LA Community Colleges Vows to Eliminate Carbon Footprint by 2040

The Los Angeles Community College District has vowed to eliminate its carbon footprint entirely over the next two decades. Trustees approved a "Clean Energy and Sustainability resolution" that committed the district to invest millions towards energy efficiency and sustainability projects; and implement a "vision plan" for 2040 that includes creation of a district-wide organization focused on sustainability.

The district, the largest in the country, encompasses nine colleges currently educating about 250,000 students.

The LACCD resolution calls for the district to eliminate its use of carbon-based electricity consumption by 2030 and all other carbon-based energy use by 2040, replacing it with "clean, renewable and/or sustainable energy sources." Those are even more ambitious than international and state energy goals. For example, California's "100 Percent Clean Energy Act of 2018" requires utilities by the end of 2030 to increase their purchase of renewable energy such that at 50 percent comes from renewable energy and to be at 100 percent by the end of 2045.

The resolution specifically calls for LACCD to:

  • Invest $75 million towards energy efficiency and sustainability projects, programs and jobs that will help the district achieve the resolution’s goals. That could include an increase in the amount of on-site electric energy generation as well as energy storage projects;
  • Develop and implement a "sustainability vision 2040 plan" to achieve a 100-percent carbon-free energy goal by 2040;
  • Create a new unit and jobs to focus on developing and implementing the plan; positions might include: a chief sustainability officer, coordinators, analysts and student interns.

Among the commitments on the table are the conversation of a quarter of existing parking stalls to zero-emission vehicles; installation of electric-vehicle chargers at the district's colleges and facilities; an increase in recycling and composting; elimination of single-use plastics; and storm-water capture and groundwater recharge projects.

According to Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez, achieving the new goals would not only benefit the colleges but also the surrounding communities and expand educational opportunities for students.

"Our District is clear in our vision to provide the education and training necessary to address workforce demands and meet employers’ needs of a clean energy and green future," Rodriguez said in a statement. "This District is uniquely positioned to adapt and expand its existing career education programs for students for future jobs and to integrate new and emerging green technologies to achieve our carbon independence."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.