Campus housing and student volunteers plant various environmentally friendly trees and ground cover in UCI’s Palo Verde residential community. Steve Zylius / UCI

From its renewable energy, water conservation and eco-friendly transportation programs to its sustainability-related academic and student activities, no U.S. university is “greener” than UCI.

This is reflected annually in Sierra magazine’s ranking of “Cool Schools”: UCI is the only campus to place in the top 10 for eight consecutive years.

In 2017-18, UCI became the first university to convert its buses to an all-electric fleet. The 20-bus, student-funded and -operated Anteater Express shuttle service joins a hydrogen electric bus and will provide more than 2 million pollution-free rides annually.

And UCI continues to set the pace in implementing cutting-edge energy efficiency technology. The campus employs sensors to make 430,000 measurements of electricity use, indoor air quality and building system performance every five seconds. This results in unparalleled precision control and maximum efficiency, which has reduced energy use by more than 50 percent.

To boost these savings even more, UCI Sustainability staff have launched a Green Labs certification program, which provides resources and guidance to enhance energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, green chemistry and sustainable purchasing in campus laboratories.

Last year, aiming to greatly expand its use of recycled water, UCI partnered with the Irvine Ranch Water District to convert the school’s central cooling plant to an environmentally friendly system that will conserve more than 50 million gallons of drinkable water annually.

In addition, over 200 faculty members are engaged in climate change and sustainability studies. Subjects range from quantifying the impact of urban flooding to revealing the dire health risks of rising temperatures and prolonged heat waves in equatorial regions. And putting what they’ve learned into action, UCI researchers are helping to craft flood preparation strategies in Newport Beach and Tijuana, Mexico.