University of California: San Diego

UC San Diego students learn about climate change and sustainability from hundreds of courses, academic programs and co-curricular initiatives. Courses are taught on topics from biofuels to the impact of climate change on human genomics to new energy technologies, and we have a master’s program in climate science and policy. A course based on the UC faculty-authored report “Bending the Curve: Ten scalable solutions for carbon neutrality and climate stability” ( is taught by UC San Diego faculty and in 2018 will be available online to every UC student. In 2016, over 20 faculty, many teaching general writing or education courses, participated in a workshop on how to include climate science and policy into their courses. Each year we award four UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative fellowships to students to support them in research and student engagement related to carbon neutrality. In 2016, we launched a student-designed Student Sustainability Ambassadors program focused on peer sustainability education that included not only climate change but also zero waste, food, and social justice. Through the on-campus Sustainability Resource Center we connect students to over 30 student organizations working on sustainability, hands-on internships and capstones, speakers and events, and more.

Climate Innovation

UC San Diego’s Strategic Plan ( focuses on four research avenues: understanding and protecting the planet; enriching human life and society; exploring the basis of human knowledge, learning, and creativity; and understanding cultures and addressing disparities in society. In 2015, UC San Diego co-led and hosted the “UC Summit on Carbon and Climate Neutrality” to bring state, national and international leaders together to focus on scalable solutions for achieving significant global greenhouse gas reductions. Speakers included California Gov. Jerry Brown; UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner; Nobel laureate Mario Molina; California greentech entrepreneurs; UC faculty and students; and others. The associated report “Bending the Curve: Ten Scalable Solutions for Carbon Neutrality and Climate Stability,” led by UC San Diego’s own Dr. Veerabhadram Ramanathan, has been shared at COP21, COP22, and international meetings around the world, including with Pope Francis ( UC San Diego faculty are actively leading engaged scholarship on climate change in the broader San Diego region as well. For example, Dr. Fonna Forman’s work with EarthLabs includes outreach to at-risk and disadvantaged communities, while 2015-2016 Faculty Climate Champion Dr. Skip Pomeroy shared campus-wide biodiesel and algae research with K-16 students, minority and under-represented chemists, and beyond. Finally, in 2015 Scripps Institution of Oceanography received funding to start a new Center on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation:

Creating Opportunity

UC San Diego has invested over $100M in energy retrofits, saving $12M a year. Our on-campus microgrid generates 85% of our electricity and meets up to 75% of our peak energy demand. This system includes a 2.5MW/5MWh battery storage system and a 2.8MW fuel cell, the largest on any university campus. The City of San Diego Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant provides renewable methane for the fuel cell via natural gas pipeline injection. The system also includes 7.6 million gallons in thermal energy storage that eliminates all on-peak electric chilling. Finally, it includes 2.3MWs of rooftop and parking canopy solar as well several demonstration “second life” transportation to building use installations. In addition to nearly $4 million from the California Energy Commission, we have received San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) efficiency rebates, California Self Generation Incentive Program funds, and private funding. We also are home to 57 Level chargers, 4 DC Fast Chargers, and 8 Vehicle-to-Grid chargers, with co-funding from EVgo’s Make Ready program for an additional 184 stub outs capable of supporting 368 Level II chargers, comparable to Google’s and Apple’s campuses. We have an EV purchase and lease discount program for employees now being taken UC-wide. Along with having 35 buildings LEED- certified (including 4 Platinum) or under review, 65% of our fleet is alternative-fuel, and we are constructing two light rail transit stations on campus. We do all of this in partnership with city, regional and our many corporate partners like BMW, Nissan, Daimler, Ford, BYD.