UC Irvine, which this month was recognized for sustainability by the Urban Land Institute and The Princeton Review, will celebrate Earth Day with its second volunteer tree planting on campus.

Last fall, the national Arbor Day Foundation acknowledged UCI’s excellence in arboreal care with a “Tree Campus USA” designation and grant. To mark the occasion, 50 new trees were planted in Aldrich Park. Because of strong student turnout for that effort, UCI won another tree-planting grant from the ADF and Toyota that will support this year’s Earth Day event – scheduled for noon Friday, April 22, in Aldrich Park.

“Students are naturally drawn to tree-planting events in the park since it allows us to leave something permanent on campus and bond with others planting the trees with us,” said Kevin Schlunegger, social ecology major and sustainability commissioner with Associated Students of UCI. “It’s a great hands-on event that allows us to reflect on the beauties of nature and connect with our campus while building community; and when we’re older, we can come back to see how the tree has grown.”

Earlier this month, UCI earned a Best of the Best Award for organizational leadership from the Orange County/Inland Empire District Council of the Urban Land Institute. The award honors exemplars in the responsible use of land and creation of thriving, sustainable communities.

UCI also is commended in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition, released Wednesday, April 20. The listing was compiled on the basis of a 50-question survey of 703 schools. Only those scoring in the 80th percentile and above are included. In addition to its eight LEED Gold buildings, UCI is cited for its energy efficiency.

“The school is taking a … proactive approach to leveraging all that Southern California sunshine in support of sustainability,” the guide notes. “UC Irvine has installed a 1.2-megawatt DC solar power system, which is expected to produce more than 24 million kilowatt hours (equivalent to offsetting 25.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide) over 20 years.”

The free publication, which does not rank schools hierarchically, can be downloaded at www.princetonreview.com/green-guide.aspx or www.centerforgreenschools.org/greenguide.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

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