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Annual Sustainability Report

Each year, Caltech's Sustainability Office issues an annual report reviewing the Institute's progress toward enhancing campus sustainability. Progress in the six main sustainability focus areas of energy, water, materials, built environment, mobility, and emissions are chronicled in each year's report.

From the Chief Sustainability Officer

Progress on Caltech's sustainability initiatives continued, but the theme for 2022 centered on change, both unanticipated and evolving. While short-term challenges and ongoing volatility contributed to unanticipated change, the foundational elements of the program's evolution could prove transformational.

For the better part of 2022, the cogeneration plant suffered from unplanned downtime leading to a reversal of electricity generation trends, increasing costs and shifting our emissions portfolio. The timing of this downtime coincided with natural gas price volatility and the steady return to full, post-pandemic campus operations, causing uneven performance. While the changes in energy and emissions initiatives were unanticipated, the significant challenges in materials, waste, and recycling followed familiar trends. Global recycling and commodities markets, a continued tendency toward single use items, and staffing challenges confounded efforts to increase diversion rates.

Encouragingly, the fundamentals for continued progress remain sound and will be bolstered by significant milestones either achieved or set in motion in 2022. The completion of the cooling tower upgrade project and ongoing planning for water resiliency will produce long-term results for campus utilities. The green labs program grew from pilot to established program during the year setting the stage for improvements in recycling and resource efficiency. Headlining the year was the elevation of the Sustainability Council and a renewed focus on campus-wide strategic planning for the next decade of transformational progress.

We are pleased to share our progress in this report and are excited by the prospects for 2023 and beyond.

John Onderdonk; Assistant VP of Facilities Operations and Services, Chief Sustainability Officer