September 14, 2023 – In a strong commitment to fostering sustainability throughout its campus, the University of Southern California (USC) recently marked a historic milestone with the inauguration of its first-ever Sustainability Hub. The 1,500-square-foot hub located within the Gwynn Wilson Student Union building at the heart of USC’s University Park Campus serves as a collaborative, inclusive and multiuse gathering space for students, researchers and staff focused on advancing sustainability-driven solutions and initiatives at USC.
The Sustainability Hub will also function as the new headquarters for Assignment: Earth, USC’s comprehensive “sustainability framework” aimed at cultivating a healthy, just, and thriving campus and world. This framework was collaboratively crafted by the USC Presidential Working Group (PWG) on Sustainability in Education, Research, and Operations, in conjunction with various university teams.
Speaking about the Sustainability Hub, Mick Dalrymple, Chief Sustainability Officer, USC, stated, “From the beginning, Assignment: Earth was meant to be not about creating a silo of sustainability but about integrating sustainability into everything we do. This is about interdisciplinary working together towards solutions.”
Built with sustainable materials, the Sustainability Hub features Zoom and two-person meeting pods, open collaboration space, a shared kitchen and a lost-and-found composed of items collected from around campus which, instead of ending up in landfills, can be taken home by students free of cost.
USC President Carol L. Folt shared her vision for the Sustainability Hub, stating, “The Hub – USC’s newest accomplishment in navigating climate change will operate as a location for solutions-based events and conversations, uniting those who care about creating a sustainable, livable planet where we meet the needs of all people.”
With the capacity and resources to create substantive change and a new space designed to inspire future leaders of campus sustainability, Folt added, “At USC, one of the world’s greatest leading research universities, we have the potential and the passion powered by our beautiful Trojan family to make great advances at speeds we’ve never before considered.”
In recent months, USC has made substantial progress towards its Assignment: Earth goals by launching a solar energy project, scheduled to install solar panels on graduate student housing starting in July. This initiative is expected to contribute 64 megawatts of energy annually, which is equivalent to the emissions from cars traveling approximately 116,620 miles each year. USC has also eliminated single-use plastic beverage bottles on campus, resulting in more than 1.5 million of them to date being saved from landfills.
The results of the USC 2023 Sustainability Literacy, Behavior, and Cultural Survey revealed a 2% increase in sustainability literacy compared to 2022. Over 75% of respondents expressed an interest in learning more about sustainability practices, and more than 50% of those surveyed indicated that they consistently make efforts to reduce their environmental footprint.
The Sustainability Hub represents both a physical and symbolic space where diverse ideas and expertise from all academic disciplines converge. It actively seeks solutions that will pave the way for innovative green businesses, progressive policies, and novel health solutions. This collective endeavor reflects USC’s unwavering commitment to taking urgent action for a sustainable future.
USC has established recognized expertise and leadership in sustainability, including academic and research programs that train future generations and develop innovative solutions that make a tangible global impact. The university offers 1,200 sustainability-focused or -inclusive courses and has 11 research centers, programs, and institutes dedicated to sustainability research.