Humboldt State University

Environmental Sustainability

Humboldt State's dedication to environmental responsibility and developing innovative green technologies is mirrored by the culture of Humboldt County itself. Nowhere is this more evident than in Arcata, our hometown. Here, both students and community members see sustainability as an essential part of daily life, affecting everything from the food they eat to the transportation they choose to the places they work. The shared campus and community dedication to environmentally conscious living means that sustainability is a key part of the Humboldt State experience.

HSU Faculty pursue innovative and collaborative research projects concerning the environment, sustainability and social-ecological resilience. In working towards this mission, HSU research catalyzes knowledge mobilization about the environment, engages community partners and policy makers to foster positive impacts at local and international levels about the environment.

Sustainability is incorporated throughout our curriculum, interwoven into our approach to campus operations and spread by our graduates who carry knowledge and skills related to sustainability with them when they graduate. Many graduates, in fact, choose to sign the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility, which HSU students created and has spread to universities around the world.


Featured Researchers


Han-Sup Han, Ph.D.

Humboldt State's well-deserved reputation as a top school for forestry has been earned by dedicated professors like Han-Sup Han. His passion for forests stretches back to his youth in rural South Korea where he first became aware of how the forest touches so many aspects of our lives.

Han's students are exposed to the latest forestry techniques through the department's many lab activities at HSU. While in his research he's helping foresters take a close look at fuels reduction thinning treatments—the sort of thing that can prevent forest fires like the devastating 2008 fire season in California that took more than $1 billion in state and federal resources to combat.

So far, the research is looking good. Thinning crowded forests can also provide the materials necessary to help us reduce our dependence on fossil fuel-based energy sources. Working with the federal government agencies and private landowners, Han and his students are identifying ways forests can make use of slash—broken branches, brushes and small-diameter trees that make up the residues left from logging and fuel reduction thinning treatments. Their research results indicate that slash can be cost-effectively collected and transported to local energy plants.

Today, many schools and hospitals across the American West are reducing their energy bills and generating heat from this forest-derived biomass. This benefits foresters, who for years were forced to simply waste forest residues, and the environment as demand for heating fuel is effectively met.

Whether the forest serves as a wildlife conservation area or is actively being managed, the real key to healthy forests is proper management and that, says Han, is where Humboldt State students can make a career while also making a difference.

From any type of forest management activities, there will always be some residues that are left and not effectively utilized. Han and his students are looking at ways to produce renewable energy from what's known as "slash." It's already at work in schools and hospitals throughout the American West.