Among environmentalists and green policy wonks, UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management needs no introduction. The Edison International Visitor Center, unveiled Thursday, will take care of everyone else.

The center, part of the Bren School’s broader outreach effort, was opened on Thursday in a ceremony that included presentations from Bren School personnel, as well as the first annual “State of the Environment” address from Secretary Linda Adams of the California EPA.

Dean Steve Gaines of the Bren School delivered the welcoming remarks, thanking Edison International for the $500,000 gift that made the center possible, furnishing $100,000 for the renovation of the ground-floor room in Bren Hall, and a further $400,000 endowment for the continued operation of the center.

Eric Fournier, a Bren graduate student, presented on the water-energy nexus, explaining that California’s water infrastructure is one of the biggest electricity consumers in the state, and that water conservation should be discussed as a component of energy conservation.

Dr. Charles Kolstad, a professor in the Bren School, highlighted power production and transportation as two promising avenues for reducing carbon emissions. A move from coal to natural gas production, he explained, along with an increased deployment of plug-in electric cars, could leverage existing technologies to effect a significant reduction in carbon emissions.

Secretary Adams, in her “State of the Environment” address, outlined California’s place as a vanguard within the broader American environmental movement. “California has for three decades been the greenest state in the nation,” she said, adding that California’s clean air and water guidelines, for example, influenced the Obama administration’s environmental protection legislation.

Green jobs, she went on to explain, have reliably been a bright spot in this faltering economy. The green sector has grown at ten times the speed of the economy as a whole, and green companies, particularly in California, collect the lion’s share of venture capital money.

As the Center itself was being unveiled, both the Bren School and Edison International took a moment to recognize their partnership. “We’re pleased to continue our ongoing collaboration,” said Stephen E. Pickett of Southern California Edison, which is celebrating its 125th year of operations in California.


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