Office of Sustainability

Current Initiatives

Power Down HSU

This initiative promotes the idea that relatively small systemic changes and individual actions make a difference in energy consumption, and that as a collective whole we can reduce our carbon footprint. During the 2015-2016 academic year, Power Down HSU helped show that sustainability can be incorporated into the workplace and classroom with minimal effort and discomfort. Participation in Power Down is a two part process: part one has engineers in Facilities Management initiate building systems (e.g., heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, HVAC) reductions, similar to a PG&E demand response type event, for a four hour period; the second part includes active participation by the campus community in choosing to make additional energy use behavior changes to boost electricity reductions.

There are various ways the campus community can participate, for example:

  • Take the Do It in the Dark pledge
  • Wear a sweater
  • Do not charge your personal electronics while at campus
  • Use only ambient lighting in classrooms
  • Have a discussion instead of a projector-based lecture

Event dates for 2016-2017 are set for:

  • Thursday, September 15, 2016
  • Wednesday, October 12, 2016
  • Thursday, November 17, 2016
  • Wednesday, December 7, 2016
  • Thursday, February 9, 2017
  • Wednesday, March 8, 2017
  • Thursday, April 13, 2017

During 2015-2016, the four Power Down HSU events collectively saved 10,632 kWh and 5,882 lbs of CO2, so the greater number of events during 2016-2017 should yield even better results.

Please contact TallChief Comet, Director of the Office of Sustainability ( with questions or concerns.


Humboldt State University hosts Zimride, an online ridesharing service that connects drivers and passengers for local or long distance trips. HSU students, faculty and staff can sign in to the network using their HSU user ID or Facebook account at

Zipcar is a car sharing alternative to car rental/car ownership with FREE parking on campus. It gives you 24/7 self-service access to four cars, with low hourly and daily rates that include gas and insurance. Zipcar makes it easy to get off campus for errands, entertainment, and even road trips! All while avoiding the hassles and expenses of owning a car and finding parking on campus.  Join today and you can be driving in no time.

The Jack Pass provides HSU students with unlimited free ride access on bus systems serving Humboldt County. Jack Pass is also available to HSU employees for a discounted fee. And you can take your bike on Redwood Transit System (RTS) buses! Learn more about Jack Pass at

Policies & Reports

The Sustainability Tracking and Rating System, STARS, is being implemented for the second time during the 2016-2017 academic year.  Developed by AASHE, STARS is a rating system specifically for colleges and universities to measure sustainability performance.  To learn more about STARS at HSU visit our STARS site.

The HSU Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a planning and policy document designed to guide the University's efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The near-term target is to reduce emissions to or below 1990 levels by 2020. HSU President Dr. Lisa Rossbacher has made it a goal for the University to become carbon neutral by 2030, and after that to go carbon negative.

The HSU 2015-2020 Strategic Plan lays out priorities, goals and concrete steps to meet the University's mission. It has four key goals focused on Student Success, Supporting Diversity, Partnerships & Community, and Resources & Sustainability. These are:

  1. Prepare students to be socially and environmentally responsible leaders in a diverse and globalized world
  2. Foster meaningful relationships across differences, including diverse cultural communities, identities and competencies
  3. Strengthen partnerships with local communities
  4. Serve as effective stewards of the natural and built environment and the University's financial resources with a focus on sustainability

Adopted in 2014, the CSU Sustainability Policy aims not only to reduce Universities' environmental impact, but to integrate sustainability principles and climate science into curricula as well as campus planning and operations. Besides requiring specific greenhouse gas reductions, the policy includes, but is not limited to the following directives:

  1. Reduce solid waste disposal by 80 percent by 2020, and move to zero waste
  2. Increase sustainable food purchases to 20 percent of total food budget by 2020
  3. Pursue water conservation to reduce water consumption 20 percent by 2020

Signed in 2006, Executive Order 987 delegates to each University President the implementation of the CSU Board of Trustee's energy conservation, sustainable building practices, and physical plant management policy. It includes the following mandates:

  1. Design and build all new buildings and major renovations to meet or exceed LEED Silver guidelines
  2. Designate an energy/utilities manager with responsibility and authority for carrying out energy conservation and utilities management programs
  3. Pursue cost effective renewable power generation

Student Activities

The Campus Center for Appropriate Technologies, CCAT, is a 34-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.

  • Graduation Gown Rental is available through CCAT.  Instead of buying a new cap and gown for graduation, over a thousand students have rented them since the program began in 2007.  CCAT also accepts donations of used graduation gowns and caps.  Note: these gowns are now made out of 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.

The Humboldt Energy Independence Fund strives to reduce the environmental impact of energy use at HSU through student driven projects.  HEIF is funded through a student fee that was established in 2007 from a student’s idea.   Students can get involved with HEIF by submitting ideas, participating on the committee, or filling a variety of student assistant paid positions.

The HSU Green Campus Program is a student-run energy and water efficiency program within the Office of Sustainability. Student coordinators design and implement energy competitions, green workplace consultations, campus-wide power-downs, green job fairs and other events that lead to demonstrable savings, increased participation in sustainable practices, and the development of skills applicable to the green workforce. For more information, visit

WRRAP stands for the Waste-Reduction and Resource Awareness Program. WRRAP is the Associated Students program that supports the Compost Squad, R.O.S.E., and HSU Takes Back the Tap.  They also provide education about waste reduction and provide resources for Zero-Waste Events on campus.  WRRAP has opportunities for students to volunteer or serve in leadership roles supporting the education and active change in resource conservation and consumption principles.

  • Reusable Office Supply Exchange accepts surplus and used school and office supplies for reuse.  R.O.S.E. diverts up to $12,000 worth of supplies each semester from being thrown away and provides them free to the campus community.  As a student run program, R.O.S.E. provides an opportunity for students to take an active role in keeping reusable materials out of landfills. 
  • HSU Takes Back the Tap started as a student-led campaign that opposed privatization of water, particularly the bottling of water and its negative environmental, social and health impacts.  The group was instrumental in the installation of two hands-free hydration stations that provide students access to free, clean municipal tap water. Now, as part of WRRAP, HSU Takes Back the Tap continues its message and also helps organize  “bottle-free” events on campus at which no plastic water bottles are sold, including the HSU commencement ceremony. 
  • Donation Dash occurs during the week-long move-out of students from the Residence Halls. Housing & Dining, WRRAP, and Plant Operations coordinate a collection for things that that can be recycled or donated to local charities and thrift stores instead of thrown away.  Annually this keeps over 25,000 pounds of materials out of the landfill.
Humboldt State University