Sustainability 2020 Plan Updates

Progress Reports (PDF)



Update October 2018

USC has decreased its overall water usage in HCF (hundred cubic feet) by 8% from fiscal/academic year 2014 to 2017. We have reduced our water consumption usage in gal/sf (gallons per square foot) by 5% from FY14 to FY17. This reduction can be attributed to end user behavior changes, installation of low-flow water fixtures, and other on-going conservation efforts.


We estimated that upgrading 8,000+ water fixtures across campus would reduce water usage 19% by 2020. Although USC Housing has replaced approx 6,800 old water fixtures, our water usage has not yet decreased to anticipated levels. Installation of the remaining 1,200 water fixtures in non-housing buildings will be completed by 2020.

The city’s recycled water project would have enabled USC to achieve our Sustainability 2020 25% reduction Goal; however, the project has been delayed until 2024. However, USC will complete the final two sections of the main line installation on UPC by January 2019 (see link below), and will begin piping to the cooling towers and field irrigation (schedule TBA).


Update August 2018

Recent progress on achieving our 2020 Plan include:

Education and Research

The new Center for Sustainability Solutions co-hosted its first event on August 23-24, Rethinking Water Management: A Data-Driven Future.

Energy Conservation

The university CFO funded the LED lighting retrofit, HVAC automation, and building retro-commissioning projects. FMS is hiring project managers and assembling implementation plans and schedules, which will be announced as they are finalized.


USC Transportation is launching a comprehensive mobility hub platform this fall that will meet the university’s Sustainability 2020 goals and enable travelers to plan alternative transportation from any point-A-to-point-B in Los Angeles.


In fall 2018, FMS, USC Housing, and USC Sustainability will launch Trojans Recycle Right, the first university-wide waste diversion engagement initiative to accompany the installation of hundreds of new recycling receptacles located in classroom buildings and in outdoor public spaces. The indoor bins are scheduled to be installed by the end of calendar year 2018. The outdoor recycling receptacles are scheduled to be installed by July 2019.

Water and energy engagement campaigns are planned for launch in spring 2019.

Update April 2018

University senior leadership has approved three 2020 Plan energy conservation projects for funding. When completed by 2020, these will exceed the 2020 Plan goal of a 20% reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions below 2014 levels. The three new projects are:

  • indoor/outdoor LED lighting retrofit
  • HVAC automation initiative
  • comprehensive energy efficiency recommissioning in select buildings

In the 2014-2017 USC Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Summary, prepared by Unlimited Carbon Assistance Network in February 2018, USC rated:

  • #2 of eight peer universities for emissions per 1,000 gross square foot (GSF) resulting from burning fuels or using chemicals (natural gas, boiler, refrigerants, etc.) and #1 of seven peer universities for emissions resulting from generating electricity
  • #2 of eight peer universities for net emissions per student FTE resulting from burning fuels or using chemicals, and #5 of seven peer universities for emissions resulted from generating electricity

Update April 2017

University senior leadership has approved five 2020 Plan projects for funding. These include:

  • three water conservation projects that, when completed by 2020, will meet or exceed the water conservation goals.
  • a comprehensive waste diversion plan that will meet the 2020 Plan goal
  • resources for USC Purchasing that will lay the groundwork for a comprehensive sustainable procurement program by 2020.

Water Conservation

The three approved water conservation proposals are:

  • water fixture upgrade project that will install approx. 8,000 water fixtures, estimated to be complete by end 2019
  • a water metering project that will bring 19 sub-meters to the UPC campus, providing a better profile of building types. The project will be implemented on the following schedule:
  1. Phase 1: April 2019 = Approximately ten sub-meters
  2. Phase 2: July 2019 = Approximately nine sub-meters
  • a recycled water project.  Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has delayed its targeted start of construction of the Downtown Water Recycling Project (WRP) which will provide a source of recycled water for the University campus via approximately 10 miles of new pipe that will connect to the University Park Campus at Exposition and Watt Way.  Construction is scheduled to begin in 2021 and estimated to be completed in 2024. Therefore, the USC Sustainability 2020 Plan project for installation of recycled water pipe to connect to the city infrastructure will be delayed until the LADWP project is completed. For more information on the recycled water infrastructure proposal, click here.

Waste Diversion

Funding has been approved for the 2020 Plan waste diversion project, which will be implemented as following:

  • Phase 1 (75 bins): USC Village to 34th St., west of Trousdale to Jefferson, Vermont on the east and Downey on the south – COMPLETE
  • Phase 2 (95 bins): Beginning December 20, 2017 = Inside Exposition, Trousdale, Downey, Vermont – COMPLETE
  • Phase 3 (105 bins): Beginning September 1, 2018 = East of Trousdale to Figueroa, Jefferson and Exposition.
  • Phase 4 (100 bins): Beginning December 30, 2018 = Center campus between 34th, Downey, Trousdale and McClintock

Procurement Assessment

USC Business Services engaged a fixed-term Senior Procurement Specialist to assist with drafting a procurement sustainability policy, integration strategy, and benchmark sustainable surplus sales programs.  The specialist’s assessment was completed in the fall of 2017 and the program’s implementation phase is now being created. Sustainable purchasing programs will be implemented for paper, cleaning supplies, and janitorial paper in the first quarter of 2018. Programs for ink/toner, office supplies, electronics, and medical research supplies will be implemented later in 2018, TBD.

Food Procurement

USC Hospitality is trending at 33.7% sustainable food procurement. The 2020 Plan goal is 20%.