In an effort to make an ecology-friendly campus even “greener,” Santa Monica College has begun work on an environmental audit that will look at campus practices in transportation, construction, water and energy use, waste and recycling, food service and educational curriculum.
Initiated by students in the college’s Eco-Action Club, the volunteer effort — which is targeted to be finished by Earth Day, in April next year — involves students, professors and administrators.
The audit is overseen by a special subcommittee of the college’s Academic Senate Environmental Affairs Committee.
Students include Eco-Action Club members, those enrolled in environmental studies courses and in Sustainable Crews — an extra-credit environmental program facilitated by the nonprofit Sustainable Works.
“This project is really good for us because it’s not just about what we’re doing wrong — it will give us a road map to improve,” said college president Chui Tsang.
This is the first time since 1993 that the college has conducted an environmental audit.
After the 1993 study, the college changed many of its practices, particularly in the areas of curriculum (including the creation of the Center for Environmental and Urban Studies), water conservation and recycling.
Since then, the college has gained a reputation for having one of the best recycling programs in California.
The college recycles 85 percent of its waste (65 percent if construction waste is excluded) and has a worm composting project that turns three tons of cafeteria garbage into organic fertilizer each year.
In addition, the college has made an effort to ensure that its buildings are as eco-friendly as possible through features such as the use of natural ventilation, energy efficient lighting and waterless urinals.
The Sustainable Works program trains about 400 college students a year in “green” living.
The students, in turn, spread the word by making classroom presentations, performing community service or taking on other projects to make sure people know about eco-friendly habits.
Sustainable Works is in the college’s Center for Environmental and Urban Studies’ Pearl Street house in Santa Monica, and is partially funded by the City of Santa Monica.
“This audit allows students to apply their knowledge in a challenging and innovative way,” said Genevieve Bertone, executive director of Sustainable Works.
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