You are here

Turning the Tide

Published January 5, 2022

Thank you for checking out Turning the Tide, our biannual digital magazine highlighting sustainability efforts and achievements here at The Beach! This publication is produced by the Office of Sustainability in collaboration with partners across the university.

Have an idea for a sustainability story we should include in a future issue? Let us know!

 

[Accessible plain text versions below]


Turning the Tide - Fall/Winter 2021-22 (Issue #3)

Turning the Tide CSULB's Sustainability Digital Magazine

 

Turning the Tide - Spring/Summer 2021 (Issue #2)

spring/summer issue cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turning the Tide - Fall/Winter 2020-21 (Issue #1)

Cover of Turning the Tide fall/winter edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fall/Winter 2021-22 (Issue #3)

Contents

Welcome

The President’s Commission on Sustainability and the Office of Planning and Sustainability are delighted to present the third issue of Turning the Tide, our biannual digital magazine highlighting sustainability efforts and achievements at CSU Long Beach. In this issue, we share new green programs, initiatives, and events on campus and we look at how our university contributes to solving local environmental issues.

Clean Air Vehicle Drivers Enjoy "VIP" Parking Spaces on Campus

Fossil fuel powered vehicles produce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to the climate crisis. We know, we know, that’s OLD NEWS. It is. Unfortunately, it’s an old news problem that does not have a quick and easy solution. Many people are married to their cars and while more sustainable commute methods exist, most folks are less than enthusiastic about sacrificing the efficiency and convenience that personal vehicle ownership offers. While zero emission vehicles (ZEV) are not a flawless solution, they are the most feasible alternative to our gas-guzzling status quo.  

In recognition of the potential of ZEVs to reduce commute related emissions, Governor Gavin Newson signed an executive order to limit vehicle sales to only ZEVs starting in 2035. With this goal on the horizon, several CSUs have also stepped up to expedite the adoption of clean air vehicles. CSU Sacramento, San Marcos, Bakersfield, and now CSULB have rolled out an incentive to encourage campus community members to choose a new or used ZEV as their next personal vehicle. The program is coined “Clean Air Vehicle Priority Parking” and offers ZEV drivers “VIP” –like parking spaces. 

CSULB now has over 40 Clean Air Vehicle priority parking spaces on campus spread across lots G1, E2, E3 and E5. In addition to having access to these spaces, EV drivers enjoy reduced fuel costs compared to those that drive fossil fuel powered vehicles, with an average savings of $900 per year. Additionally, many EV drivers are eligible for a DMV issued Clean Air Decal which allows them to use high occupancy vehicle lanes when driving alone. Some EV adopters will also qualify for rebates and / or up to $7,500 in federal tax credits.  

On average, 21% of a student’s carbon footprint, or 1.26 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mtCO2e), is related to transportation. If you are a driver of a fossil fuel-powered vehicle who would rather go electric than use other sustainable travel modes like bus, bike, or walk, you can eliminate your commute related emissions by switching to a clean air vehicle.   

By switching to a ZEV, you can help fight climate change one ride at a time AND enjoy primo parking spaces on campus.

SAVE BIG ON AN EV PURCHASE! Check out the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project’s online Savings Calculator to see which rebates you are eligible for. 

Learning from Sustainability Leaders 

New Sustainability Master's Program Connects Students to Real World Projects & Experienced Professionals 

Fall 2021 marked the launch of a new graduate degree program at CSULB, the Master of Science in Sustainability Management and Policy (MSSMP). Offered through a joint effort of the university’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, College of Liberal Arts,

College of Business, and College of Professional and International Education, the MSSMP program prepares students to apply concepts of sustainability within organizations through advanced training in a variety of management and policy skills. 

 

On Saturday, November 20th, the very first cohort of MSSMP students were invited to a special event at Rancho Los Cerritos, a historic site within the City of Long Beach, where they were able to meet in person with several of the expert professionals who comprise the degree program’s notable Advisory Board.

 

Advisory Board members Mark Christoffels and Clay Sandidge c0-hosted the event after collaborating together on the Rancho's new water sustainability project and its related educational presentation, “Looking Back to Advance Forward.” The grant-funded initiative was created to capture up to 140,000 cubic feet of storm water—an increase of 40% to 95% annually—through innovative filtering and storage technology, amounting to nearly net-zero usage on site. Visitors, including thousands of elementary school students each year, are able to learn about the importance of water conservation, from the history of how the Rancho originally operated in early 1800s to the modern technology being implemented today. 

As Chair of the Board for the nonprofit Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation and Planning Commissioner for the City of Long Beach, Christoffels brought his years of experience in public works, infrastructure, and land use to the project. It was engineered and constructed with the help of local consulting firm P2S, where Sandidge works as a Senior Project Manager and Energy Market Sector Lead.  

“We wanted to do a networking event where students could meet Advisory Board members and vice versa, and it just so happened that we could create a sustainability project around that,” said Sandidge. “So it really wrapped everything in a nice bow for us.” 

“It’s an ideal project to highlight for MSSMP students,” agreed Christoffels. “Sustainability captures a multitude of topics, including the scarcity of water resources in California. We’re sharing how we implemented it, from getting grant funding through design and construction.” 

With about 10 MSSMP students in attendance, plus an equal number of faculty and Advisory Board members, there were opportunities to enjoy refreshments and learn about the many careers that are directly relevant to the master’s degree program. MSSMP Advisory Board members include professionals with sustainability-related positions in local city government administrations as well as the Port of Long Beach and leading companies like Cisco, SoCal Edison, and Netflix. 

"I chose the MSSMP program at CSULB because of their Advisory Board,” said MSSMP student Serena Palmer. “They're willing to help educate us and bring in their experiences in the sustainability field, while also allowing students to connect one-on-one with them. This program is an amazing opportunity, and I'm so glad that I have the honor of being in the inaugural class." 

“It’s no secret, we’re in a climate emergency,” added Sandidge. “What these MSSMP students are learning today is going to help them implement better projects tomorrow. Mark and I are at the tail end of our careers, so we’re relying on these students to create change.” 

CSULB is A Founding Member of the new Green Film School Alliance 

According to a 2021 report from the Sustainable Production Alliance, major blockbuster movies generate about 33 metric tons of greenhouse gases per shooting day—that’s the weight of three school buses EACH DAY!   

Filmmaking can be a very wasteful practice. But it doesn’t have to be according to the Green Film School Alliance (GFSA), a coalition of film schools dedicated to teaching sustainable practices in film production.  The GFSA is made up of a dozen film schools (and growing) including AFI, USC, UCLA, NYU, Chapman, and Cal State Long Beach who are endeavoring to make wasteful practices a thing of the past.   

Associate Professor Kent Hayward of CSULB’s Film and Electronic Arts Department is a founding member of the GFSA, and a partner in the development of the Production Environmental Actions Checklist Youth (PEACHy), a tool that helps student film productions find sustainable practices that work with their films.   

"PEACHy, the green checklist that we put together, is a great tool for student filmmakers,” says Hayward. “Not only can my students help save the planet by incorporating these green tools in their filmmaking, but they will gain experience in a new field that is taking hold in the industry. It’s exciting to think that my CSULB filmmakers are getting in on the ground floor of a growing new field, and that they will be leaders in the sustainable filmmaking practices of the future! "  

The GFSA was inspired by other industry sustainability champions like the Producers’ Guild’s PGA Green and the Sustainable Production Alliance, which have been working hard to incorporate green practices in the film industry for a long time. Their shared goal is to leverage film as the catalyst for change that it is, recognizing that the content and behaviors of characters on the screen are incredibly influential to viewers, and the practices that producers use to create that content are super influential too. In other words, modeling good behavior on screen and behind the scenes can affect real change.   

Indeed, the future of production is green. Netflix, for example, has a plan to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022. Lots of studios, production companies, and even production cities are also exploring zero emissions futures.  That’s why the Green Film School Alliance is dedicated to teaching sustainable practices in student filmmaking as a way of infusing “future-thinking into media-making and ensuring that the practice of sustainable production becomes the norm.  “Collaborating with the GFSA founding schools to get these aligned principles and practices into their programs is an exciting and significant next step,” says Heidi Kindberg, Director of Sustainability for HBO and HBOMax. “As these and future film students graduate, they can finally make ‘sustainable production’ a misnomer – it’ll just be ‘production’.” 

Download PEACHy for free at www.greenproductionguide.com/gfsa 

Contact the Green Film School Alliance at gfsa@greenproductionguide.com 

Students Help Analyze the Impact of the Huntington Beach Oil Spill 

You may be shocked to learn that thousands of oil spills occur in US waters each year1. Recently, one of these spills happened in our own backyard, Huntington Beach. Crude oil leaking from pipes beneath the ocean is never a good thing and when the news broke in October, CSULB faculty and students leapt into action to help assess the consequences.  

