A year of remarkable accomplishments on the road toward sustainability

Year in review: The year marked a number of milestones as USC continues its efforts to fight climate change starting at home.

December 24, 2021 David Medzerian

USC continued its journey to sustainability with a series of ambitious goals, an emphasis on sustainability in the curriculum and a variety of green accomplishments. Take a look at some of the important steps on the path to an environmentally friendly future.

? Committing to carbon neutrality

“We take on this challenge because as an institution of higher education, we are naturally compelled to serve — it’s in our DNA.”

Carol L. Folt, USC president

? Sustainability in dentistry

“With the health care industry, you have to make sure everything is clean and sterilized. My goal is to increase students’ education on sustainability with the hope that they will think about it at least a little bit more within the scope of their practice.”

Natalie Black, dental student and president of the sustainability group at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

? Using communication and technology to raise awareness

“We wanted to create something that could help with climate change. For both the caribou and permafrost, there is a direct connection with climate change.”

Rong Deng, master’s student at the USC School of Cinematic Arts

? A silver for sustainability

“A silver rating is higher than we were initially expecting and reflects the hard work that many members of our community have put in over the last few years.”

Mick Dalrymple, USC’s chief sustainability officer

? Keeping an eye on recycling

“Once we know how we’re doing, we can reinvest in educating people about what goes where.”

Josh Rebello, USC’s zero waste auditor

? Making a difference behind the scenes

“USC was virtually at ground zero in 2014. We didn’t have a chief sustainability officer. We didn’t have the kind of leadership that President [Carol L.] Folt is showing in this area. … Now, we’re rapidly catching up.”

Dan Mazmanian, chair of the Presidential Working Group on Sustainable Education, Research and Operations

? Leadership from the C-suite

“Mick Dalrymple’s experience at a large university and a complex organization positions him well to maximize and expand USC’s sustainability efforts. This position is a cornerstone to advance President Folt’s sustainability vision and galvanize the campus into action.”

— David Wright, USC senior vice president for administration

? Teaching sustainability in the classroom

“Every discipline will be affected. Students in art, engineering, dance, law, you name it; they are going to encounter some aspect of sustainability. Every discipline can add perspective and solutions to sustainability, which is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.”

Andrew McConnell Stott, vice provost for academic programs and dean of the USC Graduate School

? When you don’t need the big air conditioners

“We call those light load conditions. Say you just have a computer room and some back offices that need cooling. You don’t have to run the big chiller for that. This is going to save a lot of energy quickly.”

Craig Drown, energy services expert

? The difference one student can make

“I only saw my role, working in sustainability and doing all the different things that I did, as trying to be a vessel for this energy and this vibrancy about how important sustainability is that was already there among the students.”

Tianna Shaw-Wakeman, 2021 valedictorian

? A goal met

“This is very good news. We improved energy efficiency on campus, we reduced use of fertilizers, we reduced refrigerant leaks, we cut water use and more.”

Zelinda Welch, energy manager for USC Facilities Planning and Management

? A hush falls over the landscape

“Everybody hates leaf blowers, with the noise and fumes, but they’re an essential tool for a groundskeeper and they were taken away overnight. Replacing those with an eco-friendly, sustainable tool wasn’t easy.”

Erik Diaz, USC landscape supervisor

? A future free of fossil fuel investments

“We see this approach as a way to grow our portfolio and support clean, new technologies for the 21st century.”

Amy Diamond, USC’s chief investment officer

? Looking into the crystal ball

“I’m extraordinarily excited and bullish about sustainability at USC over the next five to 10 years, because we’re going to see a lot of changes. We’re really waking up to sustainability on our campus.”

Ellen Dux, associate director of the USC Office of Sustainability

USC 2021 | A LOOK BACK — See more of our year-end package: