A Publication for the faculty, staff, administrators and friends of California State University, Chico
October 7, 2004 Volume 35/Number 2

Jim Pushnik, left, presented Roger Lederer with a plaque to honor his service as the first Rawlins Chair in 2002–2003 at the environmental mixer on Sept. 16..


What Does It Mean to Make CSU, Chico a Green Campus?

We were again pleased and proud to learn that California State University, Chico remains ranked third among master’s-level public universities in the western United States based on the 2005 edition of America’s Best Colleges from U.S. News & World Report. The magazine annually ranks schools based on 15 separate criteria, including assessments by peer institutions, class size, and selectivity. This recognition attests to our faculty’s and administration’s commitment to providing the best quality education available.

Believing in this commitment, we are challenging the campus to assume leadership in achieving campus environmental sustainability. To this end, we are acting on advice shared by David Orr, a Rawlins Professorship distinguished invited lecturer, during his visit two years ago. He posited that college rankings should be “based on whether or not the institution and its graduates move the world in a more sustainable direction.” Many at CSU, Chico want to make this a “green campus.” What does that mean, and what criteria would we use to tell if we were moving in the right direction?

Using the adage that “what gets measured, gets done,” we are embarking on a campus sustainability assessment. The goal is to quantify items ranging from energy use to waste production to transportation. We are assessing what we buy, what we build, and if these acquisitions are moving toward or away from sustainability. Further, we are asking the same questions about what we teach and how we govern.

The University has contracted Good Company, an assessment firm from Oregon, to help us with the project. They will be working with faculty, students, and staff to collect data on a different set of criteria, 15 indicators of sustainability. (See www.goodcompany.com/indicators.) Good Company will then compare our figures with best practices from universities across the nation. Their findings will provide insights into how we are doing on indoor air quality, for example, and include recommendations for how we can improve.

While other colleges have performed environmental assessments, CSU, Chico is the first in the nation to do so as a service learning project. We have asked Good Company to include students and faculty in the process so we can learn as we go. Students in the environmental studies program are in the process of interviewing staff on the operations of the campus. In the spring we are asking facilities staff to lecture in the environmental literacy seminar about “how the University works.” We are projecting to release our sustainability assessment in late April.

Plan B, the Book in Common for this year, has effectively started campuswide dialogues. We are planning a series of forums around issues raised in Plan B, and we are excited to announce that the book’s author, Lester Brown, will be on campus Nov. 16. He will speak at 7 pm in Laxson Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Brown will also meet with faculty and staff at 4 pm. If you are interested, please contact us for more details.

— Mark Stemen, Coordinator of Environmental Studies, and Jim Pushnik, Rawlins Chair of Environmental Literacy



University Publications
California State University, Chico
400 West First Street
Chico, CA 95929-0040