The University of California, as reiterated in the Policy on Sustainable Practices dated March 2007, is committed to “minimizing the university’s impact on the environment and reducing … dependence on non-renewable energy.”
UC Irvine has undertaken many “green” initiatives in adhering to the UC system goals, as well as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Executive Order (#3-4-05), which sets 2020 as the next deadline by which time greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced to 1990 levels.
UCI’s recent agreement with UPC Solar, a renewable energy development company, was in direct response to the 2007 California Solar Initiative. CSI’s goal is to create 3,000 megawatts of solar-produced electricity by 2017. UCI’s 20-year agreement with UPC Solar permits the installation of 6,500 solar panels on 11 different campus buildings, which will produce 1.2 megawatts of direct current.
UPC Solar focuses on developing, financing, owning and operating commercial-scale solar energy projects throughout North America. Wendell C. Brase, vice chancellor of Administrative and Business Services at UCI, explains that UPC was selected based on their submitted proposal. Since they will be maintaining the solar installation, it “will require no capital outlay on the part of the campus.”
The installations will begin by March of this year, and should be completed by next fall. The system will generate enough power to supply the equivalent of approximately 212 Irvine homes. However, Brase said that “the primary benefit is that this solar installation will reduce the campus’ carbon footprint (carbon-dioxide emissions) 2,000 tons per year.”
This is a significant decrease in relation to our nation’s current situation with greenhouse-gas emissions. Carbon emissions from cement production alone have increased 37 percent since 1990, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s fourth U.S. Climate Action Report. The report notes that such emissions “do not have a direct global warming effect, but … [influence] the formation and destruction of the tropospheric and stratospheric ozones.”
Donald R. Blake, a professor of chemistry and earth system science, expressed his support for the renewed solar agreement “In order to illustrate … that we feel strongly about energy and the environment, we need to lead by example. If the solar/rooftop project yields positive results I would encourage UCI to expand the program,” Blake said.
Brase also mentioned that, in addition to state proposals, UCI students “have expressed strong support for renewable energy and other campus green initiatives.”
Teresa Bhardway, president of Anteaters for Recycling and Conservation, said that “we feel that [the agreement] is great.” Bhardway explained that it is something that a lot of other campuses are trying, and it is important particularly in Southern California where energy consumption is so high.
Southern California Edison and the Environmental Protection Agency continuously emphasize how crucial energy conservation is in regard to climate change and energy cost. Scientists are very concerned about current carbon-dioxide levels, especially after Oct. 1, 2007.
Reports from the National Center for Atmospheric Research indicate that 7.9 million metric tons of carbon were emitted during the Southern California fires last fall, approximately the same amount that motor vehicles throughout the state emit in a year.