Public Affairs

California Higher Education Recognizes the Best in Green

July 1, 2010
By Erik Fallis

Now in its ninth year, the 2010 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference gathered students, faculty, staff and administrators from the state's three public higher education systems to learn from each other about the best sustainable practices.  From June 20 to 23, more than 900 participants from throughout Above, the logo for the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference 2010.  Below, Humboldt State University graduate Sarah Schneider, a presenter at the conference.the state discussed topics from using locally grown food to lighting university buildings, managing water resources to reducing the energy used in heating and air conditioning.

The role of students, and how they can uniquely contribute to campus sustainability, was on full display during the conference.  Presenter Sarah Schneider (profiled here in her own words), a recent graduate of Humboldt State University and prominent leader in HSU's Green Campus Program said she learned "that community involvement is crucial for sustainability."  Schneider embraced working with a diverse set of on- and off-campus entities that each had a different part to play in making HSU a greener campus.

HSU's Green Campus Program was acknowledged among the best practices in 2009.  The 2010 best practice awards given to the CSU system span nine projects, at seven campuses.  The projects are listed below, by campus:

Humboldt State University: HSU returns to the stage, this time with a best practice in sustainable foodservice.  While Dining Services has worked with local food suppliers for decades, about four years ago HSU connected with the Humboldt County chapter of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and began increasing its local food options.  The result has been that during the North Coast’s growing season between 50 to 100 percent of the produce at HSU is local and organic

California State University, Northridge: CSUN's water system has a mind of its own.  A Central Computerized Irrigation Control System takes into account elements such as rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind speed, transpiration and evaporation rates.  The computer then determines exactly how much water the landscaping on campus needs.  CSUN is also conserving by using a waterless urinal replacement system.  The programs combined to earn a best practice in water efficiency.

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona: Cal Poly Pomona has received numerous accolades of late related to efforts driven in large part by the Green Campus Program.  These accolades now include a best practice award for student energy efficiency.  Cal Poly Pomona students certainly earned the honor, after an exhaustive study that let the university turn the lights down in some areas and remove other light fixtures without losing necessary coverage.

California State University, Sacramento: Sacramento State's investment in the energy sipping American River Courtyard residence hall is already paying off.  In January, the ARC received $74,331 from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District for exceeding the state’s energy efficiency standards by 34.8 percent.  Windows, walls, mechanical equipment, lighting systems and building controls all work together to make this building efficient.  How efficient?  If the air conditioning is on in a room and a window is opened, the AC automatically shuts off.  Not surprisingly, ARC received a best practice award for overall sustainable design.

California State University, San Bernardino: For four years in a row, CSUSB projects have been recognized at the conference, with an impressive four awards in 2007.  This year the campus received an honorable mention in overall sustainable design for its College of Education building.  The sustained and campus-wide energy efficiency effort at CSUSB has gained national attention, including a prestigious award by the Association of Energy Engineers.

San José State University: SJSU built the King Library to LEED Silver standards in 2003.  With better lighting and the use of a digital monitoring system that identifies energy efficiencies, the campus is now pushing the building even further into the frontiers of efficiency.  By addressing mechanical and lighting issues, energy consumption at the library has dropped by nearly a third.  This earned SJSU a place as a best practice in lighting design and retrofit.

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo: Last, but certainly not least, Cal Poly SLO showed its leadership in sustainable innovation once again, receiving three best practice awards, the most of any CSU campus this year.  The Green Campus Program as well as a heating and air-conditioning retrofit for the Student Recreation Center earned awards, while the Student Recreation Center also received an honorable mention for lighting retrofit.

This story is featured in the summer 2010 edition of the CSU Green Sheet.