The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Campus takes steps to becoming greener

Right now, CSUN remains greener than most California colleges and universities when it comes to its methods for conserving and recycling water and energy.

As global warming becomes more of a modern day reality, rather than just a future threat, the pressure continues to be placed on higher education institutions across the globe to set the prime example by becoming as environmentally conscious as possible.

“We’ve done a lot more than most campuses in terms of energy,” said Ron Norton, director of environmental health and safety at CSUN. “You can just walk around the campus and see it.”

Norton is referring to numerous projects that have been completed recently, as well as developments that are currently underway with the assurance of completion in the next 12 to 18 months.

Some campuses, such as UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara, along with a couple of local community colleges such as Moorpark and Ventura College, agree that the best route to becoming greener is through associations that regulate standards for campuses. All these schools belong to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The main goal of such organizations is sustainability in higher education.

“AASHE defines sustainability in an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods and a better world for all generations,” said Judy Walton, director of strategic initiatives for AASHE.

Organizations such as AASHE become partners with like-mined groups such as LEED, which stands for Leading Energy Efficient Design. The goals of both AASHE and LEED are to implement sustainability by rewarding a bronze, silver, gold or platinum award to newly constructed buildings depending on how environmentally friendly they are.

CSUN is not a member of AASHE and has instead chosen to regulate its own standards for being green. But the term “sustainability” is still very important to the Environmental Management System advisory board and to Tom Brown, director of physical plant management, who said CSUN is doing just fine taking its own approach.

“AASHE has a lot of great programs, but I think that sometimes certification and certain predefined standards can stifle innovation,” Brown said.

“I love the way the CSU system has taken up the challenge to become more energy efficient in its own way,” he said. “We don’t necessarily need an outside source to credit us as long as we’re implementing sustainable aspects into our projects.”

CSUN has already built two major solar panels that cover two parking structures and have the ability to generate up to 692 kilowatts of energy. The campus is also the proud home of the largest megawatt fuel cell generator at a university in the world, with UC Irvine possessing the second largest.

“The best part about the planning and completion of the solar projects, as well as the fuel cell generator, is that they were organized and self- installed by actual CSUN engineering students,” Brown said. “No other institutions that I know of have been capable of doing this with large projects. I think CSUN does a great job at providing opportunities that are appropriate and that apply to the missions of our young people.”

Other developments are also currently underway such as the campus’ Satellite Chiller Planet, which will be powered by the student-built fuel cell and will contain two 1,000-ton chillers used for recycling energy and helping to keep it more clean, and the building of a subtropical rain forest that will help in the reuse of millions of gallons of water that would otherwise go to waste.

CSUN is picking up some major pace in the very near future in hopes to stay as environmentally conscious as possible.

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