Sustainability is becoming part of the fabric of life at USC thanks to the efforts of faculty, students and staff. Today, USC campuses are implementing a host of new initiatives designed to conserve resources, promote alternative use and adopt new technologies to reduce waste.
A new initiative launched last fall created the USC Operations Sustainability Committee, a team of student, faculty and staff representatives charged with creating an overview of sustainability at USC and identifying new opportunities.
The committee recently completed its progress report, with information and recommendations for every facet of sustainability on campus, including such key topics as energy and water management, transportation, hospitality, building construction, purchasing and academics.
For the complete report, visit http://capsnet.usc.edu/EHS/CampusSustainability.cfm
Among dozens of concrete steps being taken, the report finds that:
� USC’s curriculum includes a variety of course offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels that intrinsically promote sustainability. In addition, a group of faculty led by Jennifer Wolch, USC College professor of geography and director of the USC Center for Sustainable Cities, is seeking to add upper-division and graduate sustainability courses while threading sustainability throughout the academic enterprise.
� Sustainability guidelines are included in the new draft UPC Master Plan (https://www.usc.edu/community/upcmasterplan) and designs of three new building projects are earmarked to meet an environmental certification standard known as LEED silver certification.
� The university continues to invest in energy efficiency improvement projects. In the past 10 years, more than $20 million has been invested to build and implement energy efficient systems. As part of that effort, USC has centralized the chilled water plant for cooling more than 30 buildings in a thermal energy storage tank beneath Cromwell Field. Meanwhile, high-efficiency campus lighting retrofits are underway as well as control system upgrades. Trojan Bookstores is retrofitting all lighting fixtures in its central building.
� About 80 percent of the grassy areas on the UPC campus are watered by an irrigation control system that automatically monitors daily evapo-transpiration and adjusts watering accordingly. Low-flow shower heads and water-conserving toilets are in place in most campus housing.
� Campus recycling programs include paper, plastic, glass, light bulb, batteries, toner cartridges, construction debris and e-waste managers. Campus Hospitality currently utilizes materials that are made with recycled materials or are reusable. Every month, on average, 1.04 tons of aluminum cans, 16.81 tons of cardboard and 1.68 tons of glass/plastic are recycled by the department. The bookstores recycle emergency lighting batteries, lighting ballasts, printer ink cartridges, computer monitors and book boxes.
� USC recently joined the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, an organization of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada that are working to create a sustainable future.
� Trojan Housing only purchases furniture from manufacturers that are committed to limiting environmental impact by their choices in materials, transportation and product reuse. Campus purchasing services has implemented the use of recycled content and soy-based ink in letterhead and business cards, and uses Forestry Stewardship Council certified printers. Meanwhile, managers and researchers are seeking less toxic substitutes for everything from cleaning supplies to chemical experiments.
� More than 6,000 carpool permits have been issued to USC drivers. In addition, almost 2,000 individuals participate in vanpools, and the Trojan Transportation department currently subsidizes more than 26,000 public transportation passes for Trojan Family members. A total of 12 Zipcars are available for use on the University Park and Health Science campuses; these cars provide a convenient rental alternative for those who don’t want to own a vehicle.
� USC was among the first American universities to fully implement standards for licensees and their subcontractors and requires social responsibility audits from all vendors who wish to become licensed with USC to sell products.
“Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ is one widely accepted definition of sustainability,” said Robert Myrtle, a safety technician with the USC department of Environmental Health and Safety who staffed the Operations Sustainability Committee effort. “With help from everyone on campus and with proper implementation of sustainable initiatives, USC will arrive at a balance between environmental preservation, social justice and economic viability.”
Max Slavkin, the undergraduate student government vice president who served on the committee, said, “This past year has been an exciting and inspiring time for advocates of sustainability at USC. We’ve not only organized a broad coalition of students, faculty and staff, but as a university, we’ve turned that passion into tangible results and real momentum.
“USC is discovering how its environmental, financial and moral obligations are inextricably intertwined and with our current collaborative efforts, we’re getting closer every day to realizing our full potential in all of those areas.”