The spill, which was nearly 5 miles offshore in Huntington Beach, was sure to impact Southern California’s coastal habitats, home to diverse marine life and sensitive ecological systems. To assess the damage, an army of environmental scientists and stewards including folks from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), UC Riverside, and graduate students from CSULB’s Shark Lab and Wetlands Ecology Lab banded together.  

Oil spills cause two main problems for ocean life. The first is fouling, also called oiling. Fouling is when oil physically harms a plant or animal. For example, oil that has coated a bird’s wings will prevent it from flying, making it less able to catch food and escape predators. An oiled animal’s chance of survival depends on the severity of the oiling.1 Oil consists of many different toxic compounds and thus the second issue caused by spills is oil toxicity. Exposure to these toxins can cause severe health problems for marine life such as heart damage, stunted growth, immune system effects, and even death.1 The CSULB team focused on measuring the oil toxicity impact.  

According to The Shark Lab’s Dr. Chris Lowe, NOAA contacted CSULB’s research labs because of our expertise in marine biology and environmental science, as well as the specialized equipment available to the researchers. Students involved with the effort took part in field sampling along various Southern California shorelines2 and several media outlets relied on expert faculty from CSULB’s highly rated Marine Biology Program for real time reports from the field. Two professors, Dr. Gwen Goodmanlowe and Dr. Christine Whitcraft, were featured on multiple news sites in the days following the spill.  

Under the direction of Whitcraft and Lowe, and with support from Southern California lifeguards, hundreds of pounds of fish were collected by students. Once captured, students measured their levels of exposure to spill-related chemicals namely polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). 

The crew pulled in hundreds of fish, selecting 100 for testing and safely releasing the rest. Biologists from UC Riverside assisted scientists from NOAA with fish sampling on the beaches with the end goal being to better understand the oil spill’s impact on the natural resources. The team also collected sediment and plants, all of which will be evaluated for toxicity and short and long-term impacts of the oil on coastal ecosystems. 

Whitcraft led much of these efforts and points out that although oil infrastructure is necessary to support our current way of life, the potential for spills such as this is ever-present. According to Whitcraft, it is critical to determine the type of spill early on, as light oil can have short-term effects and be more toxic, while crude oil typically sinks, coating plants and animals and causing longer term damage.  

As damaging and unfortunate as this incident was, the one silver lining of the spill is that CSULB students had the opportunity to put what they have learned in the classroom into action in a meaningful way.  

“Hopefully, events like this will make people rethink our dependency on fossil fuels and start to call for a shift away from them,” said Sustainability Coordinator Holli Fajack. “In the meantime, it’s great to know that our students and faculty are prepared to respond when these incidents happen and that CSULB is seen as a critical partner in these efforts.” 

Reduce your dependence on fossil fuels! When vehicle shopping, opt for a Zero Emission Vehicle. Plastics are made from fossil fuels and also threaten our oceans. Double negative!

Join the #BreakFreefromPlastic Movement! 

Have an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle? Make sure you are driving as efficiently as possible. Check out this webpage for tips!

Did you know…. 

  • That the CSU system has a plastics policy? Check it out at calstate.edu

  • That CSULB is able to rely less on fossil fuel for energy than other campuses thanks to our large on-site solar systems!

Sources: 1 - NOAA, 2 - CSULB Article 

CSULB's Climate Action Team Advocates for Carbon Fees 

The U.S. is responsible for 25% of global CO2 emissions (World in Data) and experts say we need to reduce emissions by 12.9% annually (pwc) to limit warming to 1.5 °C. These stark facts inspired CSULB engineering student Jayden Maree to launch the Climate Action Team to rally other concerned students and advocate for change. This new student organization has a straightforward mission: to promote legislation that would impose carbon fees on fossil fuel companies. “We cannot wait to advocate for solutions, we need to actively back something today,” says Maree.  “A well-designed carbon pricing bill could not only set us up for net-zero emissions by 2050, but help us to transition to clean energy, create more jobs, and save lives” he continues. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) shares this agenda and describes their proposed climate solution as the “single most powerful tool available.”   

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA) is the most recent policy being promoted by CCL and now, CSULB’s Climate Action Team. Over 80% of gross national emissions would be covered by the act and the carbon fee would start at $15 per metric ton with a plan to it increase by $10 - $15 annually. To combat the expected increases in energy rates, the EICDA outlines that the money generated from companies paying the carbon fees would be distributed to eligible US citizens to help them pay their energy bills. What is the forecasted impact of the carbon fee policy? An energy system model from Resources for the Future indicated that in eight years, EICDA could cut carbon emissions 52% below 2005 levels. If enacted promptly, this program could put us on a trajectory that meets the IPCC’s 1.5°C goal.  

Though, with most new policy proposals, there are supporting and opposing arguments. A recent study noted that many countries with high carbon pricing have experienced relatively modest emissions reductions (Green). Green’s article sites three studies that found that Sweden, which adopted carbon taxes in 1991 and currently has the highest carbon tax in the world, has seen limited or no effect on emissions.   

Despite the policy’s critics, carbon taxes are extremely popular as evidenced by the fact that Australia and the U.S. are the only developed economies that do not have nationwide carbon pricing in place (CCL). The Climate Action Team and CCL are busy advocating for the government to jump on the bandwagon and while their current focus is advocating for carbon pricing, Jayden shared that he is “open to anything that any of our members can contribute.”  In addition to connecting directly with congressional representative to lobby for the EICDA, members also participate in local activities such as tree plantings and beach cleanups where they can connect with members of their community who share their passion for improving our environment.  

Joining the Climate Action Team may sound daunting to those without experience in advocacy or activism. But Jayden and the Climate Action Team don’t want potential members to feel intimidated. Even if you don't have your representatives’ digits on speed dial, don’t know their email addresses, and don’t have a ton of spare time, you can still be an effective changemaker. The club will show you how to contact your representatives and even provide templates to email or scripts to read during a call. You’ll come to learn that raising your voice is actually quite simple and doesn’t require a lot of your time.  

If you would like to join the Climate Action Team’s efforts to advocate for a healthier planet, you can connect with them on Beach Sync

Returning to Zero Waste Practices 

Fossil fuel powered vehicles produce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to the climate crisis. We know, we know, that’s OLD NEWS. It is. Unfortunately, it’s an old news problem that does not have a quick and easy solution. Many people are married to their cars and while more sustainable commute methods exist, most folks are less than enthusiastic about sacrificing the efficiency and convenience that personal vehicle ownership offers. While zero emission vehicles (ZEV) are not a flawless solution, they are the most feasible alternative to our gas-guzzling status quo. 

The Tongva peoples are the original inhabitants and caretakers of the Los Angeles basin and Southern Channel Islands, and like all Native Americans, their traditional way of life produced no waste. Everything had its purpose, and everything could be returned to the earth. Unfortunately, over the last 75 years, the growing popularity of single-use products and hyper consumerism have led to overflowing landfills and littered oceans. It has become increasingly clear that our “throw away” culture is unsustainable, and governments, universities, and individuals are taking action to return our communities to practices that are in harmony with our environment.  

Understanding our Waste Problem 

Every week the garbage truck rolls by and picks up heaps of discarded goods. Clothing, expired food, broken items, plastic bottles and packaging and more are transported out of sight where they quickly become out of mind. Most of these items end up in landfills or incinerators, with only a small amount being recycled. In fact, many folks are surprised to learn that only 9% of all plastics actually get recycled. The rest end up in landfills, as litter in our streets and oceans, or burned up in incinerators, where they release toxins that are harmful to people, animals and ecosystems.  

Waste is not only an environmental and public health problem but also a social justice issue. Landfills cause air pollution as dust and gases such as methane and carbon dioxide escape into the air. Incinerators release dioxin, lead, mercury, carbon dioxide, and hazardous ash, among other toxins. The air pollution caused by landfills and incinerators pollute our air, often causing health problems in communities predominantly inhabited by Black folks, Indigenous peoples, and People of Color (BIPOC) as these facilities are disproportionately located in their neighborhoods.  

A Zero Waste Past & Future  

To best address this trashy status quo, we must strive to shift towards the practices of the caretakers who preceded us in this space. We must reimagine our current systems, pressure product manufacturers to do better, and inspire our communities to call for change. The Zero Waste International Alliance provides a helpful definition to guide allies of their mission: Zero Waste is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health. 

CSULB has a 2030 Zero Waste goal and has a significant framework to achieve this goal. The CSU wide Single Use Plastic Policy and CSULB’s Purchasing Policy have already assisted the university in reducing the presence of plastic on campus. The pandemic’s work from home mandate forced departments across the university to adopt more digital forms and workflow solutions, resulting in a significant reduction in paper use. Our dual stream bins and “back of house” composting program are also helping us make strides towards our Zero Waste goal as these programs help mitigate the amount of material sent to landfill and incinerators. Despite these efforts, we recognize that a Zero Waste future is no small undertaking, and we certainly still have a long way to go.  

Fortunately, the state of California is an ally in the pursuit of Zero Waste practices and composting food waste will soon become easier thanks to the State’s progressive agenda. This coming January, SB 1383 will go into effect, requiring all jurisdictions to provide organic waste collection services to all residents and businesses.  

What can you do to help reduce waste? Zero Waste is a mindset that starts before the point of consumption. The best thing you can do is become more mindful of the things you buy and consume, avoid unnecessary items and packaging as much as you can and opt for durable, reusable items whenever possible. When sorting your waste, always read signage and labels on bins to help you sort properly and avoid contaminating recycling by placing only clean, empty items in the bins. Get more Zero Waste Tips on our website.  

Want to learn more ways you can help in the Zero Waste Effort?  

Got E-Waste?  

Got dead pens, markers, highlighters?  

Sustainability Gurus at the Garden 

Insightful speakers shed light on the challenges and solutions surrounding zero waste, plastics, and fashion 

Several times last semester, students, staff, faculty and community members strolled through the Japanese Garden and then relaxed into folding chairs to hear from the featured guests invited by Garden Director Mary Sramek and the CSULB Office of Sustainability for the Sustainability Speaker Series. Listeners’ eyes grew wide as the speakers illuminated the complex issues related to our pursuit of “greener pastures” and shared solutions for creating hope and change. With our reduced campus population in the fall, we know that fewer people were able to attend these in-person events, so we have compiled this handy summary from each speakers’ talk so you won’t miss out on the key takeaways! 

JESSICA ALDRIDGE - Zero Waste Professional, Educator, Organizer 

About the Guru: Jessica helped secure and roll out the largest waste-franchise agreement in U.S. history (recycLA in the City of Los Angeles). She is a recipient of the international 2021 Women in Sustainability Leadership Award and the 2016 inaugural Waste360 40 Under 40 Award. She is the current Director of Sustainability and Zero Waste Programs for Athens Services. 

Insights shared at the event: 

Problems Solutions
  • Much of waste generation occurs before products get to us and after we “recycle” materials
  • Plastic is marketed as recyclable, but virgin plastic is cheaper to make than recycled plastic and thus only 9% of plastics actually get a “second life”.
  • Say no to plastics as much as possible (even compostable plastics). Opt for reusable products like canteens, silicon bags, totes, wax wraps, and bamboo cutlery. 
  • Organic waste is piling up and creating methane in our landfills when it could be returned to the earth. 
  • Take advantage of composting bins once they become available in your neighborhood thanks to SB 1383.
  • Compost at home - Learn how by attending a virtual composting workshop hosted by the City of Long Beach.  

 *Geyer, Roland & Jambeck, Jenna & Law, Kara (2017). Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made, Science Advances. 3. E1700782

 

ANIKA BALLENT - Oceanographer, Educator, Activist 

About the Guru At Jacobs University Bremen and University of Western Ontario Anika pursued a degree in oceanography which opened her eyes to the issue of microplastic pollution. Now as the Education Director at Algalita, she creates novel education programs to prepare young people to be critical thinkers who demand a better future. 

Insights shared at the event:

Problems Solutions
  • On its current trajectory, plastic production alone could consume more than 12% of the earth’s remaining carbon budget by 2050.1
  • Plastic is not biodegradable
  • Plastic threatens eco systems
  • Use your consumer power to demonstrate demand for non-plastic materials. For example, when clothing shopping, avoid synthetics. 
  • Shop at refill stores such as BYO Long Beach.
  • Move beyond the concept of owning and embrace community resource sharing. Read more!  

1 – Center for international Environmental Law – Plastics and Climate Report 

 

ADITI MAYER fashion blogger, photojournalist, and labor rights activist

About the Guru – Aditi approaches her work from multiple domains: through grassroots organizing in Downtown LA's garment district and educating folks on the importance of diverse perspectives in sustainability. Her work has been featured in Vogue, The Guardian, Vox, and CNN Style and she serves on the Intersectional Environmentalist Council and with State of Fashion. 

Insights shared at the event:

Problems Solutions
  • The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions.
  • 60% percent of clothing today is made of synthetic materials, which are the leading cause of microplastic pollution in oceans. 
  • LA Garment workers are underpaid. They are typically paid per piece, which amounts to an average of $6/hr.  
  • The colonization of the fashion industry, which is predicated on the extraction and exploitation of resources, from raw materials to labor, as the means for infinite growth and profits.
  • Avoid fast fashion. Shop at used clothing retailers and purchase quality products that last.
  • Avoid purchasing new synthetic clothing articles
  • Garment Worker Protection Act – aims to eliminate the piece rate system. Sign the petition to show your support.
  • Decolonize the fashion industry by addressing wealth inequality, dismantling the current system that prioritizes speed, and returning to ancestral Indigenous knowledge in textile production. 
  • Help decolonize the fashion industry by shopping at small businesses with sustainably sourced garments. Not sure where to start? Check out this list of Fairtrade certified companies 

Keep an eye out for our spring Sustainability Speakers Series!  

Acknowledgments

Graphic Design & Layout by Krista Dajay, Sustainability Graphic Designer 

Photo Credits

Tatiana Mata - Cover 

Sean Dufree - Page 3, 4, 7 - 8

Green Film School Alliance (GFSA) - Page 5, 6

Monica Argandona - Page 9, 10

Naja Bertolt Jensen - Page 11

Alexander Schimmeck - Page 12

Authors & Contributors 

Samantha Calloway, Sustainability Zero Waste Assistant

Holli Fajack, Sustainability Coordinator 

Kayla Jolly, Sustainability Program Specialist 

Christine Whitcraft, Director, Environmental Science and Policy 

Kent Hayward, Associate Professor, Film Production

Jayden Maree, Founder of Climate Action Team

Greg Camphire, Marketing Copywriter / Web Content Specialist

Monica Argandona, Environmental Science and Policy, Faculty & Advisor Director, Sustainability, Management and Policy MS

 

 

Spring/Summer 2021 (Issue #2)

Contents

Welcome!

The President’s Commission on Sustainability and the Office of Planning and Sustainability are delighted to present the second issue of Turning the Tide, our biannual digital magazine highlighting sustainability efforts and achievements at CSU Long Beach. In this issue, we take a moment to reflect on what has been a strange and challenging year and celebrate the ways that, despite the pandemic, we were able to move our sustainability initiatives forward and engage our students and community along the way. Spring into this Spring/Summer 2021 issue to learn about how we’ve been turning the tide for a future where we can be united in person once again.

Reaching for the STARS

CSULB Receives Silver STARS Rating for Sustainability Assessment Report

There’s a famous adage that, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” But what do you do when the thing you are trying to measure is as multifaceted and complex as sustainability? The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) is the answer to that question for the higher education sector. 

A program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), STARS is an internationally recognized, rigorous self-assessment framework that helps institutions track and compare their sustainability progress in five key areas. Reports must be submitted every three years to retain an active rating in the AASHE STARS database, which means that CSULB was due to update its 2017 STARS report this year.

Even in the middle of the global pandemic, completing CSULB’s STARS report was more important than ever. The establishment of the President’s Commission on Sustainability (PCS) in 2018 and the values and priorities that emerged from the Imagine BEACH 2030 event that same year, underlined the university’s commitment to promoting sustainability through our operational practices, academic programs, planning and administration policies and practices, and community engagement efforts.

From March to December 2020, data was compiled on the four sustainability areas of the STARS framework. Examples of this included an extensive inventory of all sustainability-focused and sustainability- inclusive course offerings in the CSULB catalog and an assessment of the university’s sustainable procurement policies and guidelines. In addition to academics and operations, staff collected valuable data about the university’s current engagement and planning efforts, ranging from sustainability-focused outreach campaigns to diversity and equity coordination

“The data we collect for STARS not only helps compare progress over time, but also allows us to continue working building a more sustainable campus” said Lilian Ledesma, Sustainability Specialist.

Once all data was inputted into the reporting tool platform, AASHE staff reviewed the submission to provide its STARS rating. For latest version of STARS (v2.2), CSULB scored a total of 58.82 points, earning a Silver rating. Although the campus rating remained the same as its 2017 rating (v2.1), this year’s overall score increased by 17%, with significant improvements in key areas including Academics, Operations, and Planning & Administration. With just 12 points away from reaching Gold rating, this year’s report also highlighted future opportunities to continue moving CSULB closer to its sustainability goals.

CSULB’s increased overall score also highlighted a significant improvement from its 2017 ranking among other campuses in the CSU system. Out of the 21 CSU campuses who have submitted a STARS report, CSULB ranked 14th. Systemwide, CSU Northridge ranked the highest with a Gold Rating (74.33 points), just shy of the 10 points needed to reach the highest STARS rating of Platinum.

Similar to the 2017 report, the Sustainability Office prioritized data reporting protocols that were accurate, honest, and at times, austere, even when that meant scoring less points in certain credits. However, this has earned CSULB the distinction of being considered a “best practice” institution for several of STARS credits, including the Sustainability Course Inventory. “We have one of strictest data collection protocols, which does make it a little difficult to score higher. However, we value submitting a report that is an accurate representation of our campus sustainability so that can we continue to make progress in the right direction,” remarked Sustainability Coordinator, Holli Fajack.

Despite the strict standards the university holds itself to, a number of credits showed drastic improvements from the 2017 report. For example, the campus doubled its score in the Academic Courses Inventory credit which identifies the number of sustainability-focused and –inclusive courses offered in the campus catalog. This is a great sign of the effectiveness of faculty opportunities offered on campus that encourage sustainability integration into the curriculum, such as the annual faculty Green Thread Workshop. The most recent report also highlighted different opportunities for growth and improvement in several of the focus areas. Credits ranging from creating a sustainability student educators program to conducting an assessment of sustainability culture were not pursued this time around, but help call attention to future opportunities for sustainability outreach programs. Other future opportunities include developing a residential green living guide, incentivizing faculty and student research in sustainability, and transitioning all campus fleet vehicles to low or zero emissions fuel sources, just to name a few.

Overall, the 2020 report was crucial in providing a meaningful comparison between current sustainability initiative and programs to those from our baseline 2017 report. With the STARS benchmark tool, the Sustainability Office will continue to reach for the “stars” when it comes to evaluating, assessing and more importantly, planning for future opportunities to expand and improve the university’s sustainability practices across all campus areas. CSULB’s current rating is set to expire on March 4, 2024. To check out our 2017 and 2020 reports, click here.

Prioritizing Intersectional Sustainability

Bringing and Equity and Social Justice Lens to CSULB's Sustainability Efforts

Sustainability is often described as a three- legged stool that depends on equal consideration of environmental, social, and economic health to ensure a stable and viable planet and society. Regardless, most people still tend to perceive environmental conservation as the dominant, if not the only, priority when it comes to their understanding of what sustainability means in practice.

The President’s Commission on Sustainability (PCS) and the Office of Sustainability are on a mission to broaden this perspective and promote a culture of sustainability that is more comprehensive, inclusive, and representative of issues that affect both people and the planet. Over the past year in particular, sustainability leaders at the university have been actively working to redefine what sustainability means to us here at The Beach. This effort has been manifested in the following ways:

Amplifying the Voices of Leaders of Color

Communities that are disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution and the negative effects of climate change tend to be lower-income, people of color whose voices are not always included in conversations about solutions to these problems.

This was a motivating factor behind much of the sustainability programming offered this academic year including the Climate Justice = Social Justice speaker series and Why Your Vote Matters event in the fall, and the Taking Action for People and the Planet event in the spring. All these events featured leaders of color who are on the front lines of the climate and environmental justice movement.

These events provided an opportunity for them to share their insights and perspective about the importance of building a more inclusive and intersectional sustainability movement. Representation matters, not only because a majority of our students are people of color themselves, but also because finding solutions to our most critical challenges will require engagement of all people, especially those who are most at risk.

Integrating Environmental Justice into the Curriculum

In February, the PCS sponsored a special curriculum workshop for faculty to broaden their understanding of the intersections of social justice, equity, diversity and sustainability and help them learn strategies for integrating these topics into their courses. It was a modified version of the Green Thread Workshop, a program established at CSULB 10 years ago to educate faculty about infusing sustainability into the curriculum.

Recognizing the need to engage our faculty and students in conversations about systemic racism and its many negative outcomes, the workshop was reformatted to focus on issues of environmental and climate justice. The success of this pilot version of the workshop has since prompted the Commission to sponsor two faculty fellows to spend the summer further developing the workshop into a program that can be offered on an ongoing basis.

Providing Resources to Redefine Sustainability

The Office of Sustainability, which manages the sustainability webpages on csulb.edu and the CSULB Sustainability social media accounts, has always made an effort to highlight the social justice aspect of sustainability in its communications. This semester, those efforts were prioritized anew when the office partnered with the College of Liberal Arts’ new Sustainability and Environmental Justice Internship class. Two interns spent the semester researching best practices for communicating and educating our campus community about environmental justice. Read more about this internship program and the contributions of these students in the article that follows.

We know that our efforts to shift the sustainability conversation from one primarily about polar bears and solar panels to one focused on people, public health and justice will be ongoing. We plan to build on the progress made this year and continue to reevaluate how we communicate about and push toward a more just, sustainable world.

Preparing Tomorrow's Environmental Justice Leaders

Internship Program Exposes Students to Organizations Promoting Social Justice & Sustainability

In the CLA Internship Program, Dr. Kimberly Kelly brought together the inaugural cohort of student interns and community organizations focused on Sustainability and Environmental Justice (SEJ). Dr. Kelly established the SEJ cohort to bring together like-minded students and community activists who see the inextricable link between climate change, social justice and environmental racism.

As she reflects on the cohort, she sees “this opportunity as a key pathway for CLA students outside traditional environmental-focused degree programs to gain access to SEJ careers and activism.” Organizations that participated in this partnership included Long Beach Organic, OC Habitat, Grades of Green Inc., Ground Education, GRID Alternatives, and the Office of Sustainability at CSULB.

The university’s Sustainability Coordinator, Holli Fajack, and Sustainability Program Specialist, Lilian Ledesma worked with and mentored two student interns this semester.

Sienna Thompson, a fourth year American Studies major, and Leslie Lira, a fourth year Environmental Science major, worked together on various projects aimed at enhancing the university’s communications about environmental justice issues.

In their roles as communication interns, Sienna and Leslie were responsible for conducting research and making recommendations on ways the university can better promote environmental and social justice. They compiled a conprehensive resource guide, mocked-up new environmental justice-focused website pages, and drafted several new versions of a definition of sustainability that encompasses equity, public health, and social justice. They also created a social media campaign in February to highlight Black leaders of the environmental movement in honor of Black History Month.

Holli and Lilian recognized how important it was to have students create the resource guide and other content to appeal to their target audience. “We want students to feel like they are a part of the conversation. We want them to feel empowered and they are as much a part of the team as we are,” Lilian said in recognizing how valuable the student interns have been.

The Office of Sustainability was excited to recruit students from a course that had a similar focus to their own mission statement. Though this experience may not directly overlap with students’ professional goals, both Sienna and Leslie recognize their ability to translate these skills in their future careers. “I have learned many professional and life skills during my time here that I will carry with me in my future endeavors,” said Sienna, who hopes to become a physician’s assistant and use her newly acquired knowledge of social justice issues to aid in the fight for equal access to healthcare.

Likewise, Leslie would like to obtain a position in a non-profit organization that allows her to advocate for marginalized populations. “This collaboration with CSULB’s Office of Sustainability has provided me with the opportunity to explore career options in the social justice sector,” Leslie shared. “Prior to working as a communications intern, I had never considered working in this field, but this opportunity has given me a lot to think about.”

Leslie and Sienna’s experience is reflective of the other student interns in the program, all of which have had the opportunity to explore the multifaceted concept of sustainability and develop the essential skills that can be translated to any profession. They brought value to the organization by adding capacity and offering student insights to help the organizations they worked with achieve their goals. Like Sienna and Leslie, other students in the SEJ cohort supported their host organizations by implementing action-oriented projects to promote sustainability and environmental justice, including creating webinars, resource guides, toolkits, and program blueprints. Dr. Kelly’s CLA 492 class has allowed students and organizations to come together in the fight for environmental and social justice, preparing and inspiring the next generation of climate justice leaders.

Thinking Outside the Box

sm[ART]box Showcases Innovative Sustainable Design Solutions on Campus Through 2022

Bold and bright, sm[ART]box landed on campus in December 2020. Built from a reclaimed steel shipping container and wrapped in vibrant designs by South Korean digital artist, Yaloo, this curious structure has a serious purpose. sm[ART]box was created by TBM Designs to pilot test a revolutionary self-shading window system over a period of two years. Called the InVert™ Self-Shading Window System, this technology applies the dynamic properties of thermostatic bimetal (tbm) to shade building interiors and thereby reduce cooling costs.

