Sustainability touches all aspects of the California State University. To learn more about the CSU’s progress toward integrating sustainability across all facets of our 23-campus system, visit the
Sustainability section of Calstate.edu.
Here are some of the ways the CSU demonstrates its commitment to sustainable practices in all we do:
Tracking of utility use is critical for both the campuses' and the Chancellor's Office's understanding of how energy and other resources are used. The EIS will help inform centralized procurement decisions for electricity and natural gas and will increase campus administrative effectiveness by automating utility data collection and simplifying reporting. Campuses are encouraged to install building-level metering to improve operational data on facility performance.
This QuickStart Guide to Climate Action Planning contributes to campus success by improving their
to communicate and implement climate actions. Additionally, increasing understanding of CSU’s systemwide approach to
climate action contrasts with other Universities and Agencies.
CSU’s mission (high quality, accessible, and affordable higher education) requires CSU to equitably decarbonize. This
rules out systemwide climate actions that would be fiscally imprudent such as early retirement of
capital assets or
widespread use of offsets. As a result CSU’s climate action is focused on cost-effective, equitable climate protection
for all Californians. Campuses are able to set more aggressive goals under their delegated authority.
California has a goal of carbon neutrality no later than 2045 for all emissions. Current CSU’s early action goal is
80% reduction from 1990 emissions levels by 2040.
These emissions are released from the fuels that a campus burns directly, such as natural gas in boilers, water
heaters, or cogeneration plants, and fossil fuels in fleet vehicles.
The minimum standard practice is to replace these assets at burnout with non-fossil fuel infrastructure.
This framework provides campuses with a technical roadmap for replacing fossil fuel infrastructure with clean,
electrified alternatives. The framework consists of a policy report, design guidelines, technology review,
conceptual recommendations, analysis of simultaneous heating and cooling potential, Title 24 modeling guidelines,
and an economic analysis tool. Simultaneous heating and cooling potential dashboards for each campus are
accessible with CSU authentication here.
This type of emissions result from purchases of electricity from a utility provider.
California passed Senate Bill 100, requiring the state to achieve carbon free power by 2045, the
power mix will be 60% renewable and 40% carbon free sources. This law applies to all load serving entities (LSEs),
including Community Choice Energy, bundled, and Direct Access customers. As a result, CSU’s Scope 2 emissions will
follow state law.
CCampuses may elect to decarbonize Scope 2 emissions faster but individual action is not required to decarbonize
scope 2 emissions.
There are other important needs that can be met by onsite renewables.
The consequences of climate change, such as the increasing risk of wildfire and public safety power
shutoffs(PSPS), have posed difficult operational challenges for campuses. To be resilient in such
microgrids, integrated with existing campus distributed energy resources, optimize energy usage and serve to keep
services online during a grid outage. Microgrids are the keystone of proactive energy management
and provide the opportunity for campuses to efficiently operate their emergency centers and critical facilities
Benefits of Microgrids
Supply chain emissions are all other indirect emissions in a company's value chain, resulting
goods and services, business travel, commuting, transportation and distribution, waste disposal and use of sold
products, investments and other leased assets.
The AB 262 Buy Clean California act requires Environmental
Product Declarations (EPD) when purchasing certain construction materials (steel, glass, mineral wool insulation)
for state building projects. This act states that the environmental effects of industrial products must be
documented, and the global warming potential must be lower than industry average. AB 262 reduces
climate change emissions by requiring businesses to purchase clean and efficient materials. Contract general
conditions are a rider to every Public Works Contract.
CA AB262 Buy Clean Air Act helps reduce climate change pollution
Climate action plans are essential tools for assessing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and developing a plan to achieve emission reduction targets. Eleven CSU campuses have published a campus-level climate action plan, with most setting a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by effectively reducing their net GHG emissions to zero.
Campus carbon-neutrality target dates range from 2020 to 2050. Four additional campuses are expected to complete their climate action plans in 2019. Unlike the CSU’s systemwide GHG emission reduction goals, these commitments include other indirect emissions generally categorized as Scope 3.
Campuses with carbon-neutrality goals have committed to reducing emissions from these Scope 3 indirect sources, such as emissions from employee and student commutes, in addition to reducing their Scope 1 and 2 emissions in accordance with systemwide policy.
This report is organized around four key metrics:
These factors are influenced by campus location and climate, type of utility service, hours of operation, occupancy loads, maintenance practice and energy efficiency efforts. Since many of these factors fall outside a campus's control, this data is best used to compare an individual campus's performance over time. Any comparisons between campuses should consider these factors.
The California State University partnered with the University of California and Southern California Edison on a
Clean Energy Optimization Pilot, a first-of-its-kind greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction program.
The partnership is designed to reduce GHG emissions and save money for both the CSU and UC systems. The four-year, $20 million pilot will provide financial incentives for the UC and CSU systems to identify and implement sustainable actions they can take to reduce their GHG emissions to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Since there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for every campus, the universities will be provided with a framework of options that will enable them to meet specific goals.
Two CSU campuses were selected to participate in this pilot,
CSU Dominguez Hills and Cal Poly Pomona. This approach will produce a variety of solutions that can be studied to understand the effectiveness for possible expansion of the program in the future.
The CSU has made significant progress toward meeting its
goals of improving energy efficiency. Energy efficiency remains the lowest-cost way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to facilitate these projects the CSU has partnered with the UC and the investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in the UC/CSU/Utility Energy Efficiency Partnership.Through the partnership, local electric and natural gas utilities provide incentive funding to complete campus energy-efficiency projects.
Since 2004, the CSU has leveraged more than $30 million in incentive funding through the partnership to complete over $128 million worth of energy efficiency projects. These projects have included LED lighting upgrades, building retro-commissioning, installation of high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and building envelope improvements. As a result of these energy conservation efforts and more efficient new buildings, the CSU has reduced systemwide energy use intensity by 11 percent since 2005-06.
The CSU has a comprehensive portfolio of energy procurement programs to source clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity and natural gas:
Current CSU policy requires all new construction and major renovations to be capable of achieving a Silver level of certification under the
U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The LEED rating system assesses buildings for sustainability criteria across many areas, including location and transportation, energy and water efficiency, materials, and indoor environmental quality.
While the current systemwide policy does not require projects to pursue LEED certification, several campuses do have such a requirement. Currently, seven CSU campuses require LEED certification for projects, five at the Silver level and two at the higher Gold level.
As the trend in higher education continues towards a more diverse menu of green building certifications, the CSU sees value in tracking tracks these campus decisions through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education ‘s(AASHE)
Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)
in the operations category credits regarding building design, construction, facilities operations, and campus energy consumption.
The CSU supports and is a major participant in
STARS. Most campuses have experienced the benefits of membership with the AASHE and reporting campus sustainability benchmarking data through STARS, the online reporting tool.
This reporting methodology provides the university a transparent, publicly accessible and self-reported framework crossing all sectors of higher education. Observed benefits include:
The CSU Sustainability Grants & Incentives Resource is intended to provide campuses with access to outside funding and incentive opportunities to support capital projects that encourage the CSU's commitment to sustainability. This resource should be accessed during the early and strategic planning stage of a capital project to help determine the project's financial feasibility. Campuses are encouraged to regularly check this database as it is updated on a continual basis.
The database is an inventory of active and ongoing programs organized around a variety of sustainability topics: