Earthday Report Card:
Higher Education Final Grade: B+
If any sector of Santa Barbara life should be on the cutting edge of environmental know-how, it should be our colleges. It’s no secret that UCSB has long been a bastion of clean living, at least as far as the environment is concerned. Its Environmental Studies Department has educated many about what must be done to live sustainably. Add to that an on-campus recycling program that diverts 54 percent of waste, active composting, and a pledge to design all new buildings to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification’s silver standard, and one can understand why UCSB is often looked to as a leader in clean California campuses. True, UCSB could plausibly work harder on retrofitting older buildings to meet LEED standards, but overall it’s doing well.
The big story here is Santa Barbara City College, which has recently upped its greenie credibility. Campus officials will no doubt tout their efforts to support sustainability and aggressive recycling efforts. In the near future, SBCC plans to use only biodegradable eating utensils and packaging in its dining commons. Furthermore, the campus now features more locally grown, organic products. Additionally, Center for Sustainability Director Adam Green said the college is looking into installing solar panels and forming a public transportation system that can ease the campus’s parking squeeze and cut down on commuter emissions.
Westmont College seems to be somewhat lagging in the effort to go green, however. Though considerably smaller than its peers, the majority of students live on campus. Thus, Westmont could learn a lot from localized efforts, like UCSB’s “Fight the Power” light bulb exchange, which switched out incandescent bulbs in dorms with more efficient, compact, fluorescent ones. This isn’t to say that Westmont is completely behind the times, as it has implemented both a recycling program and a reward system for faculty and staff members who do not drive to work. With Westmont possibly doubling the size of its campus in the near future, now would be the time to overhaul its daily operations to incorporate ecologically responsible measures.