Earth-Friendly Living

Housing, Dining & Auxiliary Enterprises’ goals are to protect, preserve and regenerate our environment and resources by implementing “Earth Friendly” practices and supporting UCSB on its way to becoming a sustainable community. We provide a safe and healthy living and learning community for student residents at UCSB. We are the largest department on campus and equivalent to a small city in terms of our resource demands (see about us). For that reason, it has become imperative that we strive to be good stewards of the environment and continue to seek new ways to live and act sustainably. Below are examples of how we live out one of our We Are About core values "Being Environmentally Sensitive" on a daily basis:      (Please also visit Earth Friendly Dining to learn more about Residential Dining Services' sustainability initiatives.)

Energy & Buildings

  • Upgrading boilers to ultra efficiency (94%), low emissions, and variable flow (to use the appropriate amount of  heat when needed)
  • Installing light sensors in Residence Halls to automatically turn off unneeded lights
  • Utilizing the most efficient LED lighting to provide more light and use less energy
  • Using solar energy systems (solar electric, hot water and pool heat) on buildings to reduce fossil fuel usage and utilize renewable energy
  • Coordinating energy contests to reward students with prizes for saving money, resources and preventing pollution
  • Using photovoltaic (solar electric) panels for clean and renewable power
  • Upgrading electrical infrastructure to be as efficient and cost effective as possible through the 12kv Electrical Supply Backbone project
  • Incorporating LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) in new buildings and major remodels

Alternative Transportation

  • Maintaining 20 electric vehicles, 13 natural gas cars and trucks, and 2 hybrid vehicles
  • Installed 2 new CNG (compressed natural gas) fill stations – CNG produces 30% less greenhouse gases, and 70% less smog producing emissions
  • Purchasing bicycles for use by employees

Water Conservation

  • Expanding use of recycled water for irrigation (90% of landscape on east side of campus, and 100% for all new apartment complexes)
  • Planting drought tolerant plants
  • Installing waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, and low flow faucets and showers in all areas (residence halls, dining commons, and apartments)
  • Utilizing all new energy and water efficient front loading laundry machines
  • Utilizing low water-use dish machines and sprayers in the dining commons (58% reduction at Ortega)
  • Eliminated water wasting garbage disposals
  • Coordinating water savings contests between different buildings, and awarding prizes to winning halls
  • Installed shower timers in residence halls to save water and remind residents to take 5 minute showers
  • Turned off outdoor fountains to save water
  • Installed water saving devices on boiler systems saving thousands of gallons of fresh water per week
  • Replaced water cooled systems with air cooled systems whenever possible
  • Installing toilets in new buildings that will use recycled water instead of fresh water
  • Water use in our residence halls and dining commons is very low per person (28 gallons/day) as compared to other residential users (Goleta is 53 gallons/day, City of Santa Barbara is 63 gallons/day, and California average is 90 gallons/day)


  • Recycling and reusing materials resulting in a >70% reduction of material going to local landfills
  • Recycling aluminum, plastic, glass, paper, newspaper, cardboard, magazines, tin, computers, electronic waste and batteries
  • Recycling concrete, wood, drywall, furniture, carpet, all metals and appliances during renovations
  • Providing copies of three different newspapers at each residence hall to share - free of charge - reducing newspaper waste by 25,000 pounds per year
  • Operating a “swap shop” for apartment residents to share items that would have been discarded
  • Donating furniture and kitchen equipment to local non-profit organizations
  • Collecting reusable student clothing, books, small appliances, shoes, bikes, furniture at the end of the year and donating it to local non-profits
  • Donating large furniture (bed, dressers, desks) to companies to reuse items, or rebuild into new furniture for use in halls (saving thousands of tons of furniture from going to the landfill)
  • Installed solar powered trash and recycle mini-compactors, which results in less collection trips saving time and labor, and reducing fuel usage and emissions by up to 80%

