How Much Do Cal Poly Students Know about Sustainability? 2023 Survey Produces Initial Results

October 2023

This year, sustainability faculty and staff relaunched a new and improved Sustainability Literacy Assessment for students to better understand what the student population knows, believes, and values regarding sustainability. A survey of this type was first administered to members of the campus in 2018, and key stakeholders worked meticulously to update the survey so that they might more comprehensively learn about how to meet students’ wants and needs through sustainability events, curriculum, research, and more. The preliminary results are in! Learn more at the link below.

The Green Initiative Fund

June 2023

The Green Initiative Fund IRA provides funding for students to work on an annual sustainability-related project. Students develop cutting edge ideas on how to reduce waste, improve building efficiency, and conserve water all while prioritizing diversity and social justice across campus. The Green Initiative Fund assists students in identifying budgets and timelines, as well as embodying sustainability leadership skills to promote a greener campus.

Sustainable Measures Enchance Commencement Experience

June 2023

Cal Poly has made several subtle changes to the commencement ceremonies on June 17-18 to lessen the environmental impact of the June celebration but not the joy and certainly not the cheers. The more than 5,000 graduation candidates will receive water in aluminum cans instead of single-use plastic water bottles. And the estimated 50,000 spectators will drink from eco-friendly paper cups. There are fewer printed programs — each grad will recieve two and a QR code to access a pdf of the document. Other steps are being introduced by the sustainability team as the university strives to raise awareness about environmental responsibility and encourage other institutions to follow suit.

Celebrating the Remarkable Achievements and Retirement of Dennis Elliot

June 2023

After more than four decades of dedicated service at Cal Poly, Dennis Elliot, the executive director of Energy and Infrastructure Planning, will be retiring in June. Throughout his career, Dennis has been a driving force behind Cal Poly's sustainability initiatives, leaving a lasting impact on the university and its community.

As Elliot prepares to retire the Cal Poly community applauds his outstanding contributions. His leadership has earned numerous awards for Cal Poly Sustainability, and his dedication has fostered a culture of sustainability on campus. To carry on Elliot’s legacy, the recently established Dennis Elliot Sustainability Award will honor individuals who demonstrate excellence in sustainable facilities management. His legacy at Cal Poly will continue to inspire future generations, driving them towards a more environmentally conscious world.

2023 Cal Poly Sustainability Award Winners Announced

May 2023

The Cal Poly Sustainability Awards honor members of the Cal Poly community who have exhibited commitment to the value of campus sustainability goals. Winners for the 2023 awards are pictured here with President Armstrong (pictured from left to right):

  • Dr. Erin Pearse, Sustainability Faculty Fellow
  • Emily Zhu on behalf of Sustainable Fashion Club, Sustainable Organization
  • Kalea Conrad (and Allie Mortensen, not pictured), Sustainable Student
  • Marlene Cramer, Sustainable Staff Member
  • Niles Wertz, Honorable Mention for Sustainable Student.
  • New Electric Vans Will Drive Us Closer to Sustainability Goals

    May 2023

    Facilities Management and Development has made a significant investment in sustainability with the purchase of nine fully electric Ford E-Transit vans for facilities workers to use in maintaining buildings on campus. The vans were purchased in April and will replace inefficient gasoline-powered trucks from the 1990s.

    The cost of each van is approximately $70,000 after outfitting each with the necessary racks and equipment specific for facilities workers to perform their jobs. While an electric van is more expensive than a comparable gasoline powered van to purchase, the savings in fuel cost and especially maintenance is expected to provide significant long-term savings to facilities. These new vans are more versatile and practical than the current small electric trucks seen around campus. For example, they can be driven off-campus to perform maintenance at the Cal Poly Pier or off campus ranches. The investment in electric vans demonstrates Cal Poly’s commitment to reducing its campus carbon footprint. Keep an eye out for these electric vans to hit the road this month!

