There are only two years left to reach climate targets set in California by a 2005 executive order from former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. At Cal State Fullerton, sustainability remains an issue that needs definitive strategies and solutions according to experts on campus.
Executive Order S-3-05 established large reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Its explicit 2020 goal is to reduce emissions back to levels seen in 1990, and achieve an 80 percent reduction by 2050.
In 2014, the Cal State University system adopted a sustainability policy committing itself to an 80 percent decrease by 2040.
Between 1990 and 2008, CSUF saw only a 1,622 metric ton increase in its emitted carbon dioxide, according to a 2008 Climate Action Plan presentation.
“(The low carbon increase is happening) even with an increase in square footage and population, which means that our overall energy usage per square foot and per person is going down,” said Megan Moscol, Sustainability Programs manager.
In order to meet the executive order target by 2020, it is estimated that the university will need to reduce its emissions by over 11,000 metric tons, according to the 2008 report.
“The recommendation to reach the 2040 goal is for everyone to move away from natural gas combustion on campus,” Moscol said.
Since 2010, CSUF has been generating energy with a trigeneration plant, a 4.6 megawatt turbine that burns natural gas, making it a stationary emitter, Moscol said.
“Now we are shifting back to essentially an all-electric plant but powered with renewables,” Moscol said.
CSUF breaks down its emissions into three categories: on-campus, purchased electricity and mobile transportation. Faculty and student commuting make up a majority of campus emissions, following behind that is purchased electricity and on-campus output.
To reduce mobile emissions, Moscol encourages students to use electric vehicles and alternative transportation. CSUF Sustainability Programs plans to have 100 electric vehicle charging stations installed on campus by 2020.
John Bock, professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Sustainability, said students have an opportunity to make a big impact on the campus’ carbon footprint.
“If we can come up with really good solutions, then it really needs to come from the student body to integrate our campus with mass transit or more bike options. To use cars less, that would be one of the biggest things we could do,” Bock said.
The Center for Sustainability is primarily focused on educational outreach coordinated through campus events and student groups, Bock said. CSUF is a part of an ongoing statewide process to establish sustainability as a minor program.
Moscol said that this semester, Facilities Operations and Management is focused on data collection, balancing campus energy use between solar and natural gas, and the installation of 12 more water bottle filling stations between now and the end of 2018.
CSUF has already completed sustainability projects, including the installment of drought-resistant plants, a four megawatt solar power system, multiple electric vehicle charging stations, water bottle refill stations, waste tracking technology and LED lights.
Both Moscol and Bock said that students have a large influence on campus discourse and have the power to make sustainability a priority at CSUF.
“The student voice is a loud voice, and that really needs to be heard,” Bock said.