1. Education

Gerontology Health Planet Healthy People

1.1. Increase core undergraduate sustainability courses by 10 per year through 2028, plus develop new interdisciplinary certificates, minors and majors.

1.2. Increase faculty capacity to teach sustainability courses—both didactic and experiential—through a focused faculty hiring approach that increases the number of faculty with expertise in sustainability.

1.3. Elevate sustainability-focused research and experiential learning through (a) implementation of a plan and pilot program for experiential course development and (b) new sustainability research partnerships between students and faculty.

2. Research

USC research is tackling critical sustainability problems by addressing challenges facing natural resources, urban health, infrastructure, mobility, communications, behavior, and equity. In doing so, we strive to address the following goals:

2.1. USC will substantially increase its interdisciplinary research and research training for sustainability and climate change solutions, empowered by world-class scholars in a wide array of disciplines. USC is uniquely qualified to promote this research and implementation necessary to address sustainability challenges due to its location at the heart of a rapidly evolving urban landscape that is impacted by climate change and is experiencing wildfires, air pollution, heat waves, coastal erosion, threats to the marine ecosystems, and drought.

2.2. USC will substantially increase its public outreach, communication, and engagement regarding sustainability and climate change solutions. This will build on USC’s strong ties to stakeholders in city and state government, business and industry, non-governmental organizations and to surrounding communities in developing scalable models of equity-based solutions.

2.3. USC research will have significant real-world impacts and address societal needs though solutions that are replicable and scalable.

3. Equity and Inclusion

Center stakeholder engagement in the design, implementation, and evaluation of USC sustainability initiatives as drivers of (or levers for) the equitable environmental stewardship needed for a vision of our collective future and the common good. The centering of stakeholder engagement will be measured by examining the impact of who participates, our partnerships, and our projects, on USC and the community, from 2021-2028.

3.1.  Students, faculty, staff, and alumni from consistently marginalized groups will report higher sense of belonging and being valued as members of the university community, measured by annual (or periodic) surveys.

3.2.  Community partners from consistently marginalized groups will be more included and valued in joint programming, planning, and decision-making processes at USC, as measured by annual (or periodic) surveys.

3.3.  By June 2023, develop a comprehensive catalog of the sustainability research and programs at USC that work with local communities disproportionately impacted by environmental disruptions and risk exposures, measured by document review and other measures. Updates to the catalog will be done using these and other metrics.

4. Operations

4.1. Mend Our Climate

4.1.a. USC will achieve climate neutrality for annual scopes 1 & 2 emissions for fiscal year 2025 and beyond while seeking to minimize the use of carbon offsets.

4.1.b. USC will achieve climate neutrality for annual scope 3 emissions (air travel, commuting, waste, T&D losses) for fiscal year 2035 and beyond (achieving a 50% reduction by 2028, using 2014 as the baseline).

4.1.c. USC will complete an assessment of purchasing-related scope 3 emissions by fiscal year 2024 and set a related reduction goal by the end of fiscal year 2025.

4.1.d. USC will complete an assessment of scope 3 embodied carbon in all new major construction and renovation projects beginning construction documents in or after fiscal year 2023 and will pursue design and construction strategies for reducing that embodied carbon. For projects beginning construction documents in or after fiscal year 2025, the projects will offset any remaining embodied carbon. 

4.1.e. USC will complete an experiential learning project to model the embodied carbon of the existing physical campuses by fiscal year 2024 and create a goal by fiscal year 2026 around removing historical embodied emissions. 

4.1.f. USC will complete an experiential learning project to model USC’s historical scope 1 and 2 emissions by fiscal year 2024 and create a goal by fiscal year 2026 around removing historical operating emissions.

4.2. Build a Circular Economy

4.2.a. Achieve Zero Waste (90% diversion rate) by fiscal year 2028.

4.2.b. Achieve 30% aversion (reduction in total municipal solid waste generated, using a fiscal year 2022 baseline) by fiscal year 2028.

4.2.c. Convert at least two additional material streams annually to more-circular or closed loop systems.  

4.3. Align with New Water Realities

4.3.a. USC will achieve a 20% potable water use reduction per square foot of total campus building space by FY 2028 (FY 2014 baseline).

4.4. Develop Healthy Ecosystems

4.4.a. USC will develop and begin implementing a long-term plan for grounds and landscaping and strategic planting standards by fiscal year 2024.

4.4.b. USC will update its Design Guidelines to incorporate health and wellness strategies into facilities designs by fiscal year 2023.

4.5. Strengthen Transparency and Accountability

4.5.a. USC will establish a publicly accessible online dashboard to track sustainability resource metrics by fiscal year 2023.

4.5.b. USC will publish annual reports on operational sustainability goals progress within six months of the close of each fiscal year.

4.5.c. USC will incorporate sustainability criteria into operations performance reviews by fiscal year 2024.

5. Engagement

5.1. Achieve STARS Gold by 2025 and STARS Platinum by 2028 by engaging all departments, schools, and students on their role in advancing sustainability at USC, and empowering them to take actions that support Assignment: Earth.

5.2. Achieve a university culture of sustainability by 2028, defined as 80% of students, faculty, and staff demonstrating an understanding of sustainability and perceiving USC as having a culture that cultivates sustainability.

5.3. Achieve university-wide practice of sustainability behaviors by 2028, defined as an average of 80% of students, faculty, and staff self-reporting engagement in various behaviors “usually” or “always.”