Doris Sung, the inventor of InVertTM, had been in conversation for many years with Kristina Newhouse, CSULB’s curator of the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum about smart technology and sustainable design. So when the opportunity emerged to collaborate and bring the sm[Art]box to campus they both jumped at the chance. Fortunately, there was much interest and support from another important partner, CSULB’s Beach Building Services department, which has embraced Net- Zero Energy standards in many recent campus projects.

TBM Designs’ InVertTM system makes the material components of sm[ART]box “smart.” Architect and TBM Designs co-founder Doris Sung spent over a decade researching biophilic materials, or materials that mimic features found in nature, to create this elegant solution. Using tbm components typically found in thermostats, Sung adapted this material to the built environment, fashioning it to be as aesthetically pleasing as it is responsive to temperature.

The sm[ART]box’s InVertTM shades consist of individual tbm “petals” laid out in a grid inside the structure’s sealed window cavities. As the sun moves overhead, each petal curls and thereby reflects sunlight away from the glass. This activity occurs without electrical intervention or maintenance. By efficiently blocking direct sunlight and responding to the changing outdoor temperature, the InVertTM system ensures the interior of the structure requires less air conditioning. Over the next two years, TBM Designs will collect temperature data with the goal of developing InVertTM for the building industry.

Why is sm[ART]box on Campus? At CSULB, using our campus as a living laboratory for showcasing, modeling, and testing innovative solutions is a key component of our sustainability and academic missions. As project host, the Museum appreciates this opportunity to participate in collaborative, creative research that allows everyone to collectively envision a more sustainable future.

The biophilic application of smart technology reveals how many disciplines – from art, architecture, engineering, physics, and applied mathematics—can converge to solve real problems. The project’s fusion of material resiliency, human health and global wellness also aligns with CSULB’s environmental goals named in the President’s Commission on Sustainability (PCS). sm[ART]box integrates sustainability with university life and offers opportunities for everyone to converse about clean technology, the circular economy, and a more arts-integrated future.

Perhaps the ingenuity embodied in sm[ART] box can galvanize students, faculty, campus community members and the public to ponder artful solutions as they become stronger stewards of the Earth.

Turning Over a Greener Leaf

How Remote Work Conditions Led to New Efficiencies and Dramatic Paper Savings

The pandemic turned our world upside down and changed so much of our day to day home and work lives. But not all of the changes forced upon us during this past year have been unwelcomed. In fact, in some cases, the pandemic and the abrupt shift to telecommuting was just the push that was needed to bring about some long delayed process improvements. Case in point, the incredible efforts that so many departments on campus have made to shift many previously paper based administrative processes to 100% digital!

According to Malia Freund, the Assistant Vice President of Financial Management and former Director of Procurement, the impacts of transitioning to paperless processes in just the Procurement department alone have been tremendous. “[Procurement] has always been a big printing department…with all buyers, contracts and risk management staff now working remote, we have decreased our printing significantly, basically to almost zero,” Freund shared.

This has been achieved in several ways. For example, all documents that previously required wet signatures in Procurement, Contracts, and

Risk are now being signed electronically, saving huge amounts of paper and toner and saving the department money on these office supplies. Likewise, nearly two dozen paper-based application forms have been converted over to the DocuSign platform, streamlining these processes in addition to cutting paper use. In fact, according to DocuSign’s internal tracking system, the university has saved the equivalent of more than 64,000 pounds of wood, 190,000 gallons of water, and 150,000 pounds of carbon emissions by using the platform instead of paper forms.

Converting the ProCard (university procurement credit card) reconciliation process to digital has also been a game changer. The university has over 400 ProCard cardholders, each of whom submit an average of eight attachments as part of their monthly reconciliation reports. Historically, each of those attachments had to be printed, scanned, and uploaded to the department’s digital storage system. By requiring ProCard cardholders to submit all documentation digitally, those approximately 2400 pages of documentation are no longer being printed each month and staff save time by avoiding that extra step of scanning each and every page.

According to Freund, tackling this electronic ProCard submission project was a priority for many years but, until the pandemic forced the issue, she had always been told it couldn’t be done. Turning that “can’t do it” into “done” was only possible due to the problem-solving skills of multiple groups including Financial Management Information Systems (FMIS), CMS Financial Services, Procurement, and Accounts Payable, whose staff worked quickly and collaboratively to find a solution. Together, these groups’ efforts have resulted in more than 250,000 pieces of paper and nearly $13,000 saved over the last year!

Now that the ball is rolling on transitioning away from paper heavy processes, these departments, as well as those in other divisions and departments across the university, are all looking for additional ways to adopt more efficient, paperless methods. For example, CMS Financial Services created a new online training video to teach users how to use the “Print to PDF” function instead of relying on printed copies of documents. The training is designed to help users manage, combine, and save documents digitally and the more people on campus who learn this skill, the more paper we can collectively save.

Although no one anticipated a year of working remotely, the hard work and innovative efforts of folks across many departments have ensured that there is at least one silver lining that we will continue to benefit from even after we return to campus.

Did your department convert a paper-based process to digital? We’d love to hear about it at sustainability@ csulb.edu.

It's Electric. It's Shared. It's the Future of Transportation. 

How Mobility is Changing Faster Than Ever Before

Well over half a century after a California researcher determined that pollutants from traffic were to blame for LA’s smoggy skies, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that by 2035 all new car sales in the state must be electric vehicles (Source: EPA). The same month the Governor made this announcement, LA Metro launched the Fareless System Initiative, a task force assigned to work on a proposal to eliminate fares for all riders on Metro buses and trains (Source: Metro). Meanwhile, the pandemic ignited a bicycle boom leading to a 14% increase in Long Beach Bike Share memberships in 2020 compared to 2019. These policies, initiatives and trends hint at a brighter outlook for the future of transportation, one that is shaped by electric and shared mobility options.

There are myriad incentives for ditching fossil- fueled vehicles and going electric including rebates, federal tax credits, fuel savings, and carpool lane access. Although in 2019 only 1% of cars on the road in California were Battery Electric Vehicles, there has been a dramatic upward trend in adoption as an increasing number of people begin to take advantage of the benefits of EV ownership. California has a medium-term goal of increasing the number of EVs on the road eight-fold, aspiring to reach 5 million zero emission vehicles by 2030. To support EV drivers, the state is also looking to increase the number of available charging stations from nearly 13,000 to 250,000 by 2025 (Sources: US DOE & CA PUC.)

In addition to the exponential growth of EV ownership, increased adoption of shared mobility methods is also occurring. LA Metro’s Fareless System Initiative is exploring a free fare program for low-income riders beginning in January 2022, as well as free rides for K-12 students beginning as early as August 2022 (Source: CBS Los Angeles). These are significant steps toward the grander vision of eliminating fares for all riders.

How could such a program be fiscally feasible? In 2019, the last full year prior to the pandemic, revenue generated from fares only covered 13% of operational costs. The rest of Metro expenses were covered by Prop A and Prop C related sales tax (Source: Metro). By ditching fares, some operational efficiencies will be gained, thus reducing costs. To make up for the remainder, Metro may pursue increased advertising opportunities and other revenue generating activities as they become available. Additionally, Metro has stated that “there will be a very real opportunity to use state and/or federal grants to help pay for fareless transit” (Source: Metro). FREE transit in Los Angeles County may become a reality in the near future, and FREE is a well- loved word. This fareless ride pilot is expected to spark increased travel by bus and light rail.

While some individuals may be increasingly drawn to sharing commutes in a bus or train, others may be increasingly attracted to sharing a blue city bike with their neighbors. The city plans to increase the inventory of the iconic blue bikeshare bikes nearly two-fold, from 802 to over 1,400 by this October. To ensure that riders have safe locations to lock up after their journeys, the City will also be expanding the number of hub locations. As the City introduces more bikes and hubs, the upward trend in bike share memberships is likely to continue.

Access to transportation alternatives like public transit and bike share, along with recent increases in remote working conditions, has prompted one CSULB employee to transition to a “single car household”, another form of “sharing” that is on the rise. This employee is ahead of the curve, as predicted by Business Insider which projected an 80% reduction in personal vehicle ownership by 2030 (Business Insider, 2017). Learn about the benefits of car sharing and find out how much you can save by ditching a car by reading that employee’s story.

Since the beginning of civilization, the way humans get around has never stopped evolving and the pace has only increased as time as marched on. Electric vehicle popularity is skyrocketing and LA Metro may soon provide free transit to a number of their riders as early as January 2022. Those who share a bus or train ride, those who share a bike with their neighbors, and those who share a car with their partner, family member or roommate, are all helping to shape a greener transportation landscape for us all.

Do you want to be a part of the changing transportation landscape? Check out the incentives for electric vehicle ownership, try using transit, obtain a bike share membership, or become a single car household.

