 1,593 1,266
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 31,921 26,843
Full-time equivalent of employees (staff + faculty) 11,353 9,025
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 0 0
Weighted campus users 37,383.75 30,818

Potable water use per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use per weighted campus user 16,504.81 Gallons 22,891.92 Gallons

Percentage reduction in potable water use per weighted campus user from baseline:

Gross floor area of building space:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Gross floor area 20,956,546 Gross Square Feet 12,763,607 Gross Square Feet

Potable water use per unit of floor area:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use per unit of floor area 29.44 Gallons / GSF 55.27 Gallons / GSF

Percentage reduction in potable water use per unit of floor area from baseline:

Does the institution wish to pursue Part 3 of this credit? (reductions in total water use per acre/hectare of vegetated grounds):

Area of vegetated grounds:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Vegetated grounds 834 Acres 834 Acres

Total water use (potable + non-potable) per unit of vegetated grounds:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total water use per unit of vegetated grounds 848,311.82 Gallons / Acre 902,108.81 Gallons / Acre

Percentage reduction in total water use per unit of vegetated grounds from baseline:

A brief description of the institution's water-related behavior change initiatives, e.g. initiatives to shift individual attitudes and practices such as signage and competitions:

UC San Diego uses water conservation and report leak signs across all building bathrooms, laboratory sinks, and kitchen areas. Aquaholics Anonymous, a student organization mentored by UC San Diego Environmental Health and Safety staff, hold annual water conservation art competitions and table at a variety of events, including our annual Earth Day fair, to raise awareness around conserving water.

A brief description of the institution's water recovery and reuse initiatives:

UC San Diego updated its water action plan (AP) in 2017. We have already met the UC-wide goal of reducing growth-adjusted potable water consumption 20% by 2020 and are now working on the goal of reducing growth-adjusted potable water consumption 36% by 2025, when compared to a three-year average baseline of FY2005/06, FY2006/07, and FY2007/08.

Campus recycled industrial water use increased from 2015-16 FY 17,357,000 gal/year to 75,224,000 gal/year in 2016-17.

To do that, we have put in a place a number of water conservation and reuse strategies, including but not limited to:

- Irrigation, building, and research equipment retrofits to reduce water use.

- Using recycled water for more than 30% of campus irrigation and expanding the number of areas irrigated with recycled water rather than potable water.

- Expanded the use of recycled water for industrial use in the cooling towers at the Central Utilities Plant and on east campus, reducing potable water use by more than 60 million gallons per year.

- Building standards for new construction to improve water efficiency. All new buildings are LEED Silver or better.

- Using electronic controllers to efficiently irrigate the landscape in periods of only 4-6 minutes per cycle. Landscape staff are trained to identify signs of overwatering and water leaks in the irrigation system. In addition, the irrigation system itself tracks unusually high water use, which may signal a leak. In the event of a reported water leakage, UC San Diego’s Facilities Management department responds with an irrigation maintenance crew.

- Planting of low water, drought-tolerant vegetation in 75% of the irrigated campus landscape, turning off irrigation during wet winter months, and turning off irrigation to 54,000 square feet of turf to save 1.53 million gallons of water per year. The campus has retrofitted approximately 7,900 standard sprinklers with high-efficiency rotating nozzles, saving 10 million gallons of water per year. Meters that measure soil moisture that accurately target watering and a computer controlled irrigation system that tracks current weather data and adjusts watering based on temperature and humidity have been installed in select locations on campus and continue to be installed. Since 2014, the campus has eliminated 352,000 square feet.

- Collecting HVAC condensation and wastewater from Reverse Osmosis systems for reuse in irrigation.

- Single pass cooling water in the labs is prohibited. Findensers, which use air, have been issued to labs to replace single pass cooling. Aerators have also been installed in the laboratories as part of our Green Labs Program, saving 2.22 million gallons or 3,000 hundred cubic ft/year of water and $23,600.

- Fire-sprinkler and hydrant testing water is captured for reuse in the Central Utilities Plant cooling towers.

A brief description of the institution's initiatives to replace plumbing fixtures, fittings, appliances, equipment, and systems with water-efficient alternatives (e.g. building retrofits):

Sports Facilities have reduced urinal flush rates 50% by adjusting flush valves. Housing has replaced indoor water fixtures with low flow fixtures. Academic buildings with high indoor water use are retrofitted with low flow flush valves. The Green Labs program by spring 2017 had installed 185 aerators in 3 biology buildings, saving over 1.3 million gallons/year. Finally, single pass cooling is prohibited in all labs.

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

Hillcrest Medical Center water data are not included, while La Jolla Medical Center water data are included.

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.