Sustainability 2020 Plan Updates

2020 Plan Progress Report (PDF) (updated January 2019)



Update April 2019

Water Conservation

The water metering project that will bring sub-meters to UPC campus will be implemented on the following revised schedule:

Phase 1: Summer 2019 = Approximately 17 sub-meters

Phase 2: TBD 2019 = Approximately 20+ sub-meters

Education & Research

On April 22,  USC launched its newest sustainability research center. The Center for Sustainability Solutions is a university-wide center that leverages and enhances USC’s existing sustainability-related teaching, research, and outreach. Its unique mission is to advance the application of basic science and technological solutions to specific urban contexts, with an eye on developing practical solutions and sound public policy for a sustainable and equitable future. The Center’s first research ‘rapid-assessment’ study can be found here.


Update January 2019

Education & Research

This year, the USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health has been working with the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti  and other partners on the application of the UN global sustainability goals to homelessness and other “wicked” problems in the city of Los Angeles. The work of the Institute can be found at


Last fall, the Office of Sustainability worked with groups across campus to educate Trojans about waste diversion, as part of our TROJANS RECYCLE RIGHT initiative. Multi-channel efforts included:

  • The waste diversion campaigns “Separate, Don’t Contaminate” and “Stop Trash Before It Starts” were featured on over 50 digital screens in November and December, including:
    • 20 Housing and two Residential Dining locations
    • USC Bookstore
    • 12 ITS screens: KOH and WPH Computing Centers (two screens each), Leavey library (four screens), and Taper Hall (four screens)
    • 11 FMS screens: Norman Topping Tower, and the FPM, ZMT, VBB, CDF, and ADM buildings
    • Four Student Affairs screens: Sample Hall concierge desk, entrance column, 1st floor elevator landing, and 4th floor elevator landing; and TCC Plaza (near Seeds exit)
    • Between September and November, the Sustainability Office also ran a series of five Daily Trojan ads that featured recycling instructions and other waste diversion information:

















  • The Office of Sustainability team launched the Trojan Trash Talkers (TTT) campus tailgate recycling engagement program, and continued its successful partnership with the LA Coliseum to garner media coverage for the Trojan football “Green Game” in October. The Sustainability team also continued supporting the Coliseum Zero Waste program overall by submitting for multiple national collegiate sustainability competitions.

Energy Conservation

FMS has announced updates for the following 2020 Plan energy projects:

  • HVAC Automated Scheduling Software – Project is in-progress with 15 buildings and 242 classrooms already completed. The platform will be extended to an additional 259 classrooms. In one month alone, this project saved over 42,000 kWh.
  • LED Lighting Installation – The most recent project began in December 2018 at Popovich Hall (JKP), and projects are currently being reviewed at Lewis Hall (RGL). LED efforts will be done in coordination with RCx studies whenever possible, and will cover buildings throughout the campus.
  • Existing Building Retro-Commissioning (RCx) – The first two RCx and Energy Audit projects are being kicked off in January 2019 at Irani Hall (RRI) and the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA). This multi-building initiative is projected to include up to 150 buildings.


USC Transportation launched its new Mobility Hub last September. USC Transportation also reported reduced SOV numbers compared to 2014, completing USC’s Sustainability 2020 goals for the Sustainable Transportation category.

Drive alone Carpool Rail Walk Bike Bus EV
2014 56 % 6% 7% 3% 6% 0.12%
2018 49 % 10% 9% 12% 5% 7% 1%


Waste Diversion

As of this fall, 106 trash bins, 84 recycling bins, and 15 composting bins are located at UPC and USC Village to dispose of waste. In addition, the campus utilizes industrial equipment such as roll-offs and compactors to dispose of wood, cardboard, green waste, and solid waste. Between August 2018 and November 2018, USC disposed of approximately 2,402 tons of solid waste, 624 tons of recycling, and 109 tons of compost on campus. Our waste diversion rate, broken out by location, is as follows:

  • UPC (campus) – 46%
  • USC Village – 80%
  • USC Housing (off -campus) – 33%
  • CAL building – 86%
  • HSC – 10%

Also between August 2018 and November 2018, USC Dining facilities and Trader Joe’s participated in a food recovery program that enabled USC to divert 53.73 tons of food from landfill.

LA Memorial Coliseum Zero Waste Program

This fall, the Office of Sustainability continued to support the award-winning Coliseum Zero Waste program throughout the Trojans and Rams football seasons by overseeing vendor composting compliance, and assisting with facility waste diversion and reduction efforts.

  • Overall during the 2018 football season, 251.07 tons of Coliseum waste was hauled to date, with 227.89 tons diverted from landfill, for a seasonal diversion rate of 90.76%, and 12 of 15 games reaching Zero Waste status.
  • The season included an average 90.19% waste diversion rate for the USC Trojans, over 81 tons of waste being diverted from landfill and 4 of 6 games achieving Zero Waste status.
  • To date, a Rams average seasonal diversion rate of 91.58% has been achieved, with 8 of 9 games this season achieving Zero Waste status.
  • New this season, we achieved the goal of executing back-to-back consecutive Rams and Trojans Zero Waste games, introduced a food donation program, and used grease capture and diversion for reuse into biodiesel.

Water Conservation

The final recycled water piping sections along Childs Way (see picture and map below) were completed during 2018 winter break. When the City is scheduled to deliver recycled water to campus (ETA 2024), the University will complete the recycled water irrigation and cooling tower piping.













Update October 2018

Water Conservation

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 the 2020 Plan Goals 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 LED lighting retrofit, HVAC automation, and building retro-commissioning projects are funded and 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 waste diversion goal.
  • resources for USC Purchasing that will lay the groundwork for a comprehensive sustainable procurement program by 2020.

Water Conservation

Three approved water conservation proposals include:

  • a 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:
    • Phase 1: April 2019 = Approximately ten sub-meters
    • 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%.