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UCI honored for sustainable facilities management programs

The university’s green practices receive the inaugural APPA award

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: July 20, 2012 09:45 AM

UC Irvine, long recognized as a progressive campus in the areas of sustainable facilities management and energy conservation, has been recognized by APPA with the organization’s first-ever Sustainability Award for Public Institutions.

"We're very gratified that our efforts at green construction and responsible energy use have been recognized with APPA's first accolade of this kind," said Matt Gudorf, UCI’s campus energy manager who accepted the award at APPA's annual conference in Denver.

The award is based on evaluations of the schools submitting applications to the organization for consideration, with scores given in seven criteria: maintenance and operations, planning and construction, energy and utilities, educational curriculum and research, leadership and administration, sustainability indicators, and sustainability innovations. UCI received high marks in all areas, according to the university.

"APPA is pleased to present this award to the University of California, Irvine," said Executive Vice President E. Lander Medlin. "The university and its facilities management organization together are demonstrating exemplary leadership and are setting the pace for sustainable practices in higher education."

UCI has a long history of sustainable practices, pre-dating the green movement. The school’s energy management program was established in the early 1980s and enhanced in 1992, when the university set out to beat California’s Title 24 requirements by 30 percent for all new construction projects going forward. (Title 24 sets the state’s energy efficiency guidelines for residential and non-residential construction.)

"We pride ourselves on being leaders in this area," added Wendell Brase, vice chancellor of administrative & business services. "UC Irvine faculty and students in a variety of disciplines are researching alternative energies and the direct and indirect effects of climate change, and our facilities management team is equally dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and power costs."

Another sustainable program on campus, the UCI Smart Labs program, was instituted in 2008, when facilities engineers discovered that operations in the campus’ newly constructed labs could be made more efficient without sacrificing occupant safety. The program is also the cornerstone of the school’s drive to meet President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge. The university set itself the goal of doubling the President’s challenge by reducing power consumption on the main campus by 40 percent.

"Until recently, most attempts to improve laboratory energy efficiency had plateaued at about 25 percent better than code," Brase said. "In order to make a major impact on our carbon footprint, UCI set a goal of 50 percent, which - if successful - would raise the bar for all laboratories. We also made a binding requirement that these energy savings could not be achieved at the expense of safety. And I'm proud to say we've succeeded."

APPA is a 98-year-old nonprofit organization and association of property and facilities management professionals for higher education institutions. At one time designated as the Association of Physical Plant Administrators of Universities and Colleges, today the organization is known simply as APPA.

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