Fresno State commits to campus sustainability

Since The Talloires Declaration was established in 1990, over 350 universities around the world have signed the ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability issues into their teaching, research, operations and outreach.

Fresno State climbed onboard in November when President John D. Welty signed the declaration at the grand opening for the solar parking project. Since then, the university has taken many steps toward a greener future, including the establishment of the Office of Risk Management and Sustainability.

“We are doing a lot of reorganizing now to try and bring all of the sustainability initiatives under one umbrella,” said David Moll, vice president of the newly established office.

The office is dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of the campus and has already made significant progress by joining the City of Fresno to create solutions for the environmental challenges facing the San Joaquin Valley.

This partnership was made official in March with the signing of the Univer/City Sustainability Initiative to facilitate a collaborative working relationship.

“We are going to interface with Fresno Green and bring the campus in line with some of their principles and work them into the master plan of the university,” Moll said.

Fresno Green is the city’s strategy for becoming more sustainable and becoming a city that protects urban forests, promotes smart growth, buys locally, harnesses solar energy, provides bike and pedestrian trails, leads by example and recycles.

Many of these same goals are directly reflected in the university’s master plan.

Since one of the biggest environmental challenges facing the San Joaquin Valley is pollution, promoting alternative forms of transportation is a main goal of the university.

The master plan states, “the central theme regarding new parking facilities is to maximize those we have, and to use techniques to encourage other travel modes, specifically, pedestrian, bicycle and transit.”

“A lot of people aren’t using mass transit so we are working to create a better option to-and-from campus,” said Caryl Jacobs, administrative project coordinator for the office of the vice president for administration.

This fall, a partnership with Fresno Area Express (FAX) will be established to provide better services to the campus community, including more useful routes and reduced fares. Students will either receive reduced rides or free rides using parking fines money, which by law has to be spent on alternative transportation.

Currently this money goes toward the Red Bike and Rideshare programs, which will still be maintained. Further programs, like the Dog Run, will be explored to provide students transportation while on campus.

Another way of reducing the pollutants in the air is simply by planting more trees; that is what manager of grounds Ryan McCaughey intends on doing. He said they also have the added benefit of providing shade that makes the campus cooler and promotes walking.

“The two worst things in the Valley are heat and air, so the more trees we can plant the better,” McCaughey said.

McCaughey also oversees the university’s recycling program, which diverted 72 percent of the school’s waste from landfills last year. The main recycling facility will be moved this summer to make it more accessible to the public and promote more recycling.

As the campus continues to grow, the buildings will be designed to operate with low energy demands and will be constructed with sustainability in mind.

“We are trying to create more green space on campus by building up rather than out,” Jacobs said.

A subcommittee on campus sustainability is being established to advise the campus planning committee on creating and maintaining sustainable practices throughout the campus.

“I really want students to be involved and I don’t want it to be just another administrative committee,” Moll said. “This is the sort of thing that to move forward, students really need to be involved.”

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