Waste Management

  • Compacting food waste at all dining commons to be turned into compost and used again on campus
  • Collecting recyclables and trash at halls with electric carts in place of polluting trash trucks (quieter and safer too!)
  • Providing containers to all residents for recycling in halls
  • Testing composting of paper towels to avoid landfill
  • Educating residents about waste awareness during “Sustainability Week” each fall quarter
  • Donating leftover food products to local food banks
  • Serving made-to-order food portions which reduces food waste
  • Installing filtered water bottle fill stations in all of the residence halls in order to eliminate the need for students to buy single-use water bottles

Responsible Purchasing

  • Purchasing high content recycled paper for office and computer lab use
  • Reducing packaging by purchasing bulk containers
  • Constantly testing new products with high recycled, post consumer content
  • Using environmentally friendly certified green cleaning chemicals
  • Purchasing from environmentally preferred and local companies 

Paperless Office Processes

  • Accepting digital signatures for housing contracts, avoiding the printing of thousands of paper contracts
  • Implemented online timecards, handbooks, brochures, newsletters, job applications, forms, and staff and student manuals
  • Defaulting network printing to double-sided prints
  • Advertising in Dining Commons on digital signage only (no table tents)

Student Involvement & Education

  • Offering a "Green Living" themed Living and Learning Community in San Miguel Hall where residents are committed to living lightly and reducing their impact on the earth and oceans
  • Providing comprehensive “Housing Green Guide” as a resource for residents
  • Facilitating environmental awareness programs including Earth Day and Sustainability Week
  • Hiring Recycling Coordinators who are responsible for the daily pick-up of recyclable materials
  • Providing internships and student group projects to work on composting, alternative transportation, water conservation and green building projects
  • Coordinating with environmentally oriented student groups on energy, water and recycling competitions between the halls and apartments 

Community Connections

  • Developing relationships with local farmers
  • Partnering with students and interns working on class projects
  • Hosting community forums to share information
  • Teaching, networking and sharing sustainability insights
  • Partnering with Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) and Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market
  • Providing information and resources for green living in the local community (see Housing Green Guide)



  • Southern California Edison Energy Management Award (1986)
  • Green Consortium Award (2004)
  • Santa Barbara Sustainability Award for Manzanita Village (2005)
  • UC Best Practice Award for San Clemente Water Quality Detention System (2007)
  • Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Award for Excellence in Architecture for Restoration, Renovation, or Adaptive Reuse – De La Guerra Commons (2007)
  • American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Design Award for Lagoon Park Restoration at Manzanita Village (2008)
  • International Recycling Network (IRN) Reuse and Recycling Certificate (2008)
  • American Planning Association (Central Coast Section) Award of Excellence for Innovation in Green Community Planning – Campus Housing Study (2009)
  • California Higher Education Sustainability Conference Award for Water Efficiency & Management for the San Clemente Villages bioswale (2010)
  • UCSB ranked #10 on Sierra Magazine's annual ranking of America's greenest colleges (2013)
  • UCSB earned gold in the national Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System program for colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada (2014)
  • 1st place of all UC schools - Campus Conservation National Energy Saving Competition (2014)
  • UCSB‬ ranked #24 on Sierra Magazine's annual ranking of America's greenest colleges (2014)
  • Green Award from the Regional Chapter of the US Green Building Council for Santa Cruz Residence Hall (2014)
  • UCSB ranked #3 in Princeton Review’s list of the Top 50 Green Colleges, and #1 among public universities (2015)
  • UCSB‬ ranked #18 on Sierra Magazine's ninth annual ranking of America's greenest colleges (2015)
  • UCSB earned gold in the national Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System program for colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada (2016)


Mark Rousseau, Environmental & Energy Programs Manager 805-893-3092
Robbie Wright, Assistant Director, Residential Dining 805-893-2812

Earth Friendly Dining
UCSB Sustainability
UCSB Bren School of Environmental Management
UC Sustainability
Campus Ecology Information
Santa Barbara Farmers Market
Community Alliance with Family Farmers