    The CSU's Path to Carbon Neutrality

    April 2023

    Determined to combat climate change and promote sustainability, the CSU progresses toward the goal of being carbon neutral by 2045. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is wrapping up the completion of its CAP update, reviewing its GHG inventory, and using the Climate and Energy Scenario Analysis (CESA) tool created by UC Santa Cruz to guide how they can make the biggest impact in emission reductions for the lowest cost. Read more about what Cal Poly and the other CSUs are doing below.

    Get Ready for Earth Week!

    March 2023

    From April 17 to 21, Cal Poly Green Campus will be host and collaborate with club and campus partners to bring you exciting Earth Week events. Test your knowledge at Eco-Trivia night, or learn about sustainable job paths at the Green Career Panel! Other events include: Sustainability Charette, Swap n Shop, and Make Waves Film Festival! More details and events to come.

    Volunteers Needed for Cal Poly Thrift

    March 2023

    Cal Poly Thrift, a University Housing program, aims to reduce waste by collecting lightly used items from residence halls during move-out and sell them at low-cost during move-in the following year. The objective of the program is to disrupt the cycle of purchasing new items only to dispose of them a year later.

    Volunteers are wanted to help collect, sort, clean, and store these items. Help is needed from June 12-22.

    The Zero Waste Ambassadors are back!

    February 2023

    The Zero Waste Ambassadors are a team of students with the goal of educating the campus community about sustainable waste disposal. This program helps manage the waste stream at select Cal Poly events to divert waste from landfill. If you are interested in reducing waste on campus, sign up to be a Zero Waste Ambassador at the Campus Showcase during Open House on April 15 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

    Now Accepting Nominations for 2023 Sustainability Awards!

    February 2023

    The Cal Poly Sustainability Awards are a chance to recognize individuals and organizations within the Cal Poly community who have shown a strong commitment to sustainability. Faculty, staff, students, and campus organizations are eligible to receive the award. Individual recipients will receive a $500 award and a recognized group will receive a $1,000 award. Submit your nominations by March 17 at 5pm.

    For Love Of Water Challenge

    February 2023

    Join the FLOW (For Love of Water) Challenge and compete against your fellow first-year learning communities to save water. This year's water conservation challenge will run from Feb. 17 to March 10. Now is the time for you and your fellow residents to start strategizing on how to reduce your water consumption. The residence hall that conserves the most water will be rewarded with a free ice cream social from SLO Mama Sweets!

    'Shut the Sash' Campaign Raises Awareness to Help Students, Faculty and Staff Save Energy

    February 2023

    Cal Poly Green Campus created the Shut the Sash campaign to encourage students who work with fume hoods during chemistry labs to close the sash when not in use. The goal is to effectively reduce the energy consumed in the Baker Science building, while also making the building more comfortable.When fume hoods are left open exhaust fans work harder and use more energy to maintain a safe lab environment. When the fume hood sashes are closed when students and faculty are not actively working under the fume, the exhaust fans slow down and a significant amount of energy can be saved. Cal Poly Green Campus looks forward to expanding this campaign to other lab buildings on campus later this year.

    Climate Anxiety Discussion Group

    February 2023

    Does climate change make you feel stressed, upset, or full of existential dread? As part of her senior project, Elliana Blumenfeld, a fourth-year student studying Communication & Environmental Science, along with Cal Poly Counseling Services and the Energy, Utilities & Sustainability team, is piloting a climate anxiety discussion group for students. The purpose is to have open discussions about climate anxiety, and how it can make it difficult to find balance in life. These discussions aim to help students feel less alone and a bit more hopeful. This is a ‘cameras on’ event and participation is encouraged!

    Cal Poly Named a 2022 AASHE Sustainability Award Winner

    January 2023

    In 2022, AASHE announced 12 winners from 430 entries in five categories. The CSU entry received the coveted Campus Sustainability Achievement Award. Entries were judged on overall impact, innovation, stakeholder involvement, clarity and other criteria specific to each category. Cal Poly was honored for its collaborative effort with five other CSU campuses — Chico, Humboldt, Monterey Bay, San Marcos and Stanislaus — to establish the CSU Faculty Learning Community in Teaching Climate Change and Resilience.

