Campus Recreation Becomes Newest Gold Climate Champion

Written by the Campus Sustainability Office

Last month Campus Rec became the highest scoring Gold certified department since the Portland State Climate Champions program launched. With a near perfect score, Campus Rec is a role model for other departments at PSU to operate in an environmentally and socially-conscious manner. While their score itself is impressive, it is the story of sustainability at Campus Rec that is most compelling.


We touched base with Todd Bauch, Associate Director of Operations and Student Development for Campus Rec. When asked about the history and context of sustainability being integrated into the departments’ values, Todd explained that, when the Academic & Student Recreation Center was completed in 2010, staff recognized the opportunity and motivation that being located in a LEED certified building provides.

“Sustainability is a dynamic topic for our department. It has environmental, economic and social components. The intersections of these three areas are very nuanced as well, so it is easy for us to say that there is a sustainable decision in every action we take. This is intimidating at times. We have had to learn to navigate the questions that used to stop us in our tracks.”

This desire to fully realize their departmental values and goals has led to a variety of innovative programs, partnerships, and priorities. For example, Campus Rec is a partner to the PSU EcoReps program, which has spurred work on green cleaning and zero waste events. Another area of focus is equipment, which provides a unique challenge for all fitness centers because it is often material-intensive and machines require energy to operate. With equipment, staff applies life cycle thinking, from manufacturing and delivery, through use, end of life (or potential second life), and disposal.

“Once you have weight equipment it can last a very long time when it is cared for. Cardio equipment, on the other hand, has higher energy and maintenance needs. This year, we are excited to try a new treadmill that is engineered to operate without electricity. Because of its design, there is no need for a motor to propel the running belt - it is self-sustained! We hope that people will enjoy their user experience and realize that the sustainable aspects compliment our values,” explained Todd.

Beyond taking action to reduce their environmental footprint, social sustainability has been and continues to be a strong component of Campus Rec and their activities. In fact, they have shared best practices nationally through their professional association, NIRSA, Leaders in Collegiate Recreation. From ensuring that equipment and cleaning chemicals are safe for staff and members, to offering inclusive programming that welcomes everyone in their space, this work can be seen and felt at Campus Rec.

More information about PSU Campus Rec is available online. If you work for a department at PSU, join Campus Rec and 28 others as a Climate Champion anytime.

















The new self-propelled treadmills in Campus Rec.