Did you need more information about electric cars? Check out our Earth Week(s) Event Drive Electric Lunch and Learn

Earth Week(s) at the Beach Make an Impact

Virtual Events Celebrate Sustainability, Wellness, Transportation, and Climate Justice

Each April, we traditionally celebrate Earth Day with a week of events. This year, one week was not enough! Earth Week(s) at the Beach brought special, virtual events to the screens of the campus community throughout the month of April. CSULB Sustainability collaborated with Sustainable Transportation, CSULB Geography Student Association (GSA), Environmental Science & Policy (ESP) Club, Student Health Services (SHS), Sustain U, Beach Balance, Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), and the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, to host programming focused on topics such as wellness, transportation, climate justice and more.

From April 1-30, the CSU-Wide Earth Month Eco-Challenge Competition called on participants across all 23 CSU campuses to earn points by completing daily and one-time actions related to a variety of environmental and social issues that help reduce their carbon footprint. By the end of the month-long challenge, Eco-Challenge Teams across the CSU earned over 64,000 points, with our CSULB team coming in fourth place with 6,181 points. Two CSULB students were also among the top 20 scoring participants in the entire CSU system!

The rest of the month featured a variety of events aimed at empowering students to pursue positive changes in their everyday lives. Events included an Instagram live conversation about the benefits and challenges of switching to sustainable consumer products and a workshop on ways to reduce your carbon footprint by growing a garden at home. Students also had an opportunity to ask a panel of professionals in the sustainability sector about their unique journeys to pursuing a green career.

As a commuter campus, sustainable transportation is always an important topic so this year featured two events aimed at informing staff and faculty about available electric vehicle rebates and tips for choosing the right bike route to commute to and from campus. The middle of the week was fittingly the centerpiece of Earth Week, the Sustainability Project Showcase. This year, the Office of Sustainability, ASI, and the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship partnered to host the Innovation Hour Sustainability Showcase, which featured over 60 sustainability-related student projects representing 9 disciplines. Attendees explored the project submissions via an online gallery, while learning how environmental issues and sustainable solutions can be applied across different fields. 

"It was inspiring to see students from different majors showcasing their projects with the same goal of creating a more sustainable future," remarked Eddie Rangel, a 3rd-year mechanical engineering major. 

Along with Sustainability Officers from the other CSU campuses, CSULB co-hosted Taking Action for People & the Planet, an engaging panel discussion featuring young intersectional environmental and climate justice movement leaders. These influencers discussed their efforts to activate change within their own communities. Through action-oriented breakout sessions, panelists were able to provide students with an advocacy “toolkit” and skills for using their voices to advocate for a future that is sustainable and just for all.

Missed an Earth Week(s) event or want to dive deeper into a topic? Check out our Virtual Learning Resources Page to see available recordings of past sustainability events. 

Acknowledgments

Graphic Design & Layout by Vincent-Joseph Sumiguin, Sustainability Graphic Designer

Photo Credits:

Sean Dufree - Cover, pages 2, 7, 13

Artem Cherednik - Page 12

TBM Designs, courtesy Doris Sung, Karen Sabath and Scott Horwitz - Page 11

Valerie Rose Palacios - Page 14

Authors & Contributors

Eddie Rangel, Sustainability Program Student Assistant

Lilian Ledesma, Sustainability Program Specialist

Holli Fajack, Sustainability Coordinator

Kayla Jolly, Sustainable Transportation Coordinator

Amanda Fruta, Public Affairs & Communication Specialist, Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum

Alicia Castro, Internship Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Kimberly Kelly, Associate Professor and Internship Coordinator, Human Development

Malia Freund, Assistant Vice President, Financial Management

 

Fall/Winter 2020-21 (Issue #1) 

Contents

Welcome

On behalf of the President’s Commission on Sustainability and the CSULB Office of Planning and Sustainability, thank you for checking out the inaugural issue of Turning the Tide! This digital magazine will be published twice a year to keep our community informed about important sustainability-related issues and highlight the ways the university is greening our campus and preparing our students to lead the way to a healthier, more resilient future. So, go ahead. Turn the page to learn how we are turning the tide to move toward a better tomorrow.

It Takes a Village

The History & Folks Behind CSULB’s Sustainability Leadership

When President Conoley green lit the creation of a Presidential Commission on Sustainability (PCS) in 2018, it was an important signal to our community that sustainability and climate action are top university priorities. The mission of the PCS is to integrate sustainability—defined as an intentional and simultaneous focus on environmental, social, and economic health—into all aspects of the university. This mission encompasses everything from weaving sustainability and climate literacy into the curriculum to ensuring that campus operations are moving us closer to achieving the university’s carbon neutrality goals.

The PCS is made up of faculty from every college, administrators who have the decision-making power to move sustainability goals forward, student leaders, and community partners with expertise in sustainability challenges that extend beyond the borders of our campus.

But the PCS is just the latest manifestation of the university’s commitments to sustainability. In truth, the work of promoting a greener, more efficient, more resilient campus has been happening for some time and involves many individuals and groups at CSULB. The PCS was preceded by the Sustainability Task Force, a body that was formed in 2011 after the Academic Senate pushed the university’s president at that time to sign an ambitious climate commitment and create a climate action plan. Over the seven years it existed, the Task Force helped generate momentum around sustainability initiatives while expanding the network of campus leaders and stakeholders involved in the work, all of which created a solid foundation for the PCS to build.

The past six years have also seen the creation and growth of the Office of Sustainability, which did not officially exist prior to 2014. Now staffed by two full time employees and two student assistants, the Office of Sustainability works on academic collaborations, greening operations, reporting and marketing, policy development, and student engagement, among other activities.

The Office of Sustainability is housed within the Beach Building Services department, which is responsible for developing and maintaining the campus and embraces sustainability as a guiding principle in that work. The Office of Sustainability staff also work closely with the Sustainable Transportation Coordinator in Parking and Transportation Services to develop and advance programs aimed at reducing commute-related impacts.

However, when it comes to sustainability and environmental advocacy, it is really the students of CSULB who have the longest and most impressive legacy of leadership. Students started recycling programs at the university more than 40 years ago, an initiative that led to the creation of the ASI Recycling Center. Although the center was recently forced to close due to ongoing financial pressures that were only made worse by the pandemic.

ASI’s sustainability efforts live on, led by Sustain U and many generations of ASI government leaders. They started the first composting program on campus, passed a sustainability policy, supported dozens of student organizations advocating to sustainability, and pushed for the creation of the campus garden, Grow Beach.

Read on to learn about the ways that all of these campus partners are working together to make CSULB a model of a sustainable campus.

Up To The Challenge

New Housing Buildings to Be First in the CSU to Receive Living Building Challenge Certification

With 9 LEED certified buildings and the first Net Zero Energy classroom building in the CSU System, CSULB has a strong track record of being a model campus for higher education sustainable design and construction. The new Housing Administration and Commons and Parkside North Commons Dorms currently under construction are the latest example of this leadership. The Administration Building will be the first in the CSU system to carry all three designations as a Living Building Challenge (LBC) certified, LEED Platinum certified, and Net-Zero Energy project (according to LBC definition) and will be one of only 25 fully LBC-certified buildings in the world. The Parkside North Commons Dorms will be LBC certified for the energy, place, and beauty performance areas, as well as Net-Zero Energy and LEED Platinum.

The Living Building Challenge is a rigorous, international standard for green buildings, which exceeds the criteria used in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program. To become Living Building Challenge certified, projects must be regenerative, energy and water self-sufficient, free of toxic chemicals, and able to connect occupants with the natural environment through its design. LBC-certification is only granted after projects demonstrate that they meet the criteria across some or all of seven performance petals (see side bar) for a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy.

“The entire design build team, from our Housing partners, to the contractors and consultants, and especially the University Design and Construction Services group, took on this project understanding we are not building for today, but for the future,” says Monica Amalfitano, Associate Director of the campus’ Design & Construction team.

The Administration and Commons Building projects broke ground last year near Hillside Residential Housing and will consist of two buildings: a single story, 4,500 square foot Housing Residential Life (HRL) office building and the two-story, 8,000 square foot commons building that will include gathering spaces and a few apartments for faculty and VIP guests. The Parkside North Dorms will include more than 450 beds for students, as well as pod study rooms, kitchens, community space and outdoor courtyard space.

Using the LBC framework, the project will feature an array of sustainable building design elements including:

  • Over 300 solar photovoltaic panels on the building roof and central courtyard canopy, which will provide 100% of the building’s electricity needs
  • Purple pipe plumbing for recycled water that will save more than 1.5 million gallons of potable water annually
  • Water and energy submeters to optimize building technology and inform ongoing operations and maintenance needs
  • Operable windows to allow for natural ventilation instead of relying entirely on HVAC
  • Diversion of 95% of total construction and debris waste from the landfill
  • Reuse of existing brick foundation which will divert 95% of total C&D debris from going into landfill
  • Bike storage racks to support sustainable, zero emissions transportation

The new Administration and Commons Building projects are expected to be completed by Fall 2021 and will set the new standard beyond LEED certification for CSULB moving forward. Using this framework, CSULB will not only serve as a model campus for the CSU system, but it will also continue to be a sustainability trailblazer in higher education.

Sustaining Sustainability In A Virtual World

Finding Ways to Support Faculty and Keep Students Engaged in Sustainability

When the pandemic hit back in March, it put life as we know it on hold and forced our entire campus community to quickly reimagine the way we teach, learn, and connect. For the CSULB Office of Sustainability, the immediate, short-term implications meant cancelling the big April celebrations we had planned around the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, letting student interns go, halting some projects, and rethinking the priorities they had outlined for the next academic year. Recognizing that the rapid and unexpected pivot to remote teaching in the spring had put a tremendous strain on faculty, the Office of Sustainability wanted to find ways to help.

They went about this in several ways. The first was to outreach to faculty prior to the start of the fall semester to offer to give guest lectures on a variety of topics. They received requests from faculty in six out of eight colleges and have given presentations to their classes throughout the fall semester.

“Whenever I get the opportunity to expose my students to tools and concepts that they can apply today, I take the opportunity. Having Holli and Lilian join my class to speak about how we—as a collective society—can address climate change was invaluable and provided several practical frameworks that my students will remember and apply for years to come” said College of Business faculty member Dr. Chris Najera.

“We thought that one of the best ways we could support faculty and help relieve some of the burden would be to focus on providing high-quality remote student learning opportunities on a range of sustainability topics that would hopefully be appealing to a lot of different disciplines," said Holli Fajack, Sustainability Coordinator

Presentation topics have included CSULB’s sustainability programs and commitments, a general overview of climate change issues and solutions, the impacts of climate change on public health, and the intersections of environmental, social, and racial justice.

The Office of Sustainability also ramped up its efforts to support faculty teaching courses with a service-learning component by taking on teams of students from three different classes. One team took on a research-focused project aimed at pulling together ideas and inspiration for educational displays for the future sustainability center on campus. Another team researched best practices for communicating the intersectionality of environmental and social justice issues, an effort that will help inform the work of the Presidential Commission on Sustainability. The third team worked to produce short, inspiring “call-to-action” videos that will be shared on CSULB Sustainability’s social media and YouTube.

But by far the largest student engagement effort involved collaborating with campus partners and sustainability officers across the CSU system to organize a series of high-impact events for October Sustainability Month. The Climate Justice = Social Justice speaker series featured well-established and youth BIPOC leaders who shared inspiration and insights from the front lines of the climate justice movement. More than 1,000 students, faculty, staff, and community members tuned in for the two live webinars, and the recordings have been viewed more than 830 times (as of November 2020).

The Office of Sustainability also hosted Why Your Vote Matters, an event featuring U.S. Senator Cory Booker, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and CSULB alum Melissa Romero from the California League of Conservation Voters. More than 400 individuals took part in the live and recorded event, which was designed to empower participants to help create a more just and sustainable world by engaging in the political process on election day and beyond.

These events along with others organized by campus partners as part of Sustainability Month at the Beach have been archived on a new web page that the Office of Sustainability recently created to serve as an ongoing virtual learning resource for faculty and students. Their goal is to continue adding resources to the site, continue providing class presentations upon request, and continue to work with service-learning students and interns throughout the spring semester. 

“We want to keep sustainability at the forefront of students’ minds and make sure faculty know we have their backs,” said Sustainability Specialist, Lilian Ledesma. “Eventually, COVID-19 will be behind us but the issues of environmental conservation and climate and social justice are going to continue to be relevant.”

Spreading Its Roots

ASI’s Grow Beach Relocating to Central Campus

Grow Beach is putting down roots at a new location with hopes of encouraging more student engagement and academic integration opportunities. Formerly located at the northwestern most corner of campus next to the Isabel Patterson Child Development Center (IPCDC), the garden will be soon be moved to the western lawn of the Health and Human Services building. The garden was displaced by the new campus housing project, but it may be a blessing in disguise as the new location opens up new possibilities. 

Overseen by ASI’s Sustain U, Grow Beach is a student-led community garden that has plots available for students, faculty and staff to rent for a small fee each semester to grow their own organic produce. In the past, campus gardeners have grown everything from kale, spinach, tomatoes, and strawberries to marigold flowers.

The garden was first conceptualized and proposed by students back in 2013. After the founding members of Grow Beach all graduated, Sustain U took over its management and operations, but the garden’s original mission of being student-led and student-focused has remained. During the 2017-2018 academic year and under the leadership of Arnecia Bryant, Associate Director of Operations, and a small group of committed students, Daniel Pierce, Lamiya Hogue, Aziz Fellague Ariouat, Cindy Tseng, Gabrielle Delayo and Kimberly Cruz, garden volunteers increased from 5-10 gardeners to over 50 gardeners.

Since then, the garden has worked with various class projects, established a learning plot for children at the IPCDC and provided fresh food for Beach Pantry.  After 24-months, a harvest of more than 10lbs a week was provided to Beach Pantry.  In 2019, Grow Beach garden was the winner of a Sustainable Program Award at California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC).

With plans to break ground this upcoming summer, ASI has been working with various campus stakeholders and the Office of Planning & Sustainability to redesign the garden for its new location. The new 3000 square foot garden will be ADA compliant and feature 24 raised garden beds, a fenced perimeter, and a seating area. 

The west lawn of the Health & Human Services building was chosen as the new location for several reasons. One is its close proximity to the University Student Union and along Friendship Walk, one of the most heavily trafficked areas of campus, making it much more accessible and convenient for students, faculty and staff than the previous location had been. Another is that the area receives plenty of sunlight throughout the year and already contains irrigation infrastructure. 

The garden’s new location is also part of the campus’ broader vision of creating a prominent “sustainability zone,” including the future Center for a Sustainable Future on the central plant deck and a sustainability mural on the north side of the Kinesiology building. 

Plans for the redesign of the garden will incorporate sustainable elements including recycled plastic furniture, reclaimed wood for the raised beds, and shade umbrellas in the seating area that will be fitted with solar panels for phone and laptop recharging. Reclaimed water will also eventually provide irrigation for the garden. 

Since it was created, the garden has been used as a venue for various campus events hosted by Sustain U and as a learning laboratory for various courses (see side bar). The relocated garden will continue to be used for these purposes, as learning laboratories are essential to key performance indicators, specifically in determining operational achievements for the organization as benchmarked against other campus gardens.  In Grow Beach’s case, the collaborative learning laboratory resulted in a Best Practice Award at CHESC.

The Grow Beach garden will also help to address students’ basic needs. Prior to the pandemic, 41.6% of students are already food insecure and the economic consequences due to COVID pandemic are likely to make food security issues even more prevalent. The Grow Beach garden will help provide fresh produce to the Beach Pantry, while also providing a centrally located space for the campus community to grow and harvest their own sustainable food.

Grow Beach in the Classroom

For the past 7 years, Family and Consumer Sciences Associate Professor Dr. Libby Gustin has integrated the Grow Beach garden into her HM 370 course, “Exploring a Sustainable Food System.” The course allows students to grow sustainable food in the campus garden, work with local farmers in the community, provide produce to the campus food pantry, and develop simple, nutrient dense recipes to encourage other students to start their own at-home garden. This course won a Best Practice Award at the 2019 CA Higher-Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) as a campus model for sustainable food service.

The Benefits of Community Gardens

Beside their natural beauty and ability to attract pollinators, sustainable community gardens:

  • Offer a way for society to reconnect to the earth, release stress and gain access to clean food
  • Increase food security by providing access to living food free of chemical pesticides & fertilizers
  • Provide more nutrient dense food than from the grocery store
  • Mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon

COVID-19 VS. Commuting

The Challenges & Opportunities of Promoting Sustainable Transportation During the Pandemic

Encouraging our CSULB community to adopt sustainable transportation modes has always been a challenge, even in the best of times. As a primarily commuter campus that draws students from all over the greater LA region, more than 60% of our campus’ carbon footprint has historically come from students, faculty and staff driving to and from campus. An unintended, but welcome outcome of the pandemic’s stay-at-home order has been the sharp decline of vehicle commutes and their associated climate altering emissions. While in the short-term this may appear to move us closer to our campus goal of achieving climate neutrality, we know that these decreases in emissions are temporary and are unlikely to make a significant, long-term dent in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. 

What may not be as short-lived after the pandemic restrictions are lifted is the preference for driving alone, as opposed to carpooling or using mass transit, due to habits formed during this period of social distancing. According to an LA Times article, LA Metro ridership is roughly half what it was before the pandemic, which has left it and other transit agencies in dire need of financial relief from the federal government. 

