A Closer Look: Campus commitment to conservation goes back to 1980s
Efforts include recent policy on green building design, emission control, transportation options.
While UCLA has demonstrated commitment to numerous environmentally friendly measures over the past 20 years, work on the part of students has spurred developments in the implementation of new sustainability efforts on campus.
Since the late 1980s, the campus has made efforts to implement sustainable, environmentally conscious policies in areas ranging from traffic emissions to gas usage, said Tova Lelah, co-chair of the Campus Sustainability Committee.
"Ive been here for 20 years, and I can say for all those 20 years UCLA has been involved," said Lelah, the assistant director of campus and environmental planning.
UCLA has proven itself to have an administration with an open ear for student concerns regarding sustainability in recent years, said Jeffrey Dhungana, the co-chair of E3, UCLAs branch of the California Student Sustainability Coalition.
The coalition was established in 2002 by a group of University of California students hailing from several different campuses.
According to its Web site, the coalition worked closely with the UC Board of Regents and Office of the President to pass the recently implemented UC policy on green building design, clean energy standards, and sustainable transportation practices, which was formally issued by UCOP in June 2004.
The new policy "establishes a set of ambitious goals to advance sustainability practices at UC campuses, ranging from purchases of renewable energy to the proposed expansion of the policy into the areas of purchasing, waste reduction, sustainable operations and renovation projects," according to a UCOP statement.
Lelah said UCLA has tried to implement sustainable transportation measures since the early 1990s.
Lelah, who manages campus compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, said maintaining air emissions by traffic is of particular concern to UCLA.
She said the campus agreed in 1990 to limiting campus vehicle trips.
UCLA has implemented programs such as carpools and vanpools, and has made deals with transit providers such as the Big Blue Bus to try to cut down on vehicle trips to and from campus, and has made the campus shuttle bus fleet run entirely off natural gas.
Further, 30 percent of the fleet of campus vehicles runs off alternative fuel, and this number will increase as old vehicles are replaced, Lelah said.
Bicycles have also begun to play a role in travel to and from campus, and UCLA is attempting to make the campus more bike-friendly, Lelah said.
Efforts to cater to bikers include providing indoor parking for bikes, showers for bikers and a workshop to fix bikes located at the back of the Wooden Center, she said.
Attempts by UCLA to control its emissions began in earnest in the early 1990s.
The first part of that decade saw the construction of a facility which uses natural and landfill gas burned in two turbines to generate electricity for the campus, Lelah said
The new electricity generation facility replaced a steam plant that ran off power from the Department of Water and Power and generated more than double the current emissions, Lelah said.
It makes use of the heat from the generation itself, using it for steam to warm chilled water.
Landfill gas used in the facility is piped from Mountain Gate Landfill through a direct underground pipeline to campus, Lelah said.
"This is a local source that if we were not using it and there were no other purchaser ... it would just be flared into the environment," Lelah said.
Instead, UCLA puts it toward a productive use that is far less polluting, she said.
The campus also puts emphasis on recycling.
"We have had recycling programs on this campus for, Id say, about 20 years," Lelah said.
Half of all trash on campus is recycled and is picked up and taken off site by an outside source, she said.
"I think our community here is pretty educated as far as recycling," Lelah said.
Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2007