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It's easy to be green

March 28, 2007

Photo of Aundrea Dominguez, the student who lives in the green apartmentSF State is home to the first "green" college student housing unit in San Francisco. The apartment's walls have been given fresh coats of low-toxin paint. It is home to new furniture and carpet made from highly recycled materials. The lights above are highly efficient. The kitchen now boasts energy-efficient and sustainable appliances. The bathroom shelves are stocked with eco-friendly personal care products.

The apartment, located in the Village at Centennial Square student apartment community, showcases how students can live a modern, affordable and comfortable lifestyle while reducing their ecological impact. The Green Apartment will also help move the SF State community toward a more sustainable future, serving as a model for purchasing practices as well as increased recycling, composting and efforts by students to educate and engage the community in environmental issues.

Robert Hutson, associate vice president for facilities and service enterprises, approached Strategic Energy Innovations (SEI), an energy consulting nonprofit based in San Rafael, to collaborate on the project.

SEI and SF State secured funding from the San Francisco-based Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund. More than $4,000 worth of sustainable appliances and other eco-friendly products were donated by Bay Area retailers or purchased from stores in the community.

"We are excited that this project with SF State has worked out so well," SEI Executive Director Cyane Dandridge said. "Through SF State's dedication, and with the overwhelming support from the local retailers, this apartment is a great way to show staff, students and the larger community that living sustainably can be economical and easy."

The apartment's green products include: ENERGY Star® rated electronics, appliances and highly efficient lighting, along with other such green elements as carpet tiles with high recycled content, low-toxic paints, a low-flush toilet, and water-conserving faucet and shower attachments.

The Green Apartment also features displays of environmentally friendly shampoos and conditioners, laundry detergents and facial tissues made of post-consumer recycled content.

SF State staff and students collaborated with SEI on the project. Aundrea Dominguez, an art major, resides in the one-bedroom apartment. Dominguez was chosen because she works as assistant area coordinator in the 760-bed Village at Centennial Square.

The University held an open house at the apartment March 16.

The apartment is available for public tours by appointment. For details, contact Alicia Lewis at

The Green Apartment is one of the University's many sustainability initiatives. Other accomplishments include energy conservation measures supported in part by $1,057,177 in grants and incentives from PG&E, composting of food waste from the student dining center, and a pilot recycling program with a 75-percent diversion rate. Other initiatives planned or under way include a "green cleaning" custodial program, LEED certification for selected buildings, environmentally responsible purchasing and green building programs. In fall 2007, SF State will offer a new environmental theme community for student residents interested in promoting environmentally responsible lifestyles.

The University also offers bachelor's degrees in environmental studies and a master of business administration degree with an emphasis in sustainable business. The Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, SF State's marine field station and the only academic research facility situated on San Francisco Bay, focuses its science courses and research on understanding the natural forces at work in the bay and its surrounding wetland environments, covering such topics as restoration and ecology.

-- Matt Itelson
Photo: Courtesy of Strategic Energy Innovations


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Last modified March 28, 2007 by University Communications