    CSU Single-Use Plastic Policy

    January 2023

    In December 2018, the CSU adopted a policy calling for the elimination of single-use plastics. As of Jan. 1, 2023, the policy is now in full effect. Notably, single-use plastic water bottles are now no longer for sale on campus. For more details and suggested alternatives, visit our FAQ page.

    Introducing Sustainable Living Edu

    January 2023

    Cal Poly is launching its first-ever sustainability training, called Sustainable Living Edu. It will allow students, staff, and faculty to explore several critical environmental topics including overconsumption, fossil fuels, water, transportation, and waste management. The training will take about 30 minutes to complete.

    • For Students (can only be accessed via computer, cannot be accessed via mobile device)
    • For Employees (can be accessed via mobile device or computer)

    Thank you for taking the time to improve Cal Poly's environmental literacy with us.

    Vista Grande Express Offers Reusable Food Containers

    January 2023

    Vista Grande Express, a restaurant in the Vista Grande dining complex, has begun using reusable containers as of October 2022, sparing over 500,000 single-use containers from the waste stream each year, according to Campus Dining.

    “The more times the container is reused, the more sustainable it becomes,” Campus Dining wrote on their website. “The container needs to be reused as little as three times to beat the environmental impact of a single-use container!" Head to Vista Grande Express and try it out today.

    Transportation Survey Winner Announced!

    January 2023

    The winners have been announced for the Spring 2022 Transportation Survey raffle. The first-place winner, Yvonne Lynch, won a RadCity 4 Electric Commuter Bike! Winners were randomly selected from those who submitted responses to last spring's transportation survey. Keep your eye out for future surveys for a chance to win!

    New LEEDership at TAPS

    January 2023

    Cal Poly's Director of Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS), Marlene Cramer, recently earned her LEED® Green Associate™ certification. Joining the 14 other LEED® Green Associate™ Certified employees at Cal Poly, Marlene now has the expertise to continue upholding sustainability goals within TAPS. Read about her journey to certification.

    Goodbye, Sustainability Month!

    November 2022

    This year’s Sustainability Month has ended, meaning it’s the perfect time to reflect on all the exciting progress and engagement that went on this October. In the past several weeks, over a dozen events were held by a variety of different sustainability organizations on campus – engaging over 800 students, staff, and faculty in beach cleanups, a clothing swap, club fairs, and the Climate Solutions Now conference hosted by Cal Poly. Thank you to all who participated and we'll see you next year!

    Cal Poly Green Campus expands

    November 2022

    Thanks to the College Corps Fellowship, the Cal Poly Green Campus team is expanding to tackle a variety of sustainability projects spanning across campus and the SLO community.Historically, Green Campus has focused on sustainability awareness and education through outreach and events. With the College Corps Fellowship, Green Campus will take on projects to address sustainability in dining, transportation, building efficiency and drought response. They will also explore programs for waste reduction and diversion, sustainability education and student involvement.

    13 Cal Poly Staff Members earn their LEED GA Accreditation

    October 2022

    Cal Poly is going to keep implementing more green building practices on campus in the coming decades in order to reach sustainability goals, so it is only appropriate to have staff members trained on this topic. Based on an AASHE STARS gap analysis, it was determined that there is room for improvement when it comes to educating our employees on sustainability. Kori Nielsen, the former Sustainability Associate, brought in Lorne Mlotek, from Leadinggreen to educate staff members on green building practices as it pertains to the rating system, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The ultimate goal was for the staff members to earn their LEED GA, and after months of studying, over a dozen staff members earned their accreditation!

    Cal Poly has historically been Lorne’s best attended school in the country for LEED GA trainings. He has prepared over 8,000 people for their LEED Green Associate and Accredited Professional exams, achieving a very high passing rate, and is personally vetted by the USGBC and recognized as an esteemed USGBC faculty for his past work and current training courses. His LEED GA trainings are broken up by the following topics: Sustainability in the 21st Century, Introduction to LEED, Location and Transportation, Sustainable sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation and Design and Regional Priority, Materials Overview, Exam registration and Exam-Writing Tips & Tricks.

