New Center Houses Sustainability Efforts

The new Sustainability Resource Center — designed to encourage and unite environmental initiatives on campus — debuted Nov. 20 in Price Center.

“The main goal [of the SRC] is to centralize sustainability efforts,” Student Sustainability Collective cofounder Fran Avendaño said. “It’s a one-shop stop for sustainability.”

The administration for Campus Sustainability is funding the rent and upkeep of the building. The center draws additional funding from a $2.34 quarterly student fee, approved by voters on last winter’s A.S. special-election ballot. Fee profits have contributed to the cost of the building, and feed into the Green Initiative Fund. Part of the fund goes toward paying the salaries of the center’s directors. TGIF will also offer $80,000 per year to students who want to create their own environment projects.

“It’s really taking students’ money and giving it back to them to promote sustainability on campus,” Elizabeth Elman, one of six SSC directors, said.

In order to receive TGIF funding for sustainability-related projects, students must submit comprehensive applications. Their projects are required to promote sustainability, have measurable outcomes, demonstrate that they exceed minimum sustainability requirements and include plans to track effectiveness on campus. The SSC staff reviews each application and accepts or denies its project, then determines how much money it will receive.

According to Souder, the new space is constructed almost entirely of sustainable products. She said she is confident the building will receive a silver — if not gold — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating score, which measures a building’s capacity to save energy, conserve water, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, improve indoor air quality and use resources responsibly.

According to Souder, the biggest challenge in the creation of the SRC was securing a source of funding.

“When we obtained our original estimates and made the request for funds, we thought we would be able to complete the SRC for about $100 a square foot,” Souder said. “As we added sustainable features and innovative products, the costs increased. We didn’t have enough money to make the building as sustainable as we would have liked.”

Several donors, however, have played a major role in covering the difference, supplying products such as the flooring and furniture.

“Our partners have pulled out the stops and not just contributed ‘things,’ but have put their heart and souls into making this place beautiful and innovative,” Souder said.

Avendaño said that the short-term goal for the center is to redefine sustainability in terms of both “environmental justice” and “social behavior.”

She stressed that the center is not the final answer to sustainability solutions, but instead a space designed to provide collaboration, publicity, networking and marketing opportunities for interested participants.

“The SRC is a catalyst for a sustainability movement on campus,” Avendaño said. “It doesn’t start and end with the SRC.”

Student organizations on campus such as CalPIRG are already using the center to promote their causes.

Members of the SCC pitched the idea for the SRC a few years ago, partnering with Campus Sustainability staff to eventually create the center.

“We hope it will be a warm, inviting, pleasant space for people to be in and to learn about sustainability,” Souder said.

The center will officially open to the public on Dec. 1.

Readers can contact Kelly Pleskot at [email protected].

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