Our Pledge

UCI Student Center & Event Services is proud to contribute to building a sustainable future. Join us in reducing polystyrene (Styrofoam®) use in our everyday lives and reducing polystyrene in landfills.

Styrofoam is a non-biodegradable material. Without a reliable recycling program, those foam cups and containers will stay in landfills indefinitely.

As a matter of health, when polystyrene is heated, toxic chemicals can enter the human body causing detrimental effects. Styrofoam is made with benzene, a known carcinogen, and styrene, a suspected carcinogen. Consider better options for your health and our world.

UC Sustainable Practices Policy UCI Sustainability


have taken the pledge

Our Facility

In October 2007, the UC Irvine Student Center expansion project received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold award from the U.S. Green Building Council. This honor recognizes the project’s many sustainable design features in areas such as waste diversion, recycled content and locally sourced building materials and energy and water efficiency.

LEED Certification

In 2008, UC Irvine signed an agreement with SunEdison to finance, build, and operate a solar energy system on campus. The Student Center rooftops are now home to an 85 KW solar system. Since the system on top of the Student Center became operational, it has eliminated 237,760 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions.

Solar Panels

In June 2010, five roof top Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) units were replaced on the Cross-Cultural Center with a new, energy-efficient model. In addition, the roof membrane was replaced with an ENERGY START product. Together, these two projects save approximately 1,000 kWh of electricity and 10 therms of natural gas annually.

In June 2010, the Student Center turned off hot water to restroom areas, eliminating the need to heat water for 83 sinks. Annually, this initiative is expected to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions by 123 metric tons of CO2e (equivalent to removing 21 passenger vehicles from the road) and utility costs by $18,700.

Ferns native to California along with Pink Muhly grass, French lavender, Sun Drops, and Snowberries were added to the Cross-Cultural Center planter and Peltason Street landscapes. A drip irrigation system was installed and all broken or leaking sprinklers were replaced to conserve water. These low-water solutions are colorful, at times fragrant, and reduce maintenance costs all while adding a visual appeal to The Center.


Our Operations

Biodegradable containers are used for most to-go items and biodegradable plates are used in most retail dining locations within the Student Center. A comprehensive local and organic food program has been introduced in the two Aramark managed locations within the Student Center: the East Food Court and the Zot-n-Go convenience store.

UCI Hospitality & Dining

To help in the campus-wide initiative for zero waste by 2020, indoor triple-stream recycling stations have been installed throughout the Conference Center. The three bins are color coded black for landfill, green for compost, and blue for recyclables. Each bin is equipped with signage to help with sorting. When items are properly composted or recycled, they can become value resources like energy, soil or turned into new products like aluminum. Recycling existing materials takes 95% less energy than it does to create new materials.

  • Green – Organic waste like banana peels or paper waste soiled with food or liquid should be sorted for compost.
  • Blue – All clean and dry items such as plastic bottles, glass bottles or paper should be recycled.
  • Black – Materials soiled with food or liquids such as ketchup packets, potato chip bags, or coffee cups soiled with liquid should be sorted for landfills. Landfill should always be the last option for your waste.

When wondering what goes where, your food can be composted along with a soiled napkin. The plastic container your food was in goes into the recycling bin if it’s clean and dry. Your plastic utensils would go into the landfill. With this three-bin system, UCI will meet its campus-wide diversion rate goal of 95%.

Newly installed Bigbelly trash cans with convenient foot pedals for handless operation are a visible commitment to sustainability at the Student Center. These smart trash cans use cloud-driven technologies for a real-time management system that improves operational performance and organizational efficiency. Solar-powered sensors measure a can’s capacity and signals a compactor that presses the trash down. This allows each Bigbelly to collect eight times more waste than standard bins. The sensors communicate real-time status to collection crews and sends an email notification to staff that indicates how full they are. Recycling diversion rates can be more accurately measured and have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel costs by reducing the number of scheduled collections.

Zero Waste
Big Belly Trash Cans

Student Center & Event Services is honored by the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference with the 11th annual Best Practice Award for lighting design. Starting October 2014, the Student Center Conference Center underwent a facility-wide lighting upgrade that increased lighting throughout the building while decreasing energy loads and greenhouse gases.

The Best Practice Awards highlight successful and cost-effective projects on UC, CSU and CCC campuses that implement green building technologies, sustainable design strategies, and energy-efficient operations.

Lighting Fixtures

As drought patterns in California remain unpredictable, The Student Center has now replaced 90% of our faucets and flushers to reduce the amount of water being used. In alignment with UCI’s strategic goal to become more sustainable, these faucets and flushers are expected to reduce water consumption by 70%. In addition to wasting less water, these flushers and faucets are also automatic, thereby increasing sanitation for Student Center guests.





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Automatic Faucets and Flushers

Starting November 2010, Student Center & Event Services is replacing standard cleaners that contain hazardous chemicals with electrolyzed water as part of a pilot project. The production of electrolyzed water involves a process to convert the elements of salt (sodium and chloride) into the ingredients in alkaline and acidic electrolyzed water through the process of electrolysis. The electrolyzed water process will produce an acidic solution containing hypochlorous acid and an alkaline solution containing sodium hydroxide. As a sanitizing/disinfecting solution, hypochlorous acid is 10 times more effective than bleach in reducing the levels of bacteria and viruses commonly found on surfaces. As a cleaning agent, sodium hydroxide is a principle ingredient used in many soaps and cleaners and is highly effective in removing dirt, oils and greases. This technology goes a long way toward creating a green environment.

In October 2010, Student Center & Event Services discontinued the use of traditional pesticides within the Student Center and Cross Cultural Center buildings. EcoSmart aerosols (an all-natural product made with essential oils from plants and trees, water and carbon dioxide), natural diatomaceous earth (an all-natural product made from tiny fossilized water plants), and physical barricade techniques replaced the use of traditional pest control products.

In fiscal year 2009 – 10, Student Center & Event Services reduced the use of non-green cleaning chemicals by 29%, while decreasing the annual expense of these products by 18%.