People are walking outside Cal State Northridge Sustainability Center at dusk.

California State University Northridge Sustainability Center

Setting the standard for environmental stewardship

Project Facts

Location Northridge, California
Owner California State University, Northridge
Size 3,000 SF
Cost $4 million
Status Completed 2017
Certifications LEED Platinum


The cornerstone of any university’s sustainability program should undoubtedly be the facility that houses it. CSU Northridge embraced this challenge when conceiving its Sustainability Center. This architectural gem is a testament to the university’s unwavering dedication to environmental stewardship, evident in every facet of its design. Not only has it garnered green awards, but it also stands as a central showcase for the university’s evolution into a pioneering and sustainable campus.

Front view of the Cal State Northridge Sustainability Center looking into the windows with people walking by.

People work on their computers inside the Cal State Northridge Sustainability Center.

Students sort recycling at the Cal State Northridge Sustainability Center.

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About the project

Cal State Northridge strives to be a sustainability leader, as evidenced by the construction of the Sustainability Center, which houses faculty and hosts classes while serving as an example of its sustainability work beyond the campus borders. The center was designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification and to meet the Living Building Challenge with Net Zero Energy.

Some remarkable aspects of the recycling yard are the 2,000 SF solar photovoltaic canopy that supplies energy to the building, the solar hot water system that provides heated water needs inside the facility, composting toilets that negate water usage for waste removal, and a system for rainwater and greywater capture meeting landscaping irrigation needs. The project’s location in the seismically active LA basin, combined with the project’s overall goal of minimizing waste, required Walter P Moore to provide an efficient and effective seismic system. The project was subject to rigorous seismic peer review to ensure the result met the high-performance goals for the CSU standards.

Considering the building’s purpose, Walter P Moore’s designers specified that 55% of the structural steel be salvaged from buildings constructed in the continental United States after 1930. The team also saved money and time for the owner by using a simple steel lateral system of X- and inverted-V wide flange beams on hollow structural section columns. The university is a proud signatory to Second Nature’s Presidents’ Climate Commitment and is following a climate action plan to guide them towards climate neutrality by 2040; this new center is evidence of this effort.