CSULB’s Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) department, which is responsible for providing sustainable transportation programs, is also facing COVID-19 related financial hardships. PTS is one of the few self- funded departments on campus and generates 80% its revenue from parking permit sales. The department experienced a dramatic and unprecedented loss in revenue as a result of the cancellation of all campus events, lost permit sales, and the issuing of $1.7 million in pro-rated refunds for parking permits that had already been purchased for the fall semester. All of this forced the department to make difficult spending cuts across the board to stay afloat, including cutting funding that had been ear marked for sustainable transportation programs. These included cuts to the subsidies for the Long Beach Transit and LA Metro pass programs as well as an increase in on-campus electric vehicle charging rates. 

Though the pandemic has prompted these unfavorable changes, there are also signs of positive transportation-related trends that could have long-term sustainability benefits. First, hybrid classes and teleworking are very likely to continue to some degree after the pandemic, which could reduce vehicle emissions. According to the non-profit organization, People for Bikes, interest in cycling skyrocketed after the closure of gyms, with bike sales in March increasing 1,200% compared to the same month last year. This could be a hopeful sign that there will be an increase in the number of people who choose to commute by bike once campus opens.

Despite the unique challenges of this time, PTS and the Transportation Solutions Committee, a group that reports to President Conoley’s Commission on Sustainability, have been working diligently to identify strategies to support low-emissions transportation options. During October Sustainability Month, they partnered with the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project to host a webinar designed to inform campus community members about the various state rebates and federal tax credits available to those looking for a more affordable way to buy or lease an electric vehicle. And to support and encourage continued interest in biking, they hosted a second webinar to share bike commuting pro-tips and secured funding from the President’s Commission on Sustainability to repair three bike fix-it stations on campus. 

The Committee is currently exploring additional strategies for reducing commute-related emissions and bringing the university closer to achieving our carbon neutrality goal while remaining mindful of the “new normal” brought on by the pandemic.

Interested in joining the Transportation Solutions Committee? Contact sustainability@csulb.edu.

Watch & Learn

Clean Vehicle Rebate Program

  • Watch this webinar to learn if you qualify for up to $14,000 in vehicle rebates and a federal tax credit up to $7500.
  • Webinar Link & Webinar Password: 7!MaNjK2

Bike the Town

  • Watch this helpful webinar to learn how to bike around the city in a safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable way.
  • Webinar Link & Webinar Password: ^@asdn7e

Mastering Sustainable Solutions

CSULB Meets the Challenges of Our Time by Launching a New Interdisciplinary Master’s Program

 A growing number of businesses are pledging to transition their operations to carbon neutrality and zero waste. Cities, towns, and universities that don’t have an office of sustainability or sustainability manager are now the exception across the country. For the first time in history, climate change was one of the top five priorities of a major political party during the recent U.S. general election. All of these are indications that sustainability is becoming more important every day, as businesses, government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations position themselves to respond to the changing climate with effective solutions. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a nearly 12% increase in all sustainability-related job categories over the next decade.

To meet this demand for leaders who are prepared to manage the challenges of our time, CSULB recently launched the new Master of Science in Sustainability Management and Policy (MSSMP) degree program. CSULB’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, College of Liberal Arts, College of Business, and the College of Professional and International Education have joined efforts to create this advanced training program that prepares students for careers in management, entrepreneurial, and leadership positions related to sustainability.

Geared towards students and working professionals who have a background in science, engineering, and other related subjects, the two-year MSSMP degree provides technical, managerial, and problem- solving skills to guide the decision-making process in the context of sustainability. The interrelated dynamics of social, economic, environmental, business, and technical factors all play a part in sustainability practices, so the program’s balance of theory and application enables students to engage and collaborate with professionals from a wide range of industries and organizations.

“The MS in Sustainability Management and Policy is an excellent opportunity for professionals in a variety of fields, like resource management or environmental consulting, to increase their abilities to lead and manage sustainability efforts,” said biology professor and Director of the Environmental Science and Policy program, Dr. Christine Whitcraft, who also helped develop the new MSSMP degree. “The environmental and climate challenges that we are currently facing are large-scale and will require an interdisciplinary approach and background on the part of people engaged in the work. This program will prepare professionals to meet and help design solutions for the big challenges we face.” The two-year program culminates in the Integrative Capstone Experience course, which gives students the opportunity to act as consultants on sustainability management issues for a real-world client. Teams of students will engage in a 12-week internship project with organizations that are related to the students’ ongoing professional goals.

One of the most exciting aspects of the program is its Professional Advisory Board, which consists of sustainability experts in government, business, non-profits, and academia. The Advisory Board will act as mentors, providing guidance and internship opportunities for students.

With this new program, CSULB aims to create the next generation of active leaders in sustainability fields, helping them to earn their master’s degree and work towards making the world a healthier, more equitable and more resilient place. To learn more, visit the MSSMP program website.

Changing Direction on Climate Change

Empowered Voters Look to the Incoming Administration to Address the Climate Crisis

When asked during the October Why Your Vote Matters virtual event what he would say to students who may feel like their vote and their actions don’t really make a positive difference, U.S. Senator Cory Booker admitted that “the system is designed to make us feel small and to underestimate our own power.”  But he urged the students listening in on the webinar to not give up their power, reminding them to “never let our inability to do everything undermine our determination to do something.” 

In the recent election, a record number of Americans used their power, exercised their right to vote, and “did something” to move the country in a new direction. And for the first time in history, climate change was one of the top issues for voters, as reflected by questions posed during the debates as well as a Pew research study in which 49% of surveyed registered voters stated that climate change was a “very important” issue for them in deciding who to vote for. 

On January 21st, 2021 Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. For those who recognize that there isn’t a moment to spare in tackling the climate crisis, Biden’s proposed actions and policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions cannot come soon enough. 

Early in his campaign for president, Biden was criticized for what was perceived as a less than aggressive stance on the climate crisis. However, after being chosen as the Democratic Party nominee he created a climate task force including Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that went on to develop the most ambitious climate action plan in history.

Biden’s plan for fighting climate change is spelled out on his website. It is encouraging to see this national response plan to fight the climate crisis, and to know that the incoming administration will be guided by science and a vision for a clean energy future. But this vision will not become a reality if those who voted for this kind of action sit on the sidelines for the next four years. 

It is important to stay informed and stay in touch with your elected leaders to make sure that they are supporting climate action locally and nationally. You can do this by following elected officials and environmental watchdog organizations, getting involved with activism organizations in your community, or by joining (or starting) a student club to advocate for climate action.  

Because the future is what we make it. Let’s make it great.

Day One - Biden plans to use Executive Action to:

  • Reverse the previous administration’s climate policy rollbacks, including reinstating limitations on methane production and increasing fuel economy standards.
  • Require public companies to disclose all greenhouse gas emissions from their operations.
  • Permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by banning new oil and gas permits on public land, enhancing reforestation efforts, and developing renewable energy on federal land.
  • Move the Federal government procurement system toward 100% renewable energy and zero-emissions vehicles.
  • Rejoin the Paris Agreement

Nationally - Biden wants to ensure he creates investments and laws that will help the country and the environment past his presidency by:

  • Adopting a national goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 with an interim goal in 2025 
  • Implementing climate and environmental justice proposals that will invest $1.7 trillion over 10 years to expand clean energy and create green jobs
  • Establishing enforcement mechanisms to allow the EPA and Justice Department to hold polluters accountable 
  • Investing $400 billion in clean energy research and innovation over 10 years
  • Creating a new Advanced Research Projects Agency to focus on “moon shot” technologies and innovative strategies for fighting climate change

Internationally - Biden will rally other countries and lead the way to fight the climate crisis by:

  • Convening a summit to engage other world leaders in creating more ambitious environmental goals
  • Pushing for enforceable international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Specifically, making agreements with China, the world’s largest polluter, aimed at drastically reducing global greenhouse gas emissions

Acknowledgments

Graphic Design & Layout by Carlos Fernandez, Sustainability Graphic Designer

Photos & Renderings

Tatiana Mata – Cover & Contents

Sean DuFrane – Page 4

 Jennifer Hicks – Page 6-7 & 10 

Gensler – Page 7

 Marvin Meyer – Page 8

Trang Le – Page 10

WorldStrides Educational Travel and Experiences – Page 17

Authors

Lilian Ledesma, Sustainability Program Specialist

Holli Fajack, Sustainability Coordinator

Kayla Jolly, Sustainable Transportation Coordinator 

Greg Camphire, Marketing Copywriter/Web Content Specialist, CPIE 

Dr. Monica Argandoña, Faculty & Advisor for Environmental Science & Policy; Director, Sustainability Management & Policy MS