Cal Poly Sustainability
"Climate Change poses challenges to society unseen in human history. We are at a crossroads in which the disciplines of business, politics, public policy and technology must collaborate to drive innovation and implement real solutions. As a comprehensive polytechnic university, Cal Poly is uniquely positioned to educate and inspire the next generation of leaders, innovators and decision makers that will confront this challenge. That is why I chose to commit Cal Poly to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and integrate these efforts into curriculum, research and student experience through Learn by Doing. Our children and grandchildren deserve no less."
- President Jeffrey D, Armstrong
Sustainability in Facilities and Higher Education
Sustainability has been a driving force in higher education facilities management for decades, arising from the need to reduce operating costs and conserve limited natural resources. Since 2006, Cal Poly has been tracking key performance indicators to measure progress toward campus and CSU goals for the management of energy, water, waste, greenhouse gas, transportation programs, and design and construction of buildings.
In higher education today, as well as in local, state, and federal government, the sustainability conversationhas evolved to address the emergent realities of climate change. Energy, water, waste, transportation, and green building programs fall under the broader umbrella of Climate Action Planning – a comprehensive methodology to quantify, assess, and manage all sources of greenhouse gas emissions toward the ultimate goal of climate neutrality. In addition to these mitigation efforts, successful climate action planning incorporates climate adaptation and climate resilience – strategies to prepare both environmental and socio-political systems to withstand the inevitable impacts of climate change.
An emerging space for sustainability professionals is the overlap between environmental protection and climate change work with the broader topics of social justice, social equity, diversity, inclusivity, and public health. It is well established that the negative effects of resource extraction, power generation, industrial activity, and waste disposal disproportionately impact disadvantaged and underrepresented peoples and communities. The Energy, Utilities, and Sustainability Department within Facilities Management and Development is actively engaging these stakeholders on campus to identify opportunities for collaboration. Cal Poly’s sustainability indicators will continue to evolve to represent this ever changing landscape.