SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly has won four awards — three best practice awards and an honorable mention for its sustainability programs in food systems, student leadership, innovations and waste reduction — in the 2017 Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practice Awards Competition.

The competition, hosted by the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC), recognizes California universities that demonstrate effective energy efficiency projects and innovative sustainability practices in operations and academics.

Cal Poly’s Campus Dining received a Best Practice Award in the Sustainable Food Systems category for its food sustainability program to reduce Cal Poly’s overall ecological “foodprint.” The program aimed to increase food sustainability through procurement, production and waste practices, build partnerships across the campus and employ community outreach and education to promote food sustainability.

The student-run Cal Poly Green Campus Program received a Best Practice Award in the Student Sustainability Leadership category for the initiative Inspiring Action Early: 2016 Student Sustainability Leadership Summit. The two-day summit at the beginning of the school year educated student club leaders on organizational strategies to inspire their peers to get involved, improve coordination and communication, and be more impactful in program planning and implementation.

The Cal Poly solar farm project received a Best Practice Award in the Sustainability Innovations category for representing a creative solution for large-scale renewables. The solar farm, situated on a sheep pasture, will also foster research opportunities for students in the university’s Animal Science Department.

“The solar farm will provide a unique, hands-on opportunity for animal science students to learn best practices related to managing the vegetation of solar farms using herd management techniques,” said Jaymie Noland, head of the Animal Science Department. “We are proud to partner in this sustainability effort that will benefit all Cal Poly students well into the future.”

Cal Poly’s Zero Waste Collaborative received an Honorable Mention in the Innovative Waste Reduction category for its Cooperation Makes it Happen initiative. Cal Poly developed a long- term collaborative partnership with Waste Connections, its waste hauler, to establish an innovative compensation structure that provides incentives to drive meaningful progress toward Zero Waste.

“There is so much great work in sustainability and energy efficiency happening across our campus,” said Dennis Elliot, director of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability at Cal Poly. “It is an honor to be recognized for these worthwhile efforts, and it reinforces Cal Poly’s commitment to environmental leadership.”

Award contributors will be presenting their projects at CHESC on June 27-28 at UC Santa Barbara. A group of Cal Poly faculty will also be presenting their sustainability research at the conference. For more information on the conference, visit