CSU Moves to Greener Policy

Contact: Clara Potes-Fellow, cpotes-fellow@calstate.edu, 562-951-4800 or Colleen Bentley-Adler, caba@calstate.edu

(Sept. 21, 2005) -- The California State University Board of Trustees today approved a revised policy on energy conservation that calls for maintaining current practices of energy conservation and further reducing energy consumption by another 15 percent, reducing requirements from the electricity grid by increaseing self-generation to 50 MW, and increasing the purchase of renewable energy to 20 percent from the current 15 percent.

In the mid 1970s, the CSU first began to track how much energy was being consumed and at what cost. Using this factual framework, the CSU began to put in place conservation goals that reduced individual campus buildings per-square-foot use of energy as well as the overall energy demands of the system as a whole. Since that time the CSU has reduced energy use intensity by half.

Despite expanding campus facilities and new demands on energy, such as added air conditioning systems, computer and data networks, and advanced science laboratories, CSU continued to make reductions. Strong progress in meeting the last five-year goal, seeking a reduction in energy usage of 15 percent, has led to setting a new goal of reducing energy usage even further by 2010.

However, with increasing global demand on energy supplies and the volatility of energy markets in California, it is increasingly difficult to estimate costs and to ensure energy supplies. To leverage buying power and get the best rates possible, the CSU has worked with other educational systems and governmental offices. Yet, the university believes more can be done.

Among the goals of the proposed policy, the CSU seeks not only new conservation and more efficient buying methods, but also greater energy independence, largely through on-campus generation of energy. While each campus will have its own unique challenges and capacity, the overarching goal is to enhance reliability of the electrical grid. Cogeneration plants, solar power, and flexibility to reduce demand during transmission shortages are key technologies supporting this goal.

"This policy sends a clear message that sustainability and renewable energy are priorities in the CSU,” said Tyler Middlestadt, student president at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “This policy makes sense in the largest 4-year public university in the world for the same reasons that it makes sense everywhere else. The bottom line is that we much become more conscious of our energy and resource management, and we must increase our renewable energy investments to protect our universities from future energy challenges."

The key elements of the new policy are

  • Energy Conservation: The CSU will seek to reduce consumption by an additional 15 percent by the 2009/2010 fiscal year.
  • Energy Independence: The CSU will seek to double its self-generated energy supply over the next decade. It will pursue cost effective projects utilizing technologies such as solar, wind, and biomass (wood, plant, organic waste), as well as clean cogeneration plants. The availability of utility subsidies for renewable energy, as well as the volatility of energy prices are recognized challenges to achieving this goal.
  • Renewable Energy: The CSU will seek to meet or exceed the state goal of receiving 20 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2010. The CSU currently procures 15% of its electricity needs from Green-e certified renewable sources.

The CSU is expanding the sustainability component of the policy placing renewed focus on sustainable design, making buildings more energy efficient and more efficient in the use of natural resources. Again, the CSU aims to exceed the energy efficiency requirements set forth by the state for new and renovated buildings.

All 23 CSU campuses are involved in this effort and some striking efforts are already underway:

  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has organized a broad array of sustainability policies and projects, which are spelled out on its sustainability website.
  • East Bay has been repeatedly honored for its sustainable practices, most notably for its new solar power array which tops four buildings and is the largest such array at any college. The project, which generates some 1.45 million kilowatt hours a year, earned a record $3.4 million rebate from Pacific Gas & Electric.
  • Humboldt is home to the Schatz Energy Research Center which reaches beyond the university to provide model energy systems and projects as well as energy education. Humboldt is also home to the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology, run by the Associated Students to provide hands-on experiential learning opportunities and to examine the ethical and social consequences of technology.
  • Pomona is home to the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies. The mission of the Lyle Center is to advance the principles of environmentally sustainable living through education, research, demonstration and community outreach. Fundamental to this mission is the design of interdependent, self-renewing life support systems using ecological principles that integrate the needs of society with the integrity of nature.
  • Northridge has installed 692 KW of Solar Photovoltaic systems. The campus maintains a link to the real time energy performance of the system.
  • Sonoma has created an innovative sustainable building in Salazar Hall. The building eliminated the mechanical cooling system and captured rebates to install a 108 KW Photovoltaic system. The periodical, Heating Piping and Air Conditioning, published a study of the system in the July 2005 issue.
  • Chico has an active environmental studies and sustainability curriculum. As a result of Dr. Mark Stemen’s leadership, students have worked with faculty and staff to publish the CSU’s first Sustainability Assessment.

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 400,000 students and 42,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded about 2 million degrees, about 82,000 annually. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See www.calstate.edu.

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Last Updated: September 21, 2005

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