Humboldt State University

What We're Up To: Operations

Campus Operations

At Humboldt State, sustainability is a core principle that guides how we operate. Conserving energy and water, as well as reducing our overall carbon footprint, is the goal of numerous initiatives and policies. As is the case with many green endeavors at Humboldt State, students are deeply involved in creating a campus that operates with sustainability in mind.


Tall Chief Comet is the Sustainability Coordinator on campus. This is a full-time position designed to oversee sustainability on campus. He also serves on the President’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability.

In the fall of 2009 the campus established the President’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability (PACS) which will forward recommendations to the President regarding implementation of sustainability concepts for the campus, including nine focus areas: the built environment, landscape, education (curriculum), energy, food services, procurement, transportation, waste and water.


Humboldt State is committed to constructing all future buildings to at least Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards. In 2008, our Behavioral and Social Sciences Building received LEED Gold certification and our new Kinesiology & Athletics Building and the College Creek residence hall are designed to LEED Silver equivalency.

The Manor Apartments in the Residence Halls were one of the first-ever Energy Star certified residence hall rooms in the country.

Inside, HSU's buildings feature low-flow toilets, sink aerators, and timed water faucets (to prevent water left running). Bathrooms are equipped with motion sensors to activate lighting.

All campus lights have been upgraded to fluorescent T-8s and T-5s. These compact fluorescent bulbs reduce energy used in campus lighting.

All soda vending machines are equipped with vending misers to reduce phantom loads and cut energy usage.

The HSU janitorial staff uses Green Seal Certified and non-toxic, biodegradable products for cleaning buildings.


Humboldt State is doing its part to help California achieve its ambitious climate goal of reaching carbon neutrality for greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy production.

Along with the State of California (AB-32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) we are capping our greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to 1990 emissions levels. Under the California State University's Sustainability Policy (Executive Order 987), Humboldt State is reducing its energy consumption by 15 percent, increasing its renewable energy portfolio and expanding its on-site campus energy generation.

Dining Services:

Humboldt State's Dining Services works with the Community Alliance with Family Farms to purchase food directly from local farmers. Dining Services also works to create seasonal menus that feature organic produce. During the North Coast's growing season, between 50 and 100 percent of produce served on campus comes from local growers.

Humboldt State also works with several local food companies such as Los Bagels, Pacific Rim Noodle House, The Tofu Shop, Brio Bread, Humboldt Creamery, Eel River Beef and others to provide locally produced goods on campus. About 25 to 30 percent of HSU's items are purchased from local growers and food manufacturers.

About 95 percent of the local produce sold on campus is organic. Of the total product mix for the year, between 15 to 20 percent is organic. HSU is expanding its organic coffee line so that 98 percent of coffee on campus is organic.

All ground beef served on campus is local and grass-fed.

One hundred percent of tuna purchased is sourced from "Wild Planet," sustainably caught wild seafood. Twenty-five percent of other seafood products are certified sustainable.

All eggs served by HSU Dining are cage-free. Currently, Dining is working to switch to mayonnaise made from cage-free eggs.


The California State University system, of which Humboldt State University is a part, purchases 9 percent, or 66 million kilowatt-hours, of its electricity from renewable sources. The EPA has ranked the CSU system as the fifth largest college or university purchaser of renewable energy.

The CSU as a whole is also increasing its self-generated energy capacity from 26 to 50 megawatts (MW) by 2014

Current photovoltaic systems at Humboldt State include: a 300 kW photovoltaic system on top of its Library, a 10 kW system on top of the Old Music Building, 2.4kW for the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology and a 7kW solar hydrogen project at the Telonicher Marine Laboratory in Trinidad, 15 minutes north of HSU.

There are two cogeneration units on campus that generate electricity from natural gas. The waste heat that is produced is used to heat domestic water and nearby buildings.

The Schatz Energy Research Center operates a hydrogen fueling station on campus. It is California’s first rural facility on its “Hydrogen Highway.” HSU is home to the Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV-adv), built on the Highlander mid-sized sport utility vehicle platform, and a Toyota Prius powered by the same hybrid technology.

An award-winning heating and ventilation project controls in the Science Building is saving 27,000 kilowatt-hours per year and 9,000 therms of gas, for an annual savings of about $11,000.

The Department of Housing and Dining gives away free Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) to incoming on-campus residents. In addition, the HSU Power Save Green Campus Program gives out free CFLs and power strips, to eliminate phantom loads, to the campus community. Humboldt State was one of the first schools to participate in the Green Campus Program, a statewide organization that trains student interns to integrate energy education into the curricula, raise campus awareness about the relationship between the environment and energy and implement campus energy programs. HSU Power Save Green Campus Program's signature initiative is a campus office audit and certification program that reduces each office's energy consumption by 15 percent.


In caring for the campus, Humboldt State follows best practices for HSU's region and climate including: drip irrigation, converting lawn areas to mulch and shrubs and reducing the overall area that must be watered by breaking up the landscape (by adding shrubbery and other landscaping features).

