By Mireya Martinez
Cal Poly Pomona has been recognized once again for its commitment to sustainability.
For the sixth year in a row, CPP has appeared on the Princeton Review’s 2015 “Guide to 353 Green Colleges.” This year the university is at No. 30 on the list.
“To me, what the number shows is that Cal Poly has a consistency of trying to be very sustainable, trying to make their students aware of their sustainability efforts,” said DeWayne Hurst, CPP’s manager of land use planning, development and sustainability.
CPP was the only California State University campus to make the Top 50. CPP also beat out many public and private universities across the country, including Oberlin College, University of Texas at Austin and Northeastern University.
In rating campuses, the Princeton Review considered many factors that ranged from the presence of an environmental studies major, minor or concentration and waste-diversion rates to food sources and mass transit programs.
Through the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, which was established in 1994, CPP has been able to offer a minor and a Master of Science program in regenerative studies.
“As a 16-acre living laboratory with a broad mission [‘to advance our understanding of environmentally sustainable living through education, research, demonstration and outreach’] we have a very broad impact,” said Deborah Scheider, the Lyle Center’s project coordinator, via email. “Our vision is to be recognized for our collective impact toward a sustainable future.”
According to student Ariel Marsh, a second-year member of the interdisciplinary graduate program, Cal Poly Pomona already does a lot in terms of sustainability. But students are often not aware of the campus’ efforts.
“It’s one thing if the administration really values [sustainability], but it’s going to be about how this translates to students on campus and how willing they are to adopt this value,” said Marsh.
Amongst the initiatives of the Lyle Center have been the efforts to push Bronco Athletics to adopt a zero waste program at its events, which was designed using the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of zero waste. Last year, the program was implemented in 22 men’s and women’s basketball games.
“We are on track to expand the zero waste program to all home athletic events on campus,” said Marsh. “Longer term, I would like to see it expand to all [Associated Students, Inc.] on-campus events, so we can see the Hot Dog Caper going zero waste and Midnight Madness and First Fridays. The more we can do to plan strategically, it will be better for everyone in the long run.”
Another sustainability practice CPP employs is reclaimed water, used on campus since 1965. For food sourcing, Foundation Dining Services has launched the “Green Campaign,” which partners with California Grown and promotes recycling. Converting 400 tons of landscape trimmings and green waste into mulch, which further conserves water, is another way in which the campus’s waste output has been curved.
“We have to be more conscious about the impact that we have socially and environmentally,” said Marsh.
“This is a world that we want to preserve for the next few generations we want to preserve it for our grand children and we want to leave it a better place than we found it.”
While CPP continues to move towards its 2030 climate neutrality goal, its biggest hurdle continues to be transportation.
“The one area where we are significantly lagging is in transportation,” said Hurst, who joined CPP in April. “The thing there is that we are a commuter campus.”
Most of CPP’s green house gas emission derives from daily student, staff and faculty commuting. However, Parking and Transportation Services offers the Bronco Shuttle for getting around campus, and the Rideshare Office also promotes programs. But according to Hurst, there is still a long way to go.
The campus fleet of vehicles has also been progressively converted into electric cars and trucks. Now, over a third of the original fleet is electric.
Facilities Management is also switching from diesel engines in maintenance vehicles to biodiesel, which is a clean burning alternative to petroleum.
But with every environmental stride comes a cost. The cost, which can often be supplemented by seeking outside partnerships, ultimately rests on the shoulders of students. Both Marsh and Hurst agree that it is only by involving students that CPP will be able to continue on its path of environmental consciousness.
“This institution is here first and foremost for the students,” said Hurst.
“It’s here to develop leadership and independent thinking students. In order to do that you have to involve the students in what is important, and sustainability is one of the most important things we are facing going forward.”
Melina Orantes / The Poly Poly
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