Sustainability: Current Initiatives

Earth Week 2018

Download the 2018 Calendar of Activities planned for Earth Week here or see below. 

Read in-depth descriptions of activities here

Earth Week 2018 HSU Calendar of Activities


Power Down HSU

Power Down is an innovative approach to energy conservation that 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 past years, Power Down HSU helped show that sustainability can be incorporated into the workplace and classroom with minimal effort and discomfort. Participation in Power Down was traditionally a two part process:

  1. Engineers in Facilities Management initiate building systems reductions (e.g., heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, HVAC) similar to a PG&E demand response event over a four hour period.
  2. The campus community actively participates in choosing to make additional energy use behavior changes to boost electricity reductions.

In order to promote and emphasize positive actions of individual campus stakeholders, moving forward, Green Campus will only be implementing the second part of the process: active participation in behavior change. Given this change, Green Campus asks the campus community to reduce their energy consumption on by taking actions including but not limited to:

  • turning off lights when not in use,
  • turning off computers when not in use,
  • turning off audiovisual equipment when not in use,
  • using ambient lighting in classrooms,
  • taking class outside,
  • unplugging and/or removing unnecessary appliances, decorative lighting, and personal heating/cooling devices,
  • turning down temperature set-points on HVAC systems where applicable,
  • making sure doors and windows are closed when HVAC units are on,
  • ensuring that heating and cooling vents are not blocked or obstructed by bookshelves, desks, posters, or other barriers,
  • cleaning out department refrigerators

Power Down events will proceed from 8am- 5pm during Fall Semester 2017 on the following dates:

  • Oct 4
  • Oct 18
  • Nov 1
  • Nov 15
  • Dec 6

Please contact Katie Koscielak, Sustainability Analyst ( with questions or concerns.


HSU is proud to announce the launch of Zagster, a community bike sharing program, in Fall 2017! Bike share is a convenient, cheap and fun transportation option for getting around campus and town. HSU’s Zagster bike stations are located at Harry Griffith Hall and Jolly Giant Commons. Bikes are reserved with the Zagster app and can be returned to any station, including the four stations planned for downtown Arcata. Bikes come with a basket and built-in lock that allows riders to secure bikes mid-trip.Annual membership for HSU students, faculty and staff is $20. This option gives you the first hour for FREE each time you reserve a bike and only costs $2 per additional hour. You can also sign up as an hourly member and pay $2 per hour, up to $30 per ride.

Humboldt State University hosts Zimridean 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 via link above.

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! 

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. 

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.