UC Santa Barbara celebrated the opening of its new Ocean and Science Education Building near Campus Point on Tuesday. The university teamed up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to construct the 15,000-square-foot, “green” multipurpose building.
One half of the building will house the new headquarters for NOAA’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, which protects approximately 1,4700 square miles of marine resources, sea life, and habitats surrounding San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara islands. The other half of the building, which is still under construction, will eventually house the Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science (OCTOS), a collaborative project between UCSB’s Marine Science Institute and the Sanctuary that will give more than 40,000 students of all ages the opportunity to study marine sciences and ocean conservation each year.
Representative Lois Capps, UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang, UCSB Vice Chancellor for Research Michael Witherell, NOAA’s assistant administrator for the National Ocean Service Dr. Holly Bamford, and Sanctuary Superintendent Chris Mobley cut kelp — rather than ribbon — to formally unveil the building that will allow Channel Islands Sanctuary offices to work in close proximity to academic researchers.
Funded with a $8.1 million grant from NOAA, the building — in the works for over 10 years — was designed and constructed with the objective of achieving gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. UCSB has the most LEED certified buildings in the UC system.
Speaking to the crowd of about 100 people, Bamford noted Capps and Yangs’ commitment to ocean conservation and future preservation of the coast. “We need to find better ways to work together, share resources, ideas, and people to move our mission forward by bringing the academic community together with the federal sector to advance coastal conservation,” she said.
Capps spoke about the importance of collaborate investment projects “to encourage young people to pursue careers in ocean conservation.” Capps added that the new building highlighted “two very special institutions, treasures in ecology and in learning, coming together in one great way.”
The crowd included people who work at the sanctuary, UCSB representatives, and 7th grade students participating in Tech Trek, a one-week science and math camp for girls that takes place on several college campuses in California to encourage young women to get involved in science, math, engineering, and technology.
Chancellor Yang, an advocate for energy conservation on campus, said he is absolutely thrilled that this new building will “educate students and the public about ocean conservation.”
Witherell said, “We’re in this for the long haul. This building symbolizes that. We know at UCSB that our science needs partnerships to make an impact on the community.”
Noting excitement and a big sense of responsibility to fulfill the promise of the impressive building, Mobley said, “We have a lot of work to do ahead.”