CSUN Institute for Sustainability
Issue No. 26     |    December 19, 2016
CSUN in Top 10 on AASHE's Sustainable Campus Index

STARS Top 10 performersThe Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) released the 2016 Sustainable Campus Index, a publication that recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 areas as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). The Index also highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives from institutions that submitted STARS reports. CSUN placed 9th for Overall Top Performers for Master's Institutions. CSU Sacramento also made the top 10.

The institutions and initiatives featured in this year's Sustainable Campus Index showcase the great work that higher education institutions are doing to lead the national sustainability movement. CSUN's water conservation efforts are highlighted in the SCI 2016 Photo Gallery which includes a comprehensive list of all images submitted by campuses nationally.

Sustainability Minors Take on Community Projects
Students installing solar panelsStudents in Sustainability 401, an applied project-based course, partner with community organizations or pursue their own sustainability projects. This semester, students completed a variety of independent projects including: incorporating sustainability curriculum into local middle school classrooms, planting trees and installing drip irrigation at an elementary school, starting a cricket/insect-based food truck to provide a sustainable protein food source, creating a sustainable beehive collective, making cloth menstrual pads, starting a local urban farming co-op, and lobbying to local city council districts about sustainability issues.

Students were active in the community as well. A few students partnered with LADWP and consulted with a local business, encouraging a business owner to green their operations and take advantage of DWP’s commercial rebates. Others worked with Grid Alternatives to recruit income-qualified families to receive free rooftop solar. These students put in a collective 100 hours, finding creative ways to convey to potential clients the benefits, overcome misconceptions, and convey that it really is free!  After canvassing qualified neighborhoods, they completed an actual solar installation for a homeowner. Another group of students partnered with Greywater Corps to install two community greywater systems at local homes: one laundry-to-landscape system and one branch drain system for bathroom showers/sinks.

Students installing greywater systemSUST 401 is the capstone course for the sustainability minor and gives students a deeper understanding of a wide variety of sustainability topics through hands-on learning.  Visit our website for more information on sustainability curriculum options and a full list of classes required for the minor.

If you are interested in Sustainability, there are a few spots available in Sust 300 and 310 next semester! Both of these classes qualify for upper division GE credit!
Staff Spotlight: Austin Eriksson

Austin ErikssonAustin Eriksson received a degree in Environmental Science and Resource Management from CSU Channel Islands. While in school, was curious about what the campus was doing to advance their sustainability efforts and wanted to get involved. He set up a meeting with the Assistant Vice President of Facilities to talk about this and was offered a student assistant position to help with campus sustainability efforts.

Eriksson is now the Sustainability Program Manager at CSUN and manages many projects, including implementing the Campus Sustainability Plan, Climate Action Plan, ensuring that campus energy, water, and waste goals are met, and engaging the campus in achieving these goals. He has been instrumental in setting up the "Brown is the New Green" campaign, removing turf in various areas around campus and installing AquaCents, an eco-friendly hydrogel that is injected in existing turf to decrease water use by 50-70%. These programs have all been extremely successful and he has even received feedback that the renovated areas look better than they did when more water was used! 

His main focus for the upcoming year is increasing the amount of solar used to power the campus. Currently, solar only accounts for about 1-2% of our energy generation, but he hopes to increase that to 6-8% within the next year, helping work toward the campus' goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels by 2020 and carbon neutrality by 2040. He encourages everyone to get involved with sustainability efforts on campus by reporting water leaks or excess electricity waste to PPM, volunteering with the Institute for Sustainability, or joining a Sustainability Working Group.
'Tis the Season to be Sustainable

Sustainable Christmas wrappingThe holiday season is often associated with excess. With a little effort and imagination, we can reduce the environmental impact of the holidays and keep spending and waste to a minimum! Here are some ideas for a sustainable holiday season.

Do It Yourself: Give gifts that are personal and unique! It is easier than you think to make your own natural beauty or cleaning products, ready-to-make mason jar recipes, clothing items, and fun accessories. Many ideas can be found here. Baked goods are also always appreciated!

Gift services or experiences: Think about giving a gift certificate for a massage, music lessons, childcare, or dog walks. Make memories with tickets to a museum, zoo, concert, ice-rink, rock-climbing memberships, cooking classes, or horseback riding lessons.

Donate to a charity or foundation:  There are many organizations that provide gift-giving opportunities - you can make monetary donations in the recipient's name, have a tree planted in their honor, sponsor an animal at a local wildlife sanctuary or conservation organization, or help a family in need.

Green your meals: Use reusable dinnerware and napkins and incorporate vegetarian dishes into your menu. A lot of food is wasted during the holidays so be realistic about how much food you'll need when shopping for meals. Approximately 40% of food in the US goes to waste. If you have unwanted leftovers, send them home with your guests.

Other ways to make your holiday more sustainable include: bring your own bag when shopping, shop local, make homemade cards, don’t buy new, purchase sustainable gifts, use newspaper or other alternative gift wrap, reuse and recycle packing materials, use LED lights to decorate, buy gifts that don't require batteries, and recycle your Christmas tree. Happy holidays from the Institute!

Creative Social Media Internship

The Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) is a non-profit network of students working toward zero waste on college campuses. They are seeking a student with a knack for visual messaging and an interest in building social media campaigns. This is a great way to earn credit through independent study while contributing to PLAN’s work toward a world without waste. Current undergraduate students or recent graduates with a strong interest in grassroots environmental action, social entrepreneurship, and student leadership for positive social change are eligible. 

The internship is a five hour per week commitment February 1st – May 30th, and is a satellite position - meaning you can work from anywhere! Apply by January 15. More information can be found here.


Young Leaders in Climate Change Internship

Upper-level undergraduate, graduate students and recent grads are invited to apply to the 2017 Young Leaders in Climate Change (YLCC) Initiative! 

The YLCC is a paid summer internship to work in national parks for approximately 12 weeks on projects in climate change research, interpretation, park operations, policy development, and other fields. Students who excel in their internships and complete their degree requirements are eligible to be hired without competition into NPS, FWS or BLM jobs for which they are qualified!  Internship projects, eligibility information, and application instructions can be found at

The application deadline is January 19.


Call for Proposals

The 2017 AASHE Conference & Expo is the largest event in North America to exchange effective models, policies, research, collaborations and transformative actions that advance sustainability in higher education and surrounding communities.

As a presenter, your contributions will be shared and discussed during the conference. This is a great opportunity for your campus and your own professional development.  All accepted presenters will receive a discount on full conference registration. 

The conference is Oct. 15 - 18 in San Antonio, TX. The deadline to submit a proposal is February 13.

LADWP StudentsFollow us on Social Media!
Follow the Institute for Sustainability on your favorite social media outlets to stay up-to-date with the latest sustainability news, events, and stories. Connect with @sustainCSUN on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.

Post something sustainable happening on campus or in the community, tag us @sustainCSUN and use #sustainCSUN and we can share your post!
Mailing address:
Institute for Sustainability
18111 Nordhoff Street
Santa Susana Hall 116
Northridge, CA 91330-8444

Phone: (818) 677-7710
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