Story Sustainability

CSU Campuses Recognized for Sustainability Leadership

Alisia Ruble

The CSU is recognized by the AASHE and Sierra Club for efforts to create greener, more efficient campuses

​Chico State student Erik Spitzer conducts research in the university greenhouse. Photo courtesy of Jason Halley/Chico State

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), a national nonprofit that empowers higher education institutions worldwide to lead the sustainability movement, has included several California State University campuses in its 2018 Sustainable Campus Index.

The index highlights top-performing colleges and universities in 17 categories, as measured by a transparent, self-reporting framework for institutions to track their sustainability success.

California State University, Chico and California State University, Sacramento were listed among the nation’s overall top 10 performing master’s institutions and each holds a Gold rating from STARS indicating multidisciplinary efforts in key areas of sustainability. 

Chico State was also ranked a top performer in the coordination and planning category, strategies made possible through its Institute for Sustainable Development. Earlier this year, in fact, Chico State was recognized by the AASHE with a sustainability score of 73.41, the highest score ever achieved by a CSU campus.

Sacramento State also ranked among top performers for sustainable buildings for implementing designs that reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The university recently finished two building projects that meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s specifications for LEED Gold certification. 

San José State University and California State University, Channel Islands, were included among top performers for waste minimization and diversion. San José State, for example, reports that as of 2016, the campus diversion rate was 83 percent.

Among other top performers according to the index were California State University, Northridge, recognized for diversity and affordability, which holds a gold rating from AASHE, and San Francisco State University, recognized for efforts to reduce its carbon footprint through sustainable transportation, which holds a silver rating from AASHE.

Sierra Club Highlights the “Greenest” CSU Campuses

The Sierra Club recently released its 2018 list of “Cool Schools,” which ranks the nation’s two- and four-year undergraduate colleges based on sustainability performance in key areas including curriculum, campus engagement and research.

The CSU campuses that made this year’s list, in order of ranking, are: Chico, Humboldt, Sacramento, Northridge, San José, Channel Islands, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, San Diego, Monterey Bay, San Francisco, San Marcos, Long Beach, Fullerton, Pomona and Sonoma. 

CSU campuses are continuously recognized for efforts to incorporate sustainability principles into all areas of learning. These efforts not only positively affect the environment, they contribute to student success by inviting students to engage in the processes and prepares them for jobs in an increasingly green economy. 

In 2014, the CSU Board of Trustees adopted the first systemwide Sustainability Policy that outlined how the university was going to apply sustainable principles across all areas of university operations. Since its adoption, the CSU has already met its 2020 goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is training the next generation of eco-scientists by offering more than 4,500 sustainability-related courses.

Read the 2018 Sustainability Report to learn how campuses are using new technology and innovative practices to preserve the environment.