Current Research and Grants

The Institute solicits internal and external funding to support its own activities and those of faculty in areas related to sustainability. We have secured internal funding for projects ranging from a campus tree inventory, the development of a Geographic Information System for the campus, the construction of portable solar charging trees by engineering students, the development of an educational garden and composting facility, air pollution research, an outdoor accessible classroom, and many more.

We support faculty research through coordinating collaborative multi-disciplinary grant proposals and providing grant administrative assistance. We have acquired funding to train K-12 teachers in energy and water resources and conservation, to assist businesses with sustainability, to conduct community outreach and education, and to support innovation and research in climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience.


    • NASA-JPL & CSUN College of Education: Empowering Educators to Address the Health of the Planet. The Institute has been partnering with College of Education faculty, Dr. Susan Belgrad and Dr. Norm Herr (Co-PI’s) on a NASA-funded project for the past year. We welcomed over 120 K-12 educators during the Summer STEM Institute in July 2018 and again this May for presentations and tours to acquire awareness of the strategies and techniques for engaging students in Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) - aligned environmental science and sustainability activities. The goal of these events was to demonstrate how K-12 schools across the state of California can apply many of the same activities, events, and initiatives as CSUN to prepare students.
    • Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI). This year, the Institute established a 4-year partnership with LACI to advance and promote energy and water conservation efforts on campus and in the community. We organized our annual Sustainability Day 2019 event in partnership with LACI, called “Successful Strategies for Addressing Energy and Transportation Issues in Disadvantaged Communities” which was open to the public. The Institute also created an expert directory to serve as a resource to identify faculty who are involved in climate change research on campus.
    • Metropolitan Water District (MWD): Irrigation Water Conservation Research. By 2023, CSUN set a goal to reduce water consumption by 15%. In an effort to meet this goal, the Institute, through a grant from the Metropolitan Water District, sought to determine the most effective and cost-efficient methods of conserving irrigation water. This study also helped the Institute understand how to increase water retention without compromising soil health. Preliminary results suggested that compost applications were more effective than hydrogel applications in maintaining grass and soil health, for retaining moisture, and for conserving irrigation water. Moreover, compost promotes biologically healthy soil by providing food for earthworms, soil insects, and beneficial microorganisms. 
    • California ReLeaf Social Equity. As a recipient of a 3-year California ReLeaf Social Equity grant in 2016, the Institute for Sustainability helped transform Vaughn Next Century Learning Center’s G3 campus, a public charter school in San Fernando, by planting 55 trees on the campus. In 2016, the Institute hosted a Tree Planting where over 200 community volunteers planted trees. Beyond reducing ambient air temperatures and direct sun exposure, the trees create a healthier environment for the children, staff and neighbors, and reduce health issues associated with poor air quality by filtering the air and water around the school. As the trees continue to grow and mature, their potential to reduce air pollutants and sequester carbon will increase, further increasing their impact. 
    • Campus as a Living Lab (CALL): Thanks in part to the Campus as a Living Lab Grant we received from the Chancellor’s Office, we were able to increase the amount of organic food grown at the garden and provide herbs such as cilantro, oregano and mint to CSUN Dining so the campus community is able to consume local produce. This project involved collaboration between the Marilyn Magaram Center (MMC), CSUN Dining, the Institute, and Facilities Planning in an effort to improve existing campus food production with the goal of educating students and providing healthy, local food options in campus dining facilities.
    • CSU Chancellor's Office Grant: Planting Seeds to Meet Basic Needs: The Institute received a Campus Community Garden grant from the Chancellor’s Office. Funds were used to enhance the Institute garden and provide resources and gardening education to CSUN’s students in need. Student assistants maintain the garden with dedicated volunteers, who receive service-learning credit. Each week, Institute and Food Pantry volunteers harvest food for students in need. This academic year, 548 pounds of produce were donated to the CSUN Food Pantry. The Pantry had 4,300 visits during that time. The produce we grow helps to supplement the nonperishable items and other food donations the CSUN Food Pantry distributes. Students can then learn to prepare the fresh produce on their own.
    • Campus Quality Fee: Sustainable Living Workshops. In 2018-19, the Institute received funding from Campus Quality Fee to host six Sustainable Living workshops to educate students on how to reduce their environmental impact on the earth. More information can be found on page 6 of the IS Magazine.


Commuting Report | Institute for Sustainability |  March 17, 2019

Commuting Report | Institute for Sustainability |  February 24, 2016

CSUN Climate Action Plan | Institute for Sustainability | January 15, 2016

Walking Guide to Campus Trees | Institute for Sustainability | January 2015

CSU and UC Greenhouse Gas Emissions | Helen Cox, Vladimir Arutyunov, and Jaime Teelin Hoffman | December 1, 2014

CSUN Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report, 1990 -2013 | Helen M. Cox and Mazyar Aram | December 1, 2014

CSUN Sustainability Plan | Institute for Sustainability | May 24, 2013

Housing Assessment | Best et al. | Report #4 | May 2012

Bicycle Report | D'Alfonso, Cordova, Toker, Cox & Yetter | Report #3 | May 2012

Energy Analysis 1990-2011 | Cox, Aram and Sullivan | Report #2 | April 2012

CSUN Tree Atlas | Institute for Sustainability | July 2011

Commuting Report | Michaud | Report #1 | December 2010