UCSF Sustainability Stories

Robert Hood, January 29, 2021

UC Green New Deal Gaining Momentum at UCSF

The University of California Green New Deal Coalition is gaining momentum throughout the university system, including at UC San Francisco.

The coalition of undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, labor, postdocs, clinicians, and faculty recently presented a decarbonization petition and plans to sustainability officers, environmental planners, and facilities staff for the 10 UC campuses.

“The Green New Deal is advocating for the University of California to take more aggressive actions to help prevent the worst effects of the climate crisis and to promote environmental justice,” said UCSF Sustainability Director Gail Lee.

John Rosendo, facilities energy analyst, says the biggest contributor to emissions across the system is the burning of natural gas. “The majority of UCSF’s emissions comes from natural gas. We estimate approximately 58 percent of our emissions comes from our cogeneration plant.”

Lee said new buildings, such as the Tidelands student housing, are helping reduce campus emissions. The Tidelands receives low-carbon electricity through Clean Power SF, which is now 100 percent carbon free. The Tidelands was built with this goal in mind and has resulted in energy use that is 42 percent below typical residential buildings.

“By transitioning to all-electric buildings and away from the use of natural gas, we are one step closer to reaching our carbon neutrality goal,” Lee said. “Not only that, but the reduction in air pollution from not burning fossil fuels is consistent with our health mission.”

The UC Green New Deal Coalition is advocating for a UC energy plan that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels. The group has submitted a petition to the Office of the President of the University of California, the UC Regents, and the Chancellors of the 10 campuses signed by 3,500 UC members, endorsed by UC unions representing 50,000 employees, and by the Associated Students and Grad Students.

The UC Green New Deal Coalition is asking the system to make detailed, shovel-ready electrification plans on each campus. The group is also asking the system to use “fossil free” instead of “carbon neutral” in all goal-setting, progress reports, publicity materials, and outreach programs.