UC Berkeley named ‘Coolest Campus’ in systemwide carbon reduction competition

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On Monday, UC Berkeley was announced the “Coolest Campus” in the Cool Campus Challenge, a four-week UC-wide event that began April 1 and engaged thousands of participants in taking carbon dioxide-saving measures.  

Across the system, individual participants completed and logged carbon-reducing actions, which contributed to individual, team and campuswide scores.  The challenge was open to students, faculty, staff and UC Office of the President, or UCOP, administration. Chancellor Carol Christ participated and was featured on the Cool Campus Challenge Facebook page logging her points.

The challenge incentivized participants to reflect on their carbon impact and to implement small changes to improve their footprints, according to ASUC Senator Anna Whitney. These everyday actions could be as easy as turning off the lights, taking public transportation or washing laundry on cold.

“It’s all about changing people’s behaviors and making people more conscious about the decisions they make,” Whitney said.

According to a Cool Campus Challenge presentation sent by campus Director of Sustainability and Cool Campus Challenge founder Kira Stoll, UC Berkeley swooped in with the highest score of nearly 9.5 million points after a close race with UCLA. Throughout the competition, UC Berkeley and UCLA, which ended in second place, were at times within 20 participants of each other, according to UCOP spokesperson Sarah McBride.

The UC Berkeley team Sustainable Squad took the prize for the highest number of points earned among UC Berkeley teams.

Engaging more than 4,000 participants, or 7.5 percent of the campus, UC Berkeley reportedly saved 2,026 metric tons of carbon dioxide from participants’ actions, which is equivalent to taking 500 cars off the road for an entire year, according to the presentation.  

The challenge wasn’t just a cross-campus competition, but also a “call to action,” according to Stoll. McBride said in an email that the challenge was designed to construct a culture of sustainability across the UC system and to raise awareness about the UC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

“The Cool Campus Challenge is one of many initiatives to help people understand and take personal action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change,” McBride said in an email.

As the winner of the competition, UC Berkeley will receive a trophy and $2,000 to devote to a campus sustainability effort. Stoll is working with the student organizers of the UC Berkeley Cool Campus Challenge efforts, Dante Gonzales and Sage Lenier, to decide how funds will be implemented toward a long-term impact goal, according to Stoll.  

“Tackling climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. The Cool Campus Challenge is about engaging individuals and our community in action that leads to meaningful change,” Stoll said in an email.  

Contact Sasha Langholz at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LangholzSasha‏.