San Diego State University has a thriving culture of sustainability. As a campus, SDSU strives to increase its energy efficiency, reduce its water consumption and institute “green” practices. Over the last few years, SDSU has worked hard on becoming a green and sustainable campus.
Perhaps the most obvious of these efforts is the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union. It is LEED Platinum Certified, the highest possible certification from the Green Building Council. It uses recyled materials and has a commercial-scale rainwater collection system, a radiant heat flooring system and trusses made from layers of forest stewardship council-certified wood.
To expand on the campus’ dedication to sustainability, President Elliot Hirshman signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. “As signatories to the climate commitment, we are pledging to work as a community toward the elimination of net greenhouse gas emissions and to promote research and education that builds a more sustainable world,” Hirshman said.
Recently, SDSU was also recognized by the Green Restaurant Association both as the first campus to require all of its tenants to meet the Certified Green Restaurant environmental standards and as the campus with the world’s most certified stadiums/arenas.
In 2013, SDSU began offering a sustainability major for students especially interested in environmental issues. Sustainability is an interdisciplinary program that allows students to study environmental issues with a more conceptual and cultural approach, rather than a technical one. Sustainability co- director, undergraduate adviser and anthropology professor Matthew Laurer said he was excited to see students pushing to make sustainability an official degree CHHS has several programs that demonstrate the college’s dedication to environmentalism as well. Many of the faculty in the Graduate School of Public Health study the impact of environmental issues on our health. Interim Director Rick Gersberg has studied the effect of sea level rise on coastal wetlands and their habitat as well as human health risk assessment for drinking and/or bathing in contaminated waters. Dr. Eunha Hoh’s current research proj- ects also focus on ocean and human health and environmental exposure to tobacco smoke residue (third-hand smoke) and tobacco product waste. Lastly, Dr. Tom Novotny has also done extensive research into the environmental impact of cigarette butts as well as their acknowledged danger to smokers.
This year the School of Social Work also jumped into studying environmentalism and introduced the Environmental Social Work and Community Engagement Specialization. “The Environmental Social Work and Community Engagement Specialization prepares BSW graduates for work in environmental advocacy; community organizing regarding local ecological issues; outreach with family and community members and education and local leadership development”, notes director Melinda Hohman.
From simple things like recycling bins throughout the campus to the ability to study enviornmental social work, SDSU is promoting sustainability and ensuring that tomorrow’s leaders understand the importance of “being green”.