As UCLA has grown over the last 30 years, its commuter traffic has decreased, thanks to the university’s focus on alternative transportation. The campus’s successful efforts were applauded Wednesday evening by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), which awarded UCLA Transportation the state’s top environmental honor.

UCLA Transportation, one of 12 honorees who received a 2014 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), was lauded for its track record of accomplishments in planning, promoting and providing sustainable transportation programs to the campus community. UCLA was the only university to receive the state environmental award.

Nearly half of all UCLA commuters use alternative transportation, compared to roughly a quarter of Los Angeles County commuters. Largely because of its sustainable transportation programs, the campus has seen a 23 percent decrease in the commuters who drive alone to campus over the last 26 years, saving 103,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from polluting the atmosphere.

“Thirty years ago, UCLA realized that we could rise above L.A.’s infamous car culture, addressing traffic congestion, air quality concerns and quality-of-life issues on campus as well as in surrounding communities and beyond,” said Renée Fortier, the executive director of UCLA Events and Transportation. “In doing so, we have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and the resultant impact on climate change.”

UCLA received the award Jan. 21 at a ceremony at CalEPA headquarters in Sacramento, California.

“Each of the 2014 GEELA recipients demonstrated initiative and creativity in advancing sustainable practices,” said state Secretary for Environmental Protection Matthew Rodriquez. “The winners, representing diverse enterprises from Northern, Central and Southern California, prove that policies benefitting the environment go hand in hand with economic and organizational success.”