Story Sustainability

CSU Supports California, Nation through Energy Savings and Commitment to Sustainability

Christianne Salvador


CSU​ Dominguez Hills' Welch Hall is one of the winners at the 2017 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference for its energy-saving design.​


The state of California is a national leader on environmental protection efforts and the California State University (CSU) system, an institution dedicated to the state's future and welfare, strives to uphold California's energy and climate policies.

Commitment to sustainability is one of the CSU's top priorities, with nine goals set out in the system's Sustainability Policy. Along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving water conservation, one of the goals in the policy is energy saving. By using less energy throughout its campuses, the CSU's students and surrounding communities benefit from the financial savings and increased environmental quality.

Currently, the CSU is practicing different ways to save energy at each of the 23 campuses. At the CSU Chancellor's Office, Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Dominguez Hills, energy storage systems were recently installed to lower energy demand during peak usage times. The hybrid electric building technology works similarly to a plug-in hybrid car - the building stores energy when it's inexpensive, and when the demand is high, it instantly switches to discharging electricity and frees up grid capacity for other energy users. In turn, the CSU will reduce its overall electric utility costs by $3.3 million during the first phase of the implementation process and store enough energy to power 2,000 homes in nearby areas. The project will be implemented in multiple phases and will be the largest battery storage project at an educational institution in the nation.

"The hybrid electric building technology will boost grid capacity and cut costs," said Aaron Klemm, chief of energy and sustainability at the CSU Chancellor's Office. "This system will protect California's environment and support the academic mission of the CSU."

The CSU's energy efficiency efforts have led to a partnership with other institutions that have similar goals. In 2004, the CSU and University of California (UC) systems established a partnership with California's Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) to reduce energy demand on campuses and promote best practices among the state's higher education systems. The partnership, called the UC-CSU-IOU Energy Efficiency Partnership, includes all 33 CSU and UC campuses and the IOUs that serve them, including Southern California Gas Company and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The partnership program focuses on cost-effective energy savings measures, from building design to operations, as well as monitoring-based commissioning. The partnership also provides training sessions and best practices education on energy efficiency for facility managers. Since the partnership's inception, the CSU has avoided more than $108 million in energy costs. The CSU has also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 600 metric tons in the past 13 years. By implementing energy savings projects, the CSU receives incentives from the IOUs, receiving $2.7 million in this year alone.

Energy efficiency efforts throughout the CSU has been getting recognition. At the 2017 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, Cal State Dominguez Hills was awarded for a design/retrofit and commissioning project on its Welch Hall and Student Health Center that will save the campus $19,600 annually. Sacramento State also received an award for a lighting project at its Mendocino Hall that will retrofit 333 lighting fixtures across the building, leading to an expected avoided cost on the campus of $22,000 annually.

The CSU will continue its efforts to implement new technologies throughout its campuses and solve sustainability challenges. The CSU's values on climate change makes the institution a significant component in the state's environmental protection efforts. To maintain and advance its role in supporting California and the nation's leadership in environmental stewardship, the CSU recently joined the "We Are Still In" climate declaration to stand against climate change and promote clean energy. The system and campuses are also signatories in the Climate Leadership Network.

For more information on CSU's sustainability efforts, visit​.