Sonoma State University to sign landmark commitment to sustainability

March 19, 2019

(Rohnert Park) – Building on the work of many who helped make the university a leader in sustainability, Sonoma State next month will commit itself to meeting the highest of standards for sustainability and resilience among universities nationwide.

On April 5, President Judy K. Sakaki will sign "the President's Climate Leadership Commitment," a comprehensive roadmap for mitigating and adapting to a changing climate by reducing carbon emissions as well as "integrating sustainability into education curriculum, expanding research efforts and public reporting and creating and revising an action plan."

The signing will take place at the beginning of the 14th Annual Sustainable Enterprise Conference to be held at Sonoma State. More than 300 educational, business, government and community leaders from throughout the North Bay are expected to attend the one-day conference, which this year will focus on "pathways to economic, social and environmental resilience."

Both the Academic Senate and the Associated Students at Sonoma State have voted to support the decision by the president to sign the Climate Leadership Commitment, first adopted by 12 universities in 2006 in partnership with Boston-based nonprofit Second Nature. Since then, many other institutions of higher education have signed on to the commitment.

"I am excited and proud that we are making a campus-wide commitment to become an even ‘greener’ campus,” said Sakaki. “We are on our way to becoming a national model for sustainable practices, and we are doing it together.”

Under the principles of the agreement, the university will be committing to adopting a Climate Action Plan that calls for achieving carbon neutrality for electricity-powered campus operations by 2045, as already required under SB100, which then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last year. The commitment calls for integrating sustainability and resilience into curriculum and research. The university also will be committing to self-identified target dates including completing a baseline inventory of Sonoma State's carbon footprint by year one and writing a Climate Action Plan by year three that includes committing to a date for achieving complete carbon neutrality.

“Students at Sonoma State have long engaged in sustainability efforts on campus, both for the financial benefits and the health of the natural systems and communities we stand to inherit," said Carley Chatterley, president of Associated Students at Sonoma State. "We are proud that our own university is stepping up its leadership in this critical area with the signing of the President’s Climate Leadership Commitment.”

Joyce Lopes, Vice President for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer at Sonoma State, said that the university making the decision to raise the bar on sustainability would not have happened without the support of students, faculty and staff on campus.

"They are committed to moving our sustainability values forward," she said. "I look forward to working with these terrific leaders towards fulfilling this commitment."

The signing ceremony will take place at 8:30 a.m. in Seawolf Plaza outside the SSU Student Center. Coffee and refreshments will be served. The conference will begin immediately following. Speakers during the day will include state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa; Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore; Elizabeth Brown, President of the Sonoma County Foundation; Dr. Greg Sarris, SSU Professor and Tribal Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria; and Dr. Richard Heinberg, author and senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute in Corvallis, Ore.

Panels, workshops, and topics of discussion during the day include:

  • Building resilience in a fire-prone landscape
  • What is Sonoma State already doing to be a leader in resilience and climate education?
  • Equity issues in the North Bay
  • The Green New Deal: A 10-year plan to mobilize society to protect the environment, patterned in part on Roosevelt’s New Deal
  • And Government leadership: What cities and counties are doing to build resilience

In addition to Sonoma State University, conference sponsors include the North Bay Business Journal, Belfor Disaster Recovery, Alliant Insurance, Traditional Medicinals, Sonoma Clean Power, Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), Hello Alice, West Coast Solar, CSAA Insurance, Friends of SMART, California Community Lender, Westcoast Solar Energy, Ygrene Energy, Trope Group, Beneficial State Bank, Taylor Engineering, Truebeck Construction, Sonoma Sustainable Tourism, Sonoma Raceway and VenturePad Marin. For registration and more information, go to

ABOUT US: With a student population of 9,200, Sonoma State is a regionally serving public university committed to educational access and excellence. Guided by our core values and driven by a commitment to the liberal arts and sciences, Sonoma State delivers high-quality education through innovative programs that leverage the economic, cultural and natural resources of the North Bay. See more news from SSU at  

Media Contact

Paul Gullixson