California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) has earned a “STARS Silver” rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in recognition of its sustainability achievements. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

Since earning AASHE’s “Bronze” rating in 2018, CSUDH’s efforts to establish the next generation of student sustainability leaders has grown into a thriving student internship program. Dozens of interns and student volunteers have engaged nearly 2,500 people in sustainable campaigns and education, while working to develop sustainable solutions for the campus and local communities.

“Earning a silver rating shows that CSUDH is an emerging leader in sustainability in higher education,” said Ellie Perry, manager for CSUDH’s Office of Sustainability. “As a campus, we are ultimately all here for the students. Their  efforts to make sustainability a core part of our campus culture is a big part of why we were able to progress to Silver so quickly.”

Many of the buildings on the CSUDH campus are early 1970s construction. While not built to today’s LEED standards, these buildings have been modified using state-of-the-art technologies that demonstrate new innovations in the pursuit of net zero energy buildings, and serve as active case studies for the California Energy Commission and the California State University system. 

CSUDH’s physical grounds and buildings also serve as living laboratories to engage the campus community in developing sustainability solutions, such as the university’s urban farm, which provides hundreds of pounds of produce for in-need students. The farm also serves as a hub for engaging local communities and K-12 institutions in urban gardening and is a venue for sharing sustainable practices that combat regional food desert issues and support student achievement. 

CSUDH is also using its sustainability initiatives around food to fundamentally address the basic needs of its students and ensure their success. This includes a CSUDH chapter of the national Food Recovery Network, and a (pre-COVID-19) weekly EBT-friendly Farmers Market providing Market Match benefits to CalFresh recipients.

“Sustainability solutions obviously help the planet, but are fundamentally designed to help people as well,” said Perry. “CSUDH already supports programs and efforts that make the campus an exceptional place to work, teach, and learn, so adding a sustainability lens to these initiatives simply enriches what we already do well.”