Chill Out

Keeping (the Planet) Cool

UC Santa Barbara recognized as an innovator in the fight against global warming. Bren School initiated research that led the way.

When UC Santa Barbaras was named a winner in the National Wildlife Federation’s “Chill Out” contest on April 18, the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management took a small bow.

The contest recognized just eight colleges and universities nationwide (from more than 100 entries) that are addressing global warming by implementing innovative programs to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. UCSB received the prestigious award for its efforts that had their roots in a 2005 Bren School master’s group project titled “Changing Campus Climate: Strategies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions at the University of California, Santa Barbara.” Students in the yearlong project, which is the Bren School equivalent of the master’s thesis, examined energy conservation as a way not only to lower GHG emissions, but also to save the university money.

One of the study’s primary recommendations was to procure third-party certification of the campus's CO2 emissions through the California Climate Action Registry. In response to this suggestion, UCSB Facilities certified its 2004 emissions and is in the process of obtaining certification of their 2005 emissions.

Campus-wide lighting retrofits, motion sensors, efficient chillers, and variable-frequency drives represent a few of the projects that were completed in 2006 and that, in combination, reduce CO2 emissions by almost 8100 tons per year. To complement that effort, engineers have proposed and secured grants for another suite of projects to reduce emissions by an additional 7400 tons per year by 2008.

"If every campus, business, and organization in the country followed the example set by the Chill Out winners, we would quickly lick the global warming problem," says Julian Keniry, Director of Campus and Community Leadership for the National Wildlife Federation. "The University of California, Santa Barbara, has proven that energy conservation can both save money and help combat global warming. The campus is modeling exactly what the science says should be done to reduce the environmental threat of global warming."

It is not surprising that the Bren School should be the source of such research; it is home to the only LEED Platinum-certified (the highest rating) laboratory building in the United States. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the U.S. Green Building Council’s environmental rating system for buildings and is accepted as the national benchmark for evaluating the environmental sustainability of design, construction, and operation.

UCSB Facilities is currently taking part in the LEED Portfolio Program to court 25 buildings through the LEED for Existing Buildings certification process in the next 5 years. That process will both green the operations of those buildings and educate occupants on such issues as green purchasing and the importance of energy conservation.

In addition, the UCSB Green Campus Program runs the "Energy Conservation Competition" in residence halls, pitting halls against one another in a friendly competition to lower energy use. This project reduces CO2 emissions by about 50 tons per year, while the financial savings go to prizes for winners and additional energy efficiency projects.

UCSB has found ways, through ingenuity and imagination, to provide increased space for research, education, and living, while limiting the growth of the school's environmental impact. For those impressive efforts, the National Wildlife Federation featured UC Santa Barbara in its Chill Out Webcast on April 18. Broadcast live from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., the show featured a taped address from Al Gore. The Webcast was part of a series of global-warming events scheduled at more than 150 college campuses throughout the nation, including UCSB. The University will also receive a grant from the National Wildlife Federation to continue its innovative global-warming solutions. The Webcast can be seen at

Other winning schools in the contest were California State University, Chico; Mount Wachusett Community College, Gardner, Massachusetts; Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey; Richard Stockton College, Somers Point, New Jersey; Oregon Institute of Technology, Klamath Falls, Oregon; Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio; the Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, New Jersey.



The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is home to an interdisciplinary graduate program focused on environmental problem solving through the integration of science, management, law, economics, and policy. Offering both a professional Master of Environmental Science & Management degree and a Ph.D. track, the School’s mission is to play a leading role in researching environmental issues, training scientists and environmental management professionals, and identifying and solving environmental problems around the world. It is ranked among the top four programs of its kind in the nation and is the only such program in the western United States. For more information, go to