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CONTACT: Bruce Smith
Public Information Officer
(310) 434-4209
DATE: July 10, 2006

Aim is to Make Eco-Friendly College Even “Greener”

In a continued effort to make an eco-friendly campus even “greener,” Santa Monica College has begun work on a detailed environmental audit that will look at campus practices in transportation, construction, water and energy use, waste and recycling, food service, curriculum and more.

Initiated by students in SMC’s Eco-Action Club, the volunteer effort – which is targeted to conclude by Earth Day in April 2007 – involves students, professors and administrators and is overseen by a special subcommittee of the SMC Academic Senate’s Environmental Affairs Committee. Students include Eco-Action club members, and 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,” SMC President Dr. Chui L. Tsang said.

Dr. Garen Baghdasarian, director of SMC’s Center for Environmental and Urban Studies and chair of the Environmental Affairs Committee, said the college already has an excellent track record on environmental issues. “It’s really a matter of making a great college even better,” he said.

This is the first time since 1993 that the college has conducted an environmental audit. After the 1993 study, SMC 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, SMC has gained a reputation for having one of the best recycling programs in the state. Indeed, SMC recycles 85 percent of its waste (65 percent if construction waste is excluded) and is known for its unique worm composting project that turns three tons of SMC cafeteria garbage each year into clean and organic fertilizer.

In addition, SMC has made a concerted effort to ensure its buildings are as eco-friendly as possible through such features as the use of natural ventilation, efficient lighting and waterless urinals.

And the Sustainable Works program – which is located in the SMC Center for Environmental and Urban Studies’ Pearl Street house and is partially funded by the City of Santa Monica – trains about 400 SMC students a year in green living. The students, in turn, spread the word by making classroom presentations, performing community service or embarking on other projects to make their fellow students more eco-savvy.

“This audit allows students to apply their knowledge in a challenging and innovative way,” said Genevieve Bertone, executive director of Sustainable Works.

For further information, contact Bertone at (310) 458-8716.

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