When California set out to build an entirely new University of California campus in Merced in 1999, opportunity knocked for energy experts. New buildings of every kind would rise from the vast, empty tract of San Joaquin Valley land — housing, classrooms, high-tech labs, and more. The chance to envision something bold, to plan energy-efficiency into every detail, was unparalleled.

Carl Blumstein appointed to UC President’s Global Climate Leadership Council

CIEE's Director was named to UC President Janet Napolitano's newly formed council to help lead UC toward it's 2025 carbon neutral goal. Learn More»

Results have wildly exceeded expectations. Young and growing, UC Merced is a living laboratory of sustainability, where every major building is LEED-certified. Its early efficiency goals met and exceeded, the campus is reaching higher: aiming for zero net energy by 2020. Simply put, UC Merced is proof of what's possible, with vision, technology, and smart planning.

CIEE has been a leader in the effort from day one. In a groundbreaking process, graduated "all-in" goals for deep energy were set, aiming first to reduce usage to 80% of the 2000 benchmark for university buildings and ramping down to 50% as the campus grew. Each building is outfitted to monitor actual performance over time.

Now with new technology and other organizations raising the bar for deep efficiency, the campus has the opportunity to extend its decade of success. New facilities can drop energy use of new facilities below 50% of 2000 university benchmark levels, while the campus produces an equal amount net to the grid, primarily from solar energy systems already installed or in planning.

CIEE Deputy Director Karl Brown, UC Merced, and the UC system also garnered the 2008 “Go Beyond” honors for these efforts from the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories and R&D Magazine.

CIEE experts have championed these ambitious goals, and managed research to make them possible. Their experience made them key players in crafting UC's far-reaching Policy on Sustainable Practices, in convening the annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference to showcase technologies and practices that yield results, and now in supporting UC system wide efforts to be operationally carbon neutral by 2025.