SMC maintains its "green" reputation

Santa Monica College is often hailed as a respected transfer school with a large, diverse student body, but the college is also becoming known as one of the most environmentally-conscious campuses in the nation.

The fall Environmental Issues Lecture Series continued last Tuesday, where future green job opportunities and challenges for local environmentalists were discussed, and SMC’s advances in sustainability were highlighted.

“SMC is one of the greenest schools in the country,” said Genevieve Bertone, SMC’s director of sustainability.

Bertone stressed the importance of sustainability for the environmental benefits and improvements in human health and community.

According to data presented from the Center for Environmental & Urban Studies, SMC is home to not only more than 35,000 students, but also over 1 million worms. The worms are used for their composting ability, as the decomposers can consume 3 tons of pre- consumer waste each year.

“SMC is a great human laboratory for sustainability,” said Bertone.

All student events at SMC are now “zero-waste” events. An emphasis is placed on using biodegradable materials at student events, and clubs work with vendors to ensure minimal waste.

The college is working toward “greening” the curriculum for the student body by adding new courses, including environmental psychology, environmental ethics, and environmental history.

Bertone said that SMC has four “student learning outcomes,” and that all classes should reinforce these outcomes, which are necessary for the school’s accreditation.

The outcomes intended for students are critical thinking, taking responsibility, diversity and tolerance, and the ability to live a sustainable and ethical lifestyle.

All students are expected to have an understanding of the outcomes and benefit from them before graduating.

“We’re changing the paradigm for working both inside and outside the system,” said Bertone, who went on to explain some of the many environmentally friendly features of the campus.

For instance, underneath the quad is a 75,000-gallon rain attachment system that collects rainwater for reuse.

In 2010, Chevron completed a comprehensive energy retrofit for boilers as well as lighting, including the installation of 408-kilowatt solar panels atop SMC’s parking structures, the largest solar panel system in Santa Monica.

The college is home to green-certified businesses such as The Coffee Spot and TCBY, and avoids cleaning products that use hazardous waste materials.

Dana Morgan, SMC English professor and coordinator of the Organic Learning Garden who was recently honored with an Eco-Hero Award, spoke at the lecture.

Morgan said that she fell in love with the garden and her newfound teaching abilities.

“Through our connections with people, we believe in a different kind of learning— hands-onlearning,”Morgansaid.

As Morgan spoke, she handed out scarlet runner beans from a basket, and encouraged those in attendance to take the beans to grow for themselves to see the “beautiful red flowers” produced by oneseed.

“It’s all about education for me,” said Morgan. “Save the seed; grow the seed.” Erick Zavala, a third-year SMC

student, delayed transferring from SMC to help the Organic Learning Garden materialize.

“It was hard to get people focused on learning when there was no garden,” said Zavala.

Club Grow members are eligible for a plot in the 1,300 square-foot garden, and can plant from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. It takes five students to apply for one of the garden’s 13 plots.

“I feel a lot more empowered,” said Zavala. “I don’t have space at home, and I’ve never taken a class, or even notes on gardening.”

From garden clubs to garden worms to green curriculums, SMC’s environmentalism is becoming more far- reaching.

“I came to SMC because of the environmental thinking, and that was in 1997,”saidMorgan.