The refrain that USC isn’t the most environmentally friendly campus has been beaten to death. Our facilities are not swathed in solar paneling and we don’t have wind turbines powering our dining hall kitchens.
But there has been a respectable amount of progress in sustainability at USC in the last year.
And even though the school year is in its final weeks, the USC administration hasn’t slowed its efforts to make the school competitive with other universities in advancing “green” initiatives. USC Housing and Sustainability are pioneering a number of efforts to make the fall semester even greener. They also seem to be making it easy for students in particular to live more sustainable lifestyles. So to get the most out of the progress those departments are making, students need to expand their dialogue with the administration to ensure we’re all on the same page.
USC Housing is finally beginning to more seriously explore overhauling existing campus buildings to make them LEED-certified.
As a veteran of Trojan Hall’s leaky faucets, temperamental light fixtures and non-existent air-conditioning, I’m only sad this step wasn’t taken when I was a freshman. (Note: LEED-certifying a dorm does not equal air-conditioning. It does, however, promise “strategies that can improve indoor air,” according to the U.S. Green Building Council. So we can at least entertain the possibility of quality air before we grudgingly return to our $19.99 Best Buy fans.)
The university would likely absorb the cost of such an overhaul, meaning students wouldn’t have to pay extra for the upgrade.
The LEED research is just one of the ways the USC administration has kept students in mind. Various water-saving techniques have also been implemented in the residential areas on and around campus, including in the bathrooms and laundry rooms.
And USC Housing has seen to it we won’t have to go far to recycle discarded paperwork and short-lived appliances that have been piling up behind our desks since August, when most of us are packing to leave our dorms and apartments in May.
Starting May 6, it will provide recycling bins for university-owned residential buildings.
Though it will be more than a year before the final decisions are made about additional LEED innovations on campus, the research is being done now. This time next year, we could be leaving a campus environmental advocates and concerned students alike are finding it a lot harder to criticize.
Numerous polls and interviews have shown students are interested in improving sustainability around campus. Now we need to make it clear exactly what kind of progress we want to keep seeing.
If you believe clean energy is what this campus needs, check out USC Beyond Coal. Want to help clean up the trash around Southern California? Try CalPIRG. Write letters to USC Sustainability. Write letters to a newspaper.
The administration has shown during the course of the last year that it’s ready to respond to us — let’s make sure students do their part to keep the (clean) energy going.
Kastalia Medrano is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism and an associate managing editor for the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Green Piece,” ran Tuesdays.