Renovations Coming for Cayton Center

If you're the type of person who prefers their urinals flush-free, their paper less virginal, and their light fixtures solar-powered, then you're in for an early holiday treat.

The Santa Monica College Associated Students on Mon. approved funding for an initiative that will see the Cayton Center turned into a sustainable and more environmentally compatible building, eliminating many of the more wasteful practices that blight its current functionality.

The go-ahead was given for Santa Monica's Sustainable Works to conduct an initial assessment of the upper level of the Cayton Center, including the AS offices and the computer lab. Their findings are expected to include the introduction of recycled paper and designated recycling areas, as well as more long-term strategies that will encompass major structural renovations.

"We can easily change infrastructure, but we've also got to change people's behavior," said Susy Borlido, business greening program director, and the person charged with overseeing operations over the next 12 months. "If you can educate people, and encourage them to adopt more sustainable habits, that's what makes the real difference."

Having made a cursory examination of the building, Burlido was able to immediately pinpoint a number of areas for improvement. This includes the computer lab's use of "virgin paper" (non-recycled paper), a problem she admits can be quickly remedied, and the purchasing habits of the AS department that she believes are inefficient and non-Sustainable.

However, in the long term, Borlido expects to identify more involved changes to the building, including the aforementioned structural improvements. While light fixtures and carpeting are relatively easy to alter, Borlido also believes that the building's ventilation, air-conditioning, and toilet system can be altered to reduce energy and water usage.

According to Borlido, the initial assessment, which could begin as early as next week, will take approximately one month to complete. After this assessment, a report will be submitted to the AS who will then choose which recommendations will be implemented over the following year.

"At the core of the program it's about saving us some money," said Natasha Gorodnitski, AS director of sustainability, and a driving force behind the whole initiative. "We should be role models for the students in terms of sustainable practices," she said.

There is, however, a sting in the tail for those students who make use of the computer lab's facilities. As of next semester, the AS will be responsible for funding all of the Cayton Center's supplies, which is estimated to cost in the region of $27,000. With the introduction of more expensive recycled paper adding a further strain on their budget, Gorodnitski warned that the computer lab will drastically cut the amount of free paper available to students.

While many agree that this is something that can only have a positive impact on the Cayton Center, a number of students are clearly irked by further restrictions to paper usage. One international student, who wished to remain anonymous, said that this is just another example of the college taking more money out of her pocket.

But Gorodnitski hopes that this may set a precedent for other SMC departments to follow suit. Sustainable Works is, every year, helping another 20 Santa Monica businesses become sustainable. The future appears not so much bright as positively green.