California Goes Greener

What began as a group of students calling for the University of California to go solar has culminated in a new UC policy to construct green buildings on campuses and reduce system-wide non-renewable energy consumption by more than 10 percent by 2014. The policy, approved by the Board of Regents this summer, establishes one of the nation's first extensive plans for energy efficiency and sustainability.

The ‘Green Building Policy and Clean Energy Standard' requires the university to purchase green power from the electrical grid, promoting energy efficiency and local renewable power sources. Under the policy, all new and renovated university facilities must be constructed using sustainability principles that exceed required provisions of the California Energy Code's efficiency standards by at least 20 percent.

Elsewhere in California, the urban youth empowerment organization Literacy for Environmental Justice is beginning construction on the first “off the grid” public building in San Francisco. The Living Classroom will be built from recycled construction materials and will include an on-site natural wastewater treatment plant.

Funded by the San Francisco Department of the Environment and the Coastal Conservancy, and designed with input from public school students, the Living Classroom will be a solar- and wind-powered community meeting space and environmental classroom in Heron's Head Park, a 24-acre restored wetland on the former site of Pier 98.

Near the classroom will be gardens with plants traditionally used by the area's original Ohlone inhabitants for food, medicine, and boat-building materials. The project is slated for completion in 2004.

—Kim Corrigan is a staff member at YES!

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