How UCI is preserving our local natural habitats and raising the bar in sustainability

For more than 50 years, UCI has played a vital role in the welfare and conservation of Orange County’s natural habitat. Our history of environmental stewardship dates back to our decision in the early 1960s to use recycled water for landscape irrigation. This commitment set a precedent of eco-friendly practices and led to the development and growth of our groundbreaking sustainability research and remarkable green accomplishments.

As stewards of the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve since 1971, we know firsthand the beauty and tranquility of the area, and we are excited to share the experience with the community while preserving the marsh’s ecosystem. In planning the development of our new medical center located in UCI's North Campus, we consulted with UCI biologists to establish a 150-foot biological buffer between the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve and all structures. It’s important to us that the community, students and patients can connect with nature while habitat protection and water management are ensured. As the campus and surrounding areas continue to grow, safeguarding the San Joaquin Marsh Reserve will remain a top priority. We fully recognize the importance of the marsh, the wildlife it supports and its value to the community, academia and research -- and we are committed to its long-term protection.

Bird flying over marsh

As a leader in environmental research and education, we take sustainability efforts seriously. From project planning to construction, our new medical center will prioritize the protection of the surrounding environment while creating more green space for all to enjoy. Facilities will meet or exceed LEED Silver equivalency and the California Green Building Standards Code. We will also incorporate measures that save energy, reduce construction waste, promote recycling and conserve water. Additionally, sustainability features at the medical center will include drought-resistant plantings, recycled water for irrigation and cooling towers, high-performance glazing and building insulation, high-efficiency lighting and air conditioning, and high-efficiency pumps and heat recovery chillers.

Each of our building projects goes through an extensive environmental review, which provides a report for public comment and suggestion. In our eyes, every Orange County resident is a partner in this process. We have taken numerous steps to ensure our plans for North Campus will not pose a negative impact on the environment. This includes working closely with Native American leaders on how to best respect sacred tribal lands and, as we mentioned, prioritizing the protection of the beloved San Joaquin Marsh Reserve.

At UCI, we care deeply about the community, and being accountable stewards of the land has always been a part of our mission. We will remain committed to thoughtful development and protecting our environment through preservation, research and education. Together, we can create a better, more sustainable future.