SCAQMD hails Cal State LA as a national leader in sustainability

Demonstration of zero-emission lawn equipment

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) lauded Cal State LA as a national leader for its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by using zero-emission groundskeeping equipment.

Agency board member Michael Cacciotti said the University is one of the first in the nation to rely on battery-operated electrical landscaping equipment. The weed-eaters, lawn mowers and chainsaws are used daily by Facilities Services personnel across the 176-acre campus.

Cacciotti spoke at an Aug. 30 news conference on the lawn in front of the University Gymnasium, where the equipment was displayed and demonstrated by Facilities Services staff. The equipment, he said, plays a key role in the SCAQMD's efforts to improve air quality across the region.

President William A. Covino welcomed guests to the event, noting that Cal State LA has launched a number of initiatives to contribute to a healthy and sustainable planet. The University's award-winning and cutting-edge Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility has been a leader in California's efforts to promote the use of zero-emission vehicles. Cal State LA reduced its water consumption last year by 31 percent, Covino said. He also joined more than 200 other college and university presidents in signing the White House American Campus Act on Climate Pledge.

"As a public university, Cal State LA must be a leader in this effort," Covino told the crowd gathered under a warm summer sun. "The issue of sustainability affects us all – where we live, work and play."

The University's use of the groundskeeping equipment was made possible by a grant from the SCAQMD. The American Green Zone Alliance assisted by training staff to operate the equipment. Troy Allen, the University’s director for strategic planning and quality improvement, helped oversee the effort.

During the demonstration, staff member Richard Valenzuela said he was initially skeptical of the equipment. He wasn't sure whether the chainsaws would have sufficient power to cut through thick tree trunks. Valenzuela said he quickly realized that the saw was efficient and reliable as he sliced through a palm tree.

"I was amazed at how much power it had," he said. "It worked really well."

Photo: Cal State LA lead grounds worker Richard Valenzuela demonstrates zero-emission lawn equipment. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

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Cal State LA is a university dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 27,000 students and 247,000 distinguished alumni, who are as diverse as the city we serve. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Cal State LA has long been recognized as an engine of economic and social mobility. Led by an award-winning faculty, the University offers nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and the humanities.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex, TV, Film and Media Center and the Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good. For more information, visit