Making Headway in Sustainability

February 25, 2021
Graph showing progress in green spend by campuses

The University of California continues to make headway on ambitious procurement initiatives – from purchasing more sustainable products to holding licensees accountable through a Code of Conduct. As part of this effort, 2020 is the second year in a row that UC reported on Green Spend goals. Green Spend is defined as: spend on products meeting the UC-preferred level of environmental sustainability criteria as laid out in the UC Sustainable Procurement Guidelines.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic negatively impacted 2020’s Green Spend goals. For example, spend in the cleaning supplies category was compromised as many campuses had to seek out new suppliers due to product shortages. Systemwide, UC continues to meet its green goals in the categories of cleaning supplies, electronics and indoor office furniture, though some campuses have not yet reached individual goals. UC-wide, all locations are still purchasing significant amounts of products that do not meet minimum sustainability policy requirements in these categories.

This year, UC Procurement enhanced its Green Spend reporting to make it more flexible and relevant to campuses. Reports now include pre-calculated spend that campuses can include in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) reporting for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS is a self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. All campuses are required to maintain a certified STARS report and must achieve a Silver STARS rating or better by 2023, per the UC Sustainable Practices Policy.

In the future, UC aims to report on water appliances and fixtures, compostable food service ware and expand product category data for campuses. Please note, campus-level data on office supplies is limited this year due to data insufficiencies.

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