March 29, 2023
Happy Earth Month, Trojans!
Earth Day is April 22, but with over 30 sustainability activities and events happening, we’ll be celebrating all month long! As many of you know, sustainability is a presidential priority and for all Trojans, Earth Month offers us a terrific opportunity to learn more about USC’s sustainability framework, Assignment: Earth, and brush up on personal and professional actions and behaviors that can help USC achieve its sustainability goals.
Whether it’s getting your hands dirty at the USC Peace Garden or imagining a fossil-fuel free L.A. at the USC Arts & Climate Collective Student Art Showcase & Community Resource Fair, there are plenty of ways to get directly involved in our sustainability efforts and make tangible improvements to our community and environment.
You can check out all of USC’s many Earth Month events here.
Even prior to our launching Assignment: Earth, teams from across USC have been “walking our sustainability talk” and have made tremendous progress toward our sustainability goals . Here are a few highlights:
We are finalizing the first five appointments to our new postdoctoral fellowship program to accelerate sustainability research, train future leaders, and support discovery and implementation of innovative solutions to sustainability problems.
So far this year, the Sustainability Across the Curriculum Initiative has awarded grants for seven new or adapted courses that incorporate sustainability. In addition, the Sustainability Data Hub is now live, providing campus-related data sets to incorporate into experiential learning.
USC has just released its Fiscal Year 2022 Sustainability Progress Report, focusing on operations and the built environment. Thanks to the efforts of everyone across our campuses, we have a lot to celebrate.
One particular success is a 31 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2014, even as our campuses grew. We accomplished this by purchasing renewable electricity that is 45 percent less carbon intensive from LADWP and improving our campus energy efficiency by 15.4 percent.
We are also “Zero Heroes,” diverting ever increasing amounts of waste from landfill. By Earth Day, we’ll have prevented over 1.5 million single-use plastic beverage bottles from entering the waste stream! Last fall, we also diverted almost 92 percent of waste from landfill at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and this month marks the launch of our first Zero Waste zone at Little Galen.
Equity and Inclusion
USC has established its first-ever Office of Business Diversity & Economic Opportunity. Its mission is to significantly expand USC procurement opportunities for local minority, veteran, and women-owned businesses. In parallel, Trojan Shop Local, which provides the public with a directory of local businesses, has expanded and now includes nearly 80 small, diverse businesses located in the neighborhoods surrounding USC. Keeping dollars local strengthens our community.
Also, this semester, the USC Office of Inclusion and Diversity introduced the Community, Accessibility, Restoration and Ecology (CARE) Challenge. The CARE Challenge was founded to award microgrants of $500 to $5,000 to organizations hosting university-wide events highlighting the intersection between sustainability and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. To date, microgrants have been distributed to co-sponsor these Earth Month events: Arts & Climate Collective Festival, Environmental Student Assembly lecture, and the “Mud Kin” exhibition and Land Back symposium.
There are more ways than ever to get involved with sustainability at USC.Students can explore over 30 curricular and extracurricular organizations, fellowships, and internship opportunities.On April 17, the new Student Sustainability Training will launch on Trojan Learn to help students learn their role in sustainability on campus and in the world.We’ve broken ground on the USC Sustainability Hub. Opening in the fall in the Student Union, the hub will provide a space for collaboration focused on our Assignment: Earth initiatives.And a note to everyone: while you’re on our campuses, help us continue to address the global issue of plastic pollution. Use reusable and refillable containers and fill up at a campus hydration station .
Finally, I want to invite you to participate in USC’s second annual Sustainability Survey . This important survey gauges the sustainability literacy, culture, and behavior of our USC community over time. It takes fewer than 15 minutes and is available online now through April 16. Your answers are anonymous, and you’ll have the chance to win a $100 USC Bookstore gift card.
I hope you’ll take the opportunity to participate in Earth Month, and learn more about Assignment: Earth and the efforts your fellow Trojans are taking to address the climate crisis, restore our planet, and create more sustainable communities.
Sustainability is a big assignment, but Trojans are all in! Working together with sustainability as a backbone to everything we do, I know we can achieve and exceed our goals.
Chief Sustainability Officer