California Lutheran University has a long history of sustainability efforts. Construction of the Pearson Library in the 1980’s contained numerous “green” initiatives, including use of indirect lighting, earthen berms, and building orientation to reduce energy use.
During the 1990’s residence hall remodels installed solar water heating panels on most of the residence halls, and a new program in Environmental Studies was created.
In the past couple of years, sustainability has gained increasing prominence in higher education and in the broader culture, and several people on campus have augmented their individual efforts. These efforts have included a demonstrated commitment by faculty members to introduce sustainability into more course offerings, specific class projects tying sustainability into social and economic problems and practices, and increased focus on sustainability in University operations and planning.
Additionally, more and more students are entering college and graduate school with higher awareness of sustainability issues—and with expectations that institutions of higher education can foster a culture of sustainability and deliver an education for the future.
In Summer 2007 an informal group of University administrators and faculty started meeting on an ad hoc basis in order to enhance collaboration and coordination of sustainability projects. Beyond initiatives and individual efforts, however, the informal group strongly believed that an explicit commitment to sustainability be made by CLU at an institutional level. Consequently,the Sustainability Task Force was formalized in the Summer of 2008, under the leadership of Co-Chairs Sam Thomas and Ryan Van Ommeren, to develop defined objectives for the implementation of sustainable practices and the cultivation of a culture of sustainability throughout the campus community.
The Task Force has continued to meet, share ideas, coordinate initiatives and policy recommendations, and engage students in sustainability work. In March, 2010, CLU became an institutional member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.