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Climate Action

Poly CAP

Over the 2015-16 academic year, Facilities partnered with the Cal Poly City and Regional Planning Department to create Cal Poly's first Climate Action Plan. A team of 27 students in the CRP 410/411 studio, led by Professors Adrienne Greve, Chris Clark, and Billy Riggs performed a comprehensive transportation survey, GHG inventory, background report, GHG dashboard and wrote the Plan entitled Poly CAP.

Download Poly CAP documents:

The greenhouse gas inventory showed that Cal Poly has already reduced its Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions below 1990 levels, five years before the policy mandate, and in spite of 100% growth in buildings and on-campus housing over that period. The inventory also showed that over 50% of Cal Poly's emissions are produced by commuting, reinforcing the need to continue investing in alternative transportation programs and on campus housing.

The Plan quantifies the potential GHG reductions from over 80 proposed policies and measures to achieve the goal of climate neutrality and resilience across all sectors: Buildings, Agriculture, Transportation, Water, Solid Waste, Campus Life, Renewable Energy, and Public Private Partnership driven development. Proposed policies include:

  • Design new buildings to exceed Title 24 by 20%, Certified LEED Gold
  • Improve energy metering, modernize existing buildings to exceed Title 24 by 15%, Certified LEED Silver
  • Increase on-site generation of renewable energy with rooftop solar PV and energy storage
  • Digest animal manure and solid waste to generate energy
  • House all freshman and sophomores on campus and prohibit vehicles
  • Expand alternative transportation programs and transition fleet to electric
  • Further reduce turf, improve irrigation efficiency, and transition to drought tolerant landscape
  • Expand Zero Waste programs for composting and recycling
  • Sequester carbon via sustainable rangeland management

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Climate Leadership Commitment

California AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, set groundbreaking goals for the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The CSU chose to go beyond state mandates in its 2014 Sustainability Policy, aiming to reduce GHG emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2040 – ten years ahead of the state goal. Greenhouse gas emissions are broken down into three categories:

  • Scope 1 – Direct on-site emissions (combustion of fossil fuel, fleet vehicles, ag ops, refrigerants)
  • Scope 2 – Emissions from purchased utilities (electricity, water)
  • Scope 3 – Emissions not under direct control (commuting, business travel, waste water, solid waste)

Under CSU Policy, campuses are responsible to quantify and reduce their Scope 1 and 2 emissions to reach the 2020 and 2040 goals. Campuses that have signed the Second Nature Climate Leadership Commitment are also responsible to reduce Scope 3 emissions as part of Climate Action Plans to achieve neutrality as soon as possible. For Earth Day of 2016, President Armstrong made Cal Poly a Charter Signatory to the Climate Leadership Commitment, establishing a goal for Cal Poly to achieve net zero emissions from all sources by 2050.

The Climate Commitment also requires Cal Poly collaborate with local government to achieve Climate Resilience – preparing not only buildings, grounds and infrastructure, but programs and support services to withstand the increasing effects of climate change, such as:

  • Sea level rise, extended drought, fire, flood, and extreme temperatures
  • Loss of biodiversity, invasive species, and infectious disease
  • Disruption of water and energy supply, overloading of community and emergency services

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Central Coast Climate Collaborative

In order to better coordinate Cal Poly's CAP with local and regional plans to address climate resilience, Cal Poly and the SLO County Air Pollution Control District are facilitating creation of the emerging Central Coast Climate Collaborative (CCCC) representing Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties. This will establish the sixth such regional climate collaborative in California, and provides an opportunity to connect faculty and students on six campuses of the UC and CSU with their regional Climate Action Planners for hands on real world problem solving in the communities they serve.

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