In unveiling California State University, Chico’s new Strategic Plan last month, President Gayle Hutchinson referenced its determined dedication to resilient and sustainable systems as a priority. Since then, the University has learned of a pair national recognitions it received for its environmental practices and commitment to sustainability.

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and the Sierra Club have awarded CSU, Chico for its environmental practices and commitment to sustainability, placing the University among rare company throughout the country when it comes to sustainable and environmental practices.

“CSU, Chico has had a long-standing commitment to sustainability,” said University Sustainability Programs Manager Cheri Chastain. “Being yet again recognized in company with other incredible universities is truly an honor.”

AASHE recognized CSU, Chico for its overall commitment to sustainable practices in its 2019 Sustainability Campus Index (SCI). Using its Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), AASHE ranked CSU, Chico No. 7 on its Overall Top Performers list for Master’s Institutions. The University moved up one spot from last year’s ranking, and once again received a Gold Rating.

“Our Gold STARS rating is something everyone on our campus should be proud of,” Chastain said. “The STARS system is exhaustively comprehensive and requires effort and participation from everyone on our campus. We should all take a moment to celebrate, but also continue to push ourselves to never stop improving.”

Over the past year CSU, Chico reorganized and reenergized sustainability efforts on campus, while not losing sight of the aggressive sustainability goals set by Hutchinson. The University is focused on working toward climate neutrality and ensuring resilience in the face of a changing climate.    

Other CSU campuses ranked in the AASHE top 10 were CSUN at No. 5 and Sacramento State at No. 9.

Additionally, the Sierra Club released its Cool Schools 2019 rankings, where CSU, Chico was listed at No. 39, up one spot from last year’s placement. The only other CSU campus to be listed in the top 50 was No. 31-ranked CSUN.

The University has been addressing sustainability in all facets of the campus. The Campus Sustainability Committee is reforming for action with 11 subcommittees addressing sustainability on our campus from research, curriculum and engagement to energy and water efficiency, improving alternative transportation and exploring procurement practices with an eye toward zero waste. 

According to the Sierra Club, a record 282 schools—including four-year and two-year institutions in the United States and Canada—vied for this year’s title of most sustainable institution, which was awarded to Thompson Rivers University from Kamloops, British Columbia.

Among the factors considered by the Sierra Club for the Cool Schools 2019 list were curriculum and research around sustainability, as well as campus and public engagement, waste, water and coordination and planning.