Celina Oseguera and Nina Doering
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This is the third in a continuing series about the Cal Poly Master Plan. Read the first here and the second here.

The Master Plan is a long-term plan Cal Poly must update and have approved by the California State University Board of Trustees. The most recent update to the plan includes changes the university wants to see in the next 20 years, setting guidelines for the campus’ physical development.

The Master Plan has the following goals:

  1. Phase growth north     
  2. Modal shift
  3. Environmental sustainability
  4. Enhanced Learn By Doing
  5. More students living on campus
  6. A compact, cross-disciplinary academic campus core
  7. More diverse students, faculty and staff/more vibrant evening and weekend activity

One by one, Mustang News will break down these goals and their affects on students, faculty and the community.

Goal three: Environmental sustainability

Cal Poly’s newly updated Drought Response Plan calls for the university to cut down its water use by 25 percent for the sake of sustainability and as a response to the California drought.

According to Interim University Planning Officer Linda Dalton, the Master Plan has just as much emphasis on sustainability.

The Master Plan has one main way to encourage sustainability at the university — get more students,  faculty and staff living on campus.

How does living on campus promote sustainability? One word. Actually, one acronym.


LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it is a status given to buildings that are resource-efficient and cost-effective. Essentially, they are green and environmentally friendly. LEED has different levels to show a building’s resource efficiency. Certification levels — from lowest to highest — are Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Living in these proposed facilities would benefit the environment more than other non-LEED-certified living facilities around San Luis Obispo, Dalton said.

“Students living out in the community, they may be living where there is old plumbing,” Dalton said. “Who knows how their heating and electricity occur.”

Poly Canyon Village is the only LEED-certified campus housing facility. It is LEED Gold certified.

According to the Cal Poly Sustainability Report, future campus housing will strive for LEED Gold certification as well. This includes housing proposed in the Master Plan.

For a building to be LEED Gold certified, it must achieve 60-79 of the 110 possible points within six different categories, specified below.

LEED final

Having students, faculty and staff living on campus would also reduce greenhouse gases emitted from cars, since they would not be driving to and from campus every day.

“Trip reduction and greenhouse gas reductions associated with coming to and from is significant (in reducing greenhouse gas emissions),” architecture lecturer Mary White said.

Though Dalton and White both agreed living on campus would be the best way to promote sustainability, Dalton said some students are still against living on campus past their freshmen year.

“They see it as much freer to live off campus,” Dalton said.

Anyone can address their concerns and opinions about the Master Plan to the university through the Master Plan contact page. The university will accept comments until the end of the quarter. 

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