Public Affairs

California State University Wins National Award for "Chilling Out"

The National Wildlife Federation recognizes the Cal State system and campuses for reducing carbon emissions and combating global warming.

(April 15, 2009) –The California State University (CSU) system and two CSU campuses are being nationally honored for pioneering energy efficiency measures and creative campus solutions to global warming.

The CSU system, Humboldt State University and CSU Northridge each won an award through the annual Chill Out: Campus Solutions to Global Warming competition, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). The announcement is being made today via webcast at

The webcast will feature an all-star cast of students, faculty and staff from the winning campuses and a broad range of advocates and activists in today’s environmental movement, including Nobel Laureate and former Vice President, Al Gore.

"This competition and the creativity it represents will be a key part of how we can create a better world: a world with a vibrant, sustainable economy and a healthy earth for all future generations," said Gore.

The CSU is being recognized for a partnership with the state of California and SunEdison to bring 8 megawatts of solar power to university campuses. Two-thirds of the CSU’s 23 campuses, spread throughout the state, are participating in this agreement. 

Humboldt State is being honored for making alternative transportation a viable option on its campus through the free "Jack Pass." This pass provides for an unlimited number of bus rides for all campus students.

CSUN is being celebrated for maintaining the largest fuel cell power plant of any university in the world. The ultra-clean, 1-megawatt plant generates 18% of the campus’s electricity while producing nearly zero particulate emissions.

"The CSU has reduced its carbon footprint by investing in energy-efficiency and green power production while adopting common sense practices," said Len Pettis, CSU chief of plant, energy and utilities. "As the nation’s largest public university, charged with educating the workforce of the future, the CSU is proud to lead the way in promoting and preserving a sustainable environment."

The CSU system and campuses will be recognized among a group of eight institutions of higher learning throughout the United States.

"It is an honor to recognize these colleges and universities for their climate stewardship and we applaud the students, faculty and administration for their desire to create a healthier planet," said Julian Keniry, NWF director of campus and community leadership. "By combating global emissions, we conserve resources and save money all at the same time."


About the Winning CSU Initiatives

The California State University system: The state of California is working with the CSU and energy provider SunEdison to bring affordable solar power to 15 public university campuses and numerous other state buildings. The CSU installations will combine to yield 8 megawatts in zero-emissions, solar photovoltaic power capacity. Clean power production from these solar arrays will cut carbon dioxide at a level equivalent to removing almost 50,000 cars from the road over the life of the energy contract.

Humboldt State University: HSU has made alternative transportation a viable option. One of the university's most helpful and innovative projects is the "Jack Pass," an unlimited-ride bus pass for all Humboldt students. Since implementing Jack Pass, the Redwood Transit Service announced a 30% increase in ridership, which translates to huge reductions in the entire county's carbon footprint. After the introduction of the Jack Pass, 526 fewer parking permits were sold on the campus, eliminating the need to construct a new multilevel parking structure.

California State University, Northridge: CSUN has a one megawatt fuel cell power plant – the largest such installation at any university in the world. The ultra-clean plant produces 18% of the campus’s electricity, and simultaneously eliminates associated heating, cooling, and maintenance costs. Because fuel cell technology is combustion-free, it produces nearly zero particulate emissions. Energy performance gains made possible by the fuel cell installation will also save operational expenses and dramatically reduce the campus’s environmental impact. The campus is also experimenting with carbon sequestering methods, such as a plant area known as the "rainforest" to absorb waste carbon dioxide.