Seeing UC Davis drop to No. 55 in Sierra magazine’s eighth annual ranking of the “coolest schools” in the country is, at first look, a bit disconcerting.
In fact, The Enterprise splashed UCD’s No. 1 position on the front page in 2012, and last year favorably reported that UCD was No. 4 in the country. UCD’s point differential between last year and this was 122.5. In 2013, the campus scored 782.74 points out of 1,000; this year it scored only 660.24.
So what gives now? Has UCD lost its motivation to be one of the “greenest” universities in the country?
Not at all.
As is often the case with changing rankings lists, other schools have improved significantly, rather than UCD becoming complacent in its efforts.
To be fair, though, UCD did lose significant points in a couple of key categories, specifically “energy.” Out of 249 possible points, UCD’s total for 2013 was 161.47; in 2014, UCD received only 102.85 points, nearly a 60-point drop. UCD is not even reaching the halfway mark for points in the energy category.
This category is fairly huge: Of the 67 criteria on the scoring key that make up the total 1,000 possible points, a full quarter of them fall under energy. Exactly which criteria those are isn’t clear from the key or the 253-page report that is part of UCD’s submission to the Sierra Club for consideration, but some were obvious: Energy consumption in buildings is worth 40 points; renewable energy sources is worth 45; and energy use by type (percentage of electricity and heating from alternative or renewable sources) is worth 25.
In UCD’s submission to Sierra under the heading “energy,” the university stated, in part:
“Securing clean and renewable energy is important to UC Davis, and the campus is working on two major initiatives that are not captured in the reporting year data for this credit. The campus is working on a large-scale (estimated production of 33 million kWh/year) solar photovoltaic project, slated for construction during 2014 and operation beginning in spring 2015.
“UC Davis has also recently finished construction of an on-campus anaerobic biodigester. This facility, using technology developed by UC Davis faculty and licensed to Clean World Partners, generates clean, renewable electricity from campus organic wastes.
“The facility will be supplied with approximately 20 tons per day of feed stocks from agricultural waste, animal manure and bedding, and food waste from campus dining commons. The biogas produced from the biodigester will generate 5.6 million kWh per year for the campus. The facility was completed in late 2013 and began producing electricity by spring 2014.”
A few other significant point losses for UCD from 2013 to 2014 were under the headings “investments” (from 40 to 20 points), “waste” (from 103.17 to 89.67 points) and “planning” (from 71 points to 45).
Where UCD had improvements from last year were in the categories of “co-curricular,” “food,” “instruction/research” and “purchasing.”
To read the complete report, visit http://sierraclub.org/sierra/coolschools-2014
— Reach Tanya Perez at 530-747-8056 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya