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LBSU looks to ‘greener’ practices with new sustainability commission

With the new Imagine Beach 2030 initiative commencing in less than a month, university officials are looking at ways to increase sustainable usage on campus, one way being the creation of the Presidential Commission on Sustainability on Sept. 28.

The commission’s role will be to help evaluate new technology or approaches that might enhance climate resilience, work with faculty to integrate issues of sustainability into classes, mount public information campaigns and sponsor events that showcase current and future sustainability measures, according to President Jane Close Conoley.

Wetlands plant ecology professor Christine Whitcraft said this commission will serve as an opportunity to elevate the profile of sustainability on campus. It will provide leadership for other programs on campus and will not replace the organizations that promote sustainability, such as Environmental Science & Policy club, Sustain U among others.  

The first interim meeting was on Oct. 24 to figure out the details and logistics of the commission.

Before the Sustainability Commission was created, there was the Sustainability Task Force which had its first meeting in April 2011 and its final meeting in March 2017. They were dedicated to helping the university identify and adopt sustainable practices in university and auxiliary operations, incorporating sustainability into academic programs and increasing engagement of campus community in sustainability programs and initiatives.

Some of the previous members of the Sustainability Task Force will be part of this new Presidential Commission. Conoley will serve as the convener and faculty, staff, students, community members and a few university administrators will also serve on the commission, with Whitcraft as interim chair. Nominations and elections will be held in spring 2019 to bring in other members.

No other California State University has a similar commission, according to Conoley, but  President Dianne F. Harrison from California State University, Northridge is very active in sustainability efforts nationwide.

Although the creation of this commission isn’t officially part of the Imagine Beach 2030 initiative, Conoley said that sustainability efforts should be recognized beyond the time frame.

“I think we must imagine and plan for a future in which we are challenged with water and energy shortages, toxins in the air, compromised soil and oceans, and threats to all of the Earth’s species including us,” Conoley said.

Being a leader in sustainability, LBSU has a Climate Action Plan that was created in 2014 by faculty, students and staff on the Sustainability Task Force, which “provides a roadmap for achieving climate neutrality by 2030 by reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions associated with CSULB operations and activities while promoting curriculum and research related to climate change and sustainability.”

“Having a presidential commission conveys the message that sustainability is not housed in any particular field or department but instead is a lens through which we view all activities – individual and university scale activities,” Whitcraft said.

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