Campus: Monterey Bay -- June 14, 2007

A commitment to the environment CSUMB joins fight against global warming

Renewable energy. Electric vehicles. Artificial turf. Organic food and compostable plates, bowls and flatware. Environmentally friendly building projects.

CSUMB is turning green faster than a chemically fertilized golf course in summer.

President Dianne Harrison has signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, which obligates schools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and teach sustainability.

“Global warming is a defining challenge of our time,” said Dr. Harrison. “Human activities are responsible for the problem, and working together humans have the capacity to solve the problem. That means taking serious action to stop adding global warming pollution to the atmosphere.

“CSUMB is committed to leading the way.”

The commitment makes higher education the first sector of society to pledge to become climate neutral, and requires schools to educate students about the issue and fund research for ways to reverse climate change. The combination of climate neutrality, research, and education is what makes the initiative unique. Each school has two years to create a plan and set a timeline.

And it's good business – energy efficiency saves money.

Mike Lerch, manager of energy and utilities at CSUMB, is the campus energy detective. He checks heating systems to make sure they operate only when buildings are occupied, finds water valves that leak, looks for lights that burn continuously and relocates thermostats to better control temperatures.

“I’d estimate we will save about $100,000 a year, based on the energy-saving projects we’ve completed and those under way,” said Lerch.

CSUMB students have indicated they want to live on an environmentally conscious campus. Several years ago, an environmental senator was added to the roster of student government officers elected each year.

And students led the way in creating the award-winning Energy Innovations Fund, a 2006 initiative to implement energy-saving projects throughout campus using donations from campus stakeholders.~So far, one project has been completed – lighting the basketball court. The fund idea was entered in a best practices competition held annually in the University of California and CSU systems’ Energy Efficiency Partnership Program. The project shared first-place honors with UC-Berkeley in the category of student sustainability programs.

The university is already doing a number of things toward sustainability:

  • The library currently being built incorporates many green concepts in the design, and will be eligible for a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver rating.
  • A central heating plant is under construction that will consolidate 22 boilers into two. This is inherently more efficient and will also save on maintenance.
  • The current electrical mix uses 17% renewable energy. This comes from a mixture of hydroelectric, solar and wind power
  • A shuttle is provided for students and employees who live in East Campus housing, and bus service through MST is provided to all points in the area.

These efforts build on CSUMB’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, including:

  • Use of electric and hybrid vehicles in our operations of the campus
  • Refitting existing buildings for better energy use
  • Saving water through a combination of use of artificial turf on the ball fields, waterless urinals and an irrigation system capable of adjusting sprinklers based upon the actual evapo-transpiration rates of our landscape
  • Use of compostable plates, bowls and flatware, in order to reduce waste in the landfill
  • Recycling of paper, cans, bottles, motor oil, light bulbs, batteries and other items. Our recycling of construction/demolition waste is at 90% and resulted in over 17,000 tons of waste not entering the landfill last year.
  • Use of cleaning chemicals and paper in restrooms certified by
  • Drought-tolerant landscaping

Learn more about the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment at

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