Campus, News

Long Beach State’s attempt in reaching sustainability

By: Nate Martinez and Ava Domenichelli

Long Beach State has made commitments to create a more sustainable campus, identifying areas of focus in their Climate Action and Adaption Plan (CAAP).

While progress is made across campus, there still remains a significant amount of work. According to Sustainability Manager Holli Fajack, the goals will be difficult to attain.

“It’s hard to say at this point,” Fajack said. “I’ll be honest, it’s an ambitious goal.”

While fulfilling the CAAP within the time constraints is ideal, the university is focusing on making tangible progress.

Grow Beach Garden

In partnership with SustainU, the ASI affiliated sustainability programs, Gardner and his team opened the Grow Beach Garden. Grow Beach is an on campus garden cultivated by students and staff, which donates the crop to the ASI Beach Pantry and Beach Kitchen. Its purpose is to educate students on growing their own produce.

“We don’t use any pesticides or any other chemical products to produce the produce that we plant,” said Kimberly Cruz, Special Projects and Initiatives Coordinator for Sustain U.

Solar Panels

The 322 acre campus uses a significant amount of energy to power its buildings. To address this, the university added solar panels in the parking lots to incorporate a more sustainable method for collecting energy.

“That provides one third of the campus’s peak summer usage,” Director of Campus Planning and Sustainability Michael Gardner said. “That’s a lot you know, a third of your energy coming directly from the sun”


In 2017, the university also updated its water conservation plan, which focuses on water use audits and implementing the use of reclaimed water whenever possible

“More than half the campus is actually irrigated with reclaimed or recycled water,” Fajack said. “We’re reducing the amount of drinking water that we’re using on campus all the time and we’re actively trying to expand what’s called the purple pipe network that carries the recycled water.”


With so many different sustainability goals, funding is always an issue. Remodeling buildings that consume the most energy is a start.

“If we don’t have good data on every building on campus and how much energy they’re using, then we don’t know how to prioritize which buildings to work on first to make them more energy efficient,” Fajack said.

Fajack said installing new metering across campus is the first step in this process, but in the meantime upgrading lighting to LED and installing occupancy sensors can help in the short term.

Gas to Electric

One of the sustainability department’s main points of focus is transitioning from gas to electric powered equipment anywhere they can. This includes the university’s central plant, which is responsible for heating and cooling campus.

“They’re using boilers that are natural gas powered, but they’re in the process of transitioning those to electric powered so that they don’t have to be burning fossil fuels,” Fajack said.

In doing so, the university hopes to reduce fossil fuel usage by 68% and total greenhouse gas emission by 10%.

The sustainability department is also paying attention to smaller pieces of gas powered equipment, such as landscaping equipment and campus transportation vehicles.

“Those leaf blowers and stuff, even though they’re small, they’re actually responsible for a lot of pollution and emissions,” Fajack said. “And then, most of our campus fleet is already electric, but our energy manager has been converting them so that they’re solar powered.”

The university estimates the electric vehicle adoption alone will result in a $43,000 return on investment, as well as a reduction by 35% in energy and 15% in greenhouse gas emissions.

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