Talloires Declaration

10 Point Action Plan

Composed in 1990 at an international conference in Talloires, France, the declaration is the first official statement made by university administrators of a commitment to environmental sustainability in higher education. The Talloires Declaration (TD) is a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities. It has been signed by over 300 university presidents and chancellors in over 40 countries (Source: University Leaders for a Sustainable Future).

In April 2004, President Baker signed the Talloires Declaration, a 10-point action plan. This plan commits Cal Poly to sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, theory, and practice. Additionally, the university atmosphere may be as important as the curriculum and Cal Poly is fostering a culture of sustainability that encompasses its operations and relations with external stakeholders. While not an exhaustive list, the following illustrates the momentum at Cal Poly on meeting the goals outlined in each of the Talloires Declaration’s 10 points.

Universities have a major role in the education, research, policy formation, and information exchange necessary to make these goals possible. Thus, university leaders must initiate and support mobilization of internal and external resources so that their institutions respond to this urgent challenge.

We, therefore, agree to take the following actions:

1) Increase Awareness of Environmentally Sustainable Development
In January, the Campus participated in Focus the Nation 2008. With leadership and organization from students, Cal Poly hosted one of the largest Focus the Nation events in the country on climate change solutions. Nearly 5,000 students, over 200 faculty, staff, and administrators, and numerous local, state, and national politicians and community members attended the day-long teach-in on climate change solutions and political activism.

February 23, 2008, over 80 faculty, students, administrators, staff, and external stakeholders participated in a day long Sustainability by Design Retreat. Five action items emerged that encompass the student experience, educational and experiential opportunities, faculty development, and institutional support. The campus has made progress on these action items.

2) Create an Institutional Culture of Sustainability
In 2008, the University adopted a new mission statement that includes a commitment to valuing "free inquiry, cultural and intellectual diversity, mutual respect, civic engagement, and social and environmental responsibility." One of the seven University-level learning objectives addresses sustainability in that all students who graduate from Cal Poly should be able to "Make reasoned decisions based on an understanding of ethics, a respect for diversity, and an awareness of issues related to sustainability." Sustainability has been an overarching theme during the WASC self-study and Strategic Planning processes.

3) Educate for Environmentally Responsible Citizenship
At Cal Poly, literacy in sustainability begins with a student’s first on-campus experience. The summer programs planning committees for freshman summer preparation, and freshmen orientation week developed presentations to educate new students and invite them into a culture of sustainability.

During their coursework, Students may elect to fulfill general education and major requirements by enrolling in courses that focus in sustainability. Over 170 courses are available to students in a variety of departments and may be viewed online at For students wishing to specialize in a specific aspect of sustainability, there are currently five minors that explore concepts of sustainability from various perspectives: Sustainable Environments, Environmental Studies, Sustainable Agriculture, Anthropology-Geography, and Values, Technology and Society.

4) Foster Environmental Literacy For All
The Academic Senate Sustainability Committee is developing sustainability learning objectives that will be submitted to the Academic Senate for approval in 2009. These learning objectives will be used to assess student literacy in sustainability. The Academic Senate Sustainability Committee and the Center for Teaching and Learning offer support to faculty who wish to incorporate sustainability into their courses.

5) Practice Institutional Ecology
Cal Poly has taken significant steps to reduce its environmental footprint. The University has appointed a full time Sustainability Manager in Facility Services, in addition to a Sustainability Coordinator in Facilities Planning. A campus wide energy audit was completed in 2008 with Chevron Energy Solutions. This resulted in contracts for approximately $5.5M worth of energy conservation measures to be constructed, including HVAC upgrades, lighting retrofits, and water conservation measures. This project is expected to reduce the campus' energy consumption by almost 5%, and will save over 8 million gallons of water per year. Cal Poly is performing feasibility studies for generation of renewable energy including solar PV, wind, and biomass, with plans for on-site generation of 25% of the campus' total electrical energy use and is working with third parties contractors to implement these plans.

2008 saw the completion of Phase I of the Poly Canyon Village housing project, providing on-campus housing for almost 1,500 students in state of the art, energy efficient student apartments. When complete in fall of 2009, a total of 2,700 students will live in this LEED Certified complex, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of students commuting to and from campus. As a testament to its campus wide operation, maintenance and environmental stewardship practices, Facility Services has received LEED Silver Certification for the Faculty Offices East Building from the US Green Building Council. Plans are under way to certify an existing campus building every three years.

6) Involve All Stakeholders
Cal Poly has reached out to others interested in learning how to contribute to a sustainable future. Cal Poly hosted the statewide 2008 UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference, attended by some 1,100 people. At this conference Cal Poly received three Sustainability Best Practice awards for Most Innovative Waste Reduction Program, Best HVAC Design for new construction, and Best Overall Sustainable Design for the new Bonderson Project Center. The Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly partnered with SustainCommWorld in 2008 and 2009 to host the Business of Green Media Conference at Cal Poly. Cal Poly also hosted the 2008 Fall Workshop for the West Coast Region of Engineers Without Borders.

7) Collaborate for Interdisciplinary Approaches
Several of the UNIV courses (university-level, co-taught by faculty from different colleges) address a wide range of sustainability issues. Numerous senior projects and courses reach across academic disciplines to engage students in learn-by doing projects that address issues of sustainability and of meeting the needs of those less fortunate. Students can work on the Organic Farm or take part in other activities sponsored by the Sustainable Agriculture Research Consortium or the Center for Sustainability in Engineering.

8) Enhance Capacity of Primary and Secondary Schools
As part of the Sustainable Agriculture Resource Consortium, the Organic Garden hosts weekly tours and a children’s garden for K-6th grade students during the growing season. The program is headed by an Americorp volunteer and funded by the California Association of Nursery and Garden Centers.

9) Broaden Service and Outreach Nationally and Internationally
Empower Poly Coalition serves as the center for student engagement and unifies the voice of over 24 sustainability-related clubs and groups on campus. These include the BioDiesel Club, Fair Trade Club, Hydrogen Energy Club, Poly Greens, Renewable Energy Club, Engineers Without Borders, Green Employment and Net Impact. These clubs and other co-curricular activities focus on sustainability and provide students with opportunities to interact with off-campus stakeholders on far-reaching projects.

10) Maintain the Movement
Cal Poly became the 13th California campus to found a chapter of the Alliance to Save Energy's "Green Campus Program", which employs student interns to perform educational outreach about energy and sustainability, as well as developing and implementing energy and water conservation projects. The Cal Poly Green Campus Chapter won the award for "Most Innovative Green Campus Project" for their campaign to require the Student Recreation Center Renovation Project be LEED Certified.

The Academic Senate Sustainability Committee was established in 2006, with the task of “informing and supporting the activities of other committees whose scope encompasses environmental responsibility. The Sustainability Committee makes recommendations to the Academic Senate, as appropriate, regarding the provisions of the Talloires Declaration.” The Committee has supported numerous sustainability activities on campus, including the Sustainability by Design Retreat and Focus the Nation.

It is easy to see why campus constituents unofficially considered 2008 Cal Poly’s Year of Sustainability. To top off the year, our efforts were recognized for leadership in sustainability by the National Wildlife Federation, and the College Sustainability Scorecard. Join Cal Poly as we grow into a leader of sustainability education and experience.