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Sustainability is the primary mission

Sustainability is the primary mission of all higher education, our investment in people, society, knowledge, and the skills to build and maintain a better society in harmony with the earth. Foothill College has invested in sustainability through our clean energy infrastructure, new LEED buildings, our emerging campus energy management system, and onsite water monitoring. Energy and water are central to our infrastructure investments, to reduce costs, GHGs, and preserve precious and dwindling supplies of water.

Foothill College has signed onto the President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and completed a GHG audit and Climate Action Plan (CAP). We have:

  • installed (over the past 5 years) almost 1.5 MW of solar PV, reducing our imported energy by almost 2 million kWh a year and GHGs by 1000 tons (CO2)
  • cogenerate 25% of our electricity, heating our pools with exhaust heat
  • active water monitoring and goals to reduce water use by 15 to 20% over the next few years.

Our sustainability program has grown from a campus sustainability committee, with plans to help develop and coordinate curriculum across the campus. We have begun plans for this sustainability certificate with a draft that includes five courses across environment, biology, political economics and sociology, GIS, and physics.


  • Resource management
  • New and renewable materials
  • Water
  • Energy sources & performance
  • Policy and decision-making
  • Education and outreach

Sustainability Degree

  • GEOG 5: Intro to Economic Geography (4 units)
  • POLI 9 or POLI 9H: Political Economy (4 units)
  • Interdisciplinary Bio/Physics: Cooking the Earth (5 units)
  • ENGR 39: Energy, Society & Environment (5 units)
  • BIOL 9 & BIOL 9L: Environmental Biology (5 units)

Potential majors

Applied Economics Regional Planning/GIS
Architecture Facility Planning
Power Engineering Entrepreneurship
General Engineering Applied Economics & Policy
Biology & Society Smart Grids
Law & Public Policy Natural Resources

New Ways of Thinking

Sustainability Curriculum Map


  • Campus as a living laboratory
    • Energy Analysis of new Physical Sciences and Engineering Center
    • ITRON Interval Data Analysis
    • Air conditioning cooling tower water capture and rainwater capture
    Campus as a lab
    Campus as a living laboratory
  • Resource management: new material cycles, recycling technologies, waste as resource, reuse of products
  • New and renewable materials: biopolymers and other materials inspired by nature, intelligent materials
  • Water: supply issues, treatment technologies, recycling technologies, consumption patterns, new technologies
  • Energy sources & performance: solar photovoltaic and thermal, wind, geothermal, biomass, biofuel
  • Policy and decision-making: sustainable methods, sustainability indicators life cycle assessment, role and impact of policy and regulations
  • Education and outreach: teaching new disciplines and teachers via KCI

Service Learning

  • Political engagement
  • Social activism / environmental awareness
  • Environmental justice
  • Energy work
    • Home and business audits
    • Efficiency remediation
  • Water awareness
    • Water use (audits) efficiency, conservation

Sustainability Center

  • Next evolution of sustainability committee
  • Advancing beyond environmental
    • Energy and climate
    • Global food security
    • Personal nutrition / food networks
    • Water use (global water trends)
    • Population connection
    • Sustainable business models
    • Indigenous sustainability models / curriculum
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