    “This is a huge win for the Cal Poly campus, we went from having only 2 LEED trained professionals on campus to now having 13. This is a great sign for the future of our green building goals!” states Sustainability Coordinator, Kylee Singh.

    2022 Sustainability Champions

    May 2022

    The Cal Poly Sustainability Awards celebrate members of the Cal Poly community who have exhibited commitment to the value of our sustainability imperatives. The awards are an opportunity to recognize individual members from the faculty, staff, and student communities as well as contributions from a recognized campus organization. Winners included Professor Yiwen Chui (NRES faculty), Morgan Bing (Animal Science ASC, staff), Lauren Londono (FSN student), and Eco Reps (student organization). Honorable mentions included Professor Jonathan Reich (Architecture), Professor Erin Pearse (Mathematics), Hope Springer (student), and Surfrider Club (organization). All are pictured above - so if you see any of these sustainability champs around campus, be sure to congratulate them for all their hard work!

    Campus Departments Receive Green Office Certification

    May 2022

    The Cal Poly Green Office Certification (GOC) Program is designed to engage students, staff, and faculty in implementing sustainable practices in their workplace. GOC focuses on actions that individuals can practice (such as proper recycling, green procurement, sustainable commuting, water conservation, etc.) rather than infrastructure changes. By participating in the GOC, campus departments can educate and engage their teams, reduce Cal Poly's environmental footprint, save the university money, and meet campus sustainability goals. In the first month since launching, Cal Poly’s SEI Climate Corp Sustainability Associate, Kori Nielsen has certified four offices: Animal Sciences (Bronze), Cal Poly Corporation General Administration (Gold), Civil Rights and Compliance (Gold), and the School of Education (Gold).

    Campus Decreases Recycling Contamination With Help from Grant

    March 2022

    Cal Poly has decreased recycling contamination on campus by 15 percent thanks to CalRecycle state grant funds. "We are very excited to see the needle move in a positive direction to reduce waste on campus," said Anastasia Nicole, CalRecycle grant lead and Cal Poly's Zero Waste Coordinator for Facilities Management and Development.

    Savings at Spanos: Grass is Replaced with Turf

    February 2022

    If you’ve been by Spanos Stadium this quarter, you’ve likely seen a lot of brown as the university works to save a lot of green. On Jan. 3, construction started on a $3.2 million retrofit project to remove 84,000 square feet of grass and replace it with new water and time saving turf from FieldTurf. This new turf is expected to last 15 years and will save an estimated 2.8 million gallons of water per year and countless hours of landscape maintenance. This project is funded by donor and university funds and aims to be completed in time for the June 2022 commencement.

    Cal Poly Ranks Third in CSU for Sustainability Efforts

    November 2019
    STARS gold badge

    The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, or STARS, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education — from academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration to innovation and leadership efforts. “The STARS Gold Rating reinforces Cal Poly’s commitment to sustainability while fostering additional Learn by Doing opportunities for students in all six of our colleges,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “This rating also helps propel us toward a major long-term campus goal of trimming our carbon footprint and transforming Cal Poly into a net zero campus by 2050.”

    Cal Poly Wins Three Statewide Awards for Sustainability Efforts

    September 2019

    Three Cal Poly Administration and Finance departments have recently been recognized for their innovative sustainability practices, bringing in a total of three awards from two different statewide organizations. On July 11, Cal Poly Facilities Energy, Utilities, and Sustainability, and Strategic Business Services won a best practice award for their collaborative effort on the 4.5-megawatt Gold Tree Solar Farm at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC). More recently Cal Poly Facilities Energy, Utilities, and Sustainability, and Transportation and Parking Services, were both recognized during the California Higher Education Collaborative Conference at the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center. Cal Poly left the Oct. 1-3 conference with two sustainability awards, one for the solar farm, and another for implementation of assigned parking zones for commuter students to reduce hunting for parking spaces and resultant traffic congestion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.