California State University, Long Beach
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Climate Neutrality By 2030…That’s The Goal

Published: April 15, 2015

Getting the CSULB campus’ carbon footprint down to zero by the year 2030 is a lofty but attainable goal.

“It can be done,” said Holli Fajack, sustainability coordinator in Physical Planning and Facilities Management (PPFM), “but it’s going to take a lot of work and we need buy-in from students, faculty and staff.”

As 2011 signatories to the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), the university has committed to creating a plan to reach climate neutrality. More than 600 colleges and universities have signed on to date, and each institution selects its own climate neutrality date. CSULB picked 2030.

“The university has a great opportunity to substantially reduce its carbon emissions by focusing on developing and promoting programs and incentives that encourage our faculty, students and staff to use alternative modes of transportation to travel to and from campus,” said David Salazar, associate vice president for PPFM. “Transportation emissions make up the largest share of our emissions and this is where we can make the greatest impact.”

To hit that 2030 goal, it’s going to require an all-hands-on-deck effort—students, faculty and staff—as well as the backing of the CSULB administration, which it apparently has. President Jane Close Conoley attended a campus Climate Action Plan (CAP) event in the fall and more recently took time out from her schedule to speak at a meeting of the Sustainability Task Force, a coalition of faculty, staff and students which not only looks at climate change issues, but other sustainability matters as well.

“I want to assure you this is a top priority,” Conoley told the group. “And I am very impressed with the plans I have seen thus far. Each of us is a steward of the part of the planet we inhabit and these efforts are a great model for our students. Not only can we teach students, but our students and faculty can be doing research that will inform our next steps.”

“There is a lot of potential to build momentum around emissions reduction efforts by using the campus as a living lab,” said Paul Wingco, energy and sustainability manager in PPFM, noting that an initiative through the chancellor’s office looks to connect academic offerings to the campus physical infrastructure projects so that students can gain hands on experience solving real campus challenges. “We’re starting to see a lot more classroom and student involvement so that’s exciting. I think it’s important for students to see how this applies to them personally and how they can be part of the solution.”

“We need to do a better job of highlighting the progress we’ve made and talking about our goals for the future,” said Fajack. “We are doing so many great things here that not enough people know about.”

One of those things is CSULB’s adoption of the CAP, which was unveiled last fall as part of the campus’ sustainability efforts. It introduces the campus community to the issues associated with climate change; provides a roadmap for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions generated by campus operations and activities in order to achieve climate neutrality by 2030; and highlights the campus’ commitment to improving the climate literacy of students through curriculum, programs and community engagement.

“There are so many opportunities on campus for students to be more involved in the efforts for CSULB to become climate neutral by 2030,” said Melissa Romero, Associated Students Inc. sustainability assistant and a senior environmental science and policy major. “Our campus created a Climate Action Plan that outlines exactly how we will be achieving this goal. We encourage students to become involved in any programs or organizations on campus related to sustainability, such as Sustain U which is a meeting where students, faculty and staff come together and bring ideas to life.”

CSULB Climate action plan logo

Faculty must play a key role in achieving the goal of climate neutrality by 2030, according to Wade Martin, chair of economics who helped write the Climate Action Plan.

“Faculty need to consider their own carbon footprint, such as how we commute to and from work and whether we leave electronics on when not in the office,” he said. “And we need to integrate sustainability content into our classes so that students become more aware of their responsibilities as well. Changes in technology and the purchased electricity portfolio will only get us so far toward accomplishing this ambitious goal.”

Individuals taking responsibility for their impact and addressing local emissions on-site as much as possible is one of the keys, agreed Fajack.

“There’s only so much we can do by improving our campus environment because a lot of it has to do with behavior change,” she said. “Even if we do all we can through energy efficiency, renewables and improving our transportation infrastructure, the biggest change will come from the choices we make and the commitment of our campus community to making climate neutrality a priority.”

The annual Green Generation Mixer and Sustainability Project Showcase will take place on Thursday, April 16, at 5 p.m., at the Japanese Garden. To RSVP for the mixer, go to www.GreenGen2015.Eventbrite.com

If you are interested in attending the mixer, submitting a students and faculty project for the showcase, or participating in the Sustainability Task force, contact Fajack by e-mail or call 562/985-1939.

Join The Task Force
The campus Sustainability Task Force (STF) is recruiting members for its working groups. Any member of the campus community who is interested in helping CSULB reduce its climate footprint, become more resource efficient, and increase awareness about sustainability issues is encouraged to apply. To learn about the nine STF working groups that are seeking members or to sign up to participate, click here. Have more questions? Contact sustainability@csulb.edu.