Part of the reduction of watered landscape includes HSU's artificial turf football and indoor fields — both made from recycled tires. The soccer field will be converted to the same recycled-tire turf within the next year to reduce HSU's water demand even more. The areas of campus that are watered with greater frequency are timed or computer-controlled to minimize over-watering.


HSU's award-winning 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled paper policy provided an open purchasing contract for the 22 other CSU campuses to do the same.

HSU departments, on average, purchase a combined 2,900 cases of letter size copier paper a year. When considering the school's previous mix of virgin and 30 percent post-consumer waste recycled paper, the University's conversion to 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled paper results in direct annual savings of:

  • Over 1,200 trees
  • 349,000 gallons of water
  • 3,000 lbs. air pollution
  • 104,485 lbs. greenhouse gases
  • 215 cu. yards of landfill space
  • 204,000 kilowatt hours of electricity

Student Initiatives:

The Campus Center for Appropriate Technologies is a 30-year-old student-run demonstration home for sustainable living. In 2008 CCAT won Best Practices for the CSU Student Sustainability Program. Annually, CCAT educates over 2,000 students, faculty, staff, and visitors through tours, student-taught courses, workshops, presentations and hands-on projects.

Instead of buying a new cap and gown for graduation, students can rent the necessary gear from CCAT. Following graduation, students who purchased the items new can donate their used graduation gowns and caps back to CCAT. Over a thousand students have participated in the rental program since it began in 2007. Additionally, new gowns are made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.

Donation Dash occurs during the week-long move-out of students from the Residence Halls. A lot of waste can be generated, but together, Housing & Dining, the Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program and Plant Operations divert reusables and recyclables from the waste stream. What isn't tossed gets recycled and donated to local charities and thrift stores. An estimated 18,195 lbs. of trash is diverted annually.

HSU Takes Back the Tap is a student-led campaign that opposes privatization of water, particularly the bottling of water and its negative environmental, social and health impacts. The group was instrumental in the construction of two hands-free hydration stations that provide students access to clean, cold municipal tap water. HSU Takes Back the Tap has also helped organize “bottle-free” events on campus at which no plastic water bottles are sold. Their largest event to date was the "bottle-free" 2010 Commencement ceremony.

The Graduation Pledge for environmental and social responsibility started in 1987 and is a Humboldt State original. It reads: "I pledge to thoroughly investigate and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job opportunity that I consider." The pledge has since been adopted at universities around the world.

HSU Power Save Green Campus Program, a statewide student-run energy efficiency program, is the two-time winner of the CSU's Best Practices in Student Energy Efficiency Program. Humboldt State recently won first place in the CSU's Facilities Management Student Energy Efficiency Program.

The Humboldt Energy Independence Fund, in its first round of funding, granted over $100,000 to two projects: an artistic photovoltaic array for the roof of the Music Building and an addition to a solar radiation monitoring system on the library roof. The first fund of its kind at a university, HEIF is financed by a $10 fee that students voted to approve. The fees generated go directly toward student-designed energy related projects.

Reusable Office Supply Exchange is a project run by the Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program. ROSE is used by over 1,100 people and diverts up to $12,000 worth of school and office supplies each semester.


Humboldt State University offers free public transportation through its Jack Pass and Housing Weekend Shuttle programs. The university also encourages carpooling by offering free daily parking when a driver carpools with two or more passengers. The campus offers discounted parking permits for motorcycle and mo-ped vehicles. Finally, the university provides access to AlterNet rides, a free rideshare service.

Humboldt State University offers approximately 1,600 bicycle parking spaces on campus. The campus also houses a bicycle learning center and holds an annual “Car-Free” day each September, encouraging the use of bicycles over motor vehicles.

Green Wheels is a student organization focused on promoting bicycling as alternative transportation. This group has also collaborated with campus and local City of Arcata planners on bicycle route and infrastructure planning.


Everything from computers to paper to office furniture gets reused and recycled at Humboldt State. In 2006, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, 77.8 percent of waste was diverted at HSU.

We recycle:

  • All plastic, metal and glass containers.
  • All paper products including books, cardboard and office paper.
  • Packaging materials including bubble wrap, peanuts and wood pallets.
  • Construction and building materials.
  • Electronic Waste.
  • Office and classroom furniture.

Recycling bins are located throughout campus and in every building. Humboldt State pays special attention to the flow of waste from the desk to the final bin and is always trying to improve a building's collection system.

Next to every outdoor trash can is a recycling bin and most outdoor waste stations also feature a compost bucket. The compost buckets program annually collects about three tons of food and yard waste. The Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program donates the finished compost to HSU Groundskeeping for plant beds and to the Campus Center for Appropriate Technologies, which uses it to fertilize its gardens.

The Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program also educates the campus about waste reduction, manages ROSE (Reusable Office Supply Exchange), a space for the campus to trade unwanted supplies, and helps other groups host zero-waste events. During move-out from the residence halls, Donation Dash diverts usable goods from the waste stream.