Irvine, Calif., May 12, 2014 — The U.S. Department of Energy has recognized UC Irvine for surpassing its Better Buildings Challenge goal of improving campus energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020.

UC Irvine is the first educational institution in the nation to meet or exceed this objective, and it did so seven years early – consuming 23 percent less energy in 2013 than in 2008, the base year for its commitment to the federal Better Buildings Challenge. Savings reflect energy use in 7 million square feet of building space in the campus core.

“In achieving this goal, we hope to demonstrate what’s possible and inspire others to step up to the challenge of reaching for a higher goal,” said Wendell Brase, UC Irvine’s vice chancellor of administrative and business services. “To further show our support for this initiative, we have pledged another 20 percent efficiency improvement by the program’s target date of 2020.”

Brase and Campus Energy Manager Matt Gudorf attended the BBC recognition ceremony Wednesday, May 7, at the White House.

“By committing to cut energy use by 20 percent, Better Buildings Challenge partners are demonstrating how businesses and organizations are reducing our nation’s energy bill, creating jobs and protecting the environment,” said David Danielson, who leads the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. “With commitments representing more than 3 billion square feet of floor space, these partners are leading the way to a cleaner environment.”

He visited UC Irvine in August 2012 to showcase the campus’s Smart Labs Initiative, a comprehensive program that safely reduces energy use in already energy-efficient laboratory buildings by as much as 60 percent.

The Smart Labs Initiative, which involves reengineering building control systems from bottom to top, is part of the campus’s focus on “deep energy efficiency”  measures that reduce energy use and associated carbon emissions by half or more. These also include interior and exterior lighting upgrades, heating ventilation and air conditioning retrofits, and information technology and data center efficiency projects.

The Better Buildings Challenge is a national leadership initiative launched by President Barack Obama in 2011 with the goal of making American commercial and industrial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020. The program supports Obama’s broader goal of doubling American energy productivity by 2030, while motivating corporate and public-sector partners across the country to save energy through commitments and investments. UC Irvine was invited to join the Better Buildings Challenge as an inaugural partner in November 2011.

Visit here for a detailed progress report on the Better Buildings Challenge and to learn more about the participants and their projects.

About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving high-tech hub in one of the nation’s safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, it’s ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.

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