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SB City College Wins The 2014 City Of Santa Barbara Water Hero Award

The number one community college in the nation is also the 2014 City of Santa Barbara Water Hero! Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) is being honored for its commitment to improving sustainability efforts on campus, reducing water usage, and retrofitting facilities.  

Julie Hendricks, Senior Director of Facilities, Planning, and Campus Development said that "the college is in general very sustainably minded," and that they were motivated to move forward with more sustainability projects with the help of the City.  In 2013, SBCC participated in the City's WaterWise Survey and Incentive Program, wherein City staff conducted an indoor water use study and presented recommendations for improving water use efficiency. The results of the study showed that SBCC could increase conservation by 30% and save more than $35,000 on utility bills annually with campus-wide plumbing retrofits.  

"We recognize that we are probably one of the largest water users in the community and quickly recognized that we had the opportunity to make a big difference," stated Hendricks of the recent retrofits. The retrofits included replacing faucets and installing spray nozzles and aerators in science labs, locker rooms, cafes and kitchens, installing low-flow shower heads in the locker rooms, and adjusting all toilets to flush at the designed 1.6 gallons per flush. 

Not satisfied with just retrofitting the water use in campus buildings, the team at SBCC continued to evaluate their water usage outdoors and make improvements. Outdoor changes include retrofitting overhead irrigation to drip systems, changing landscapes from turf to water wise plants, incorporating mulch, creating bioswales and rain gardens, and turning the irrigation off completely to certain areas of campus. According to Mark Broomfield, Grounds Maintenance Supervisor, 1.5 acres of turf have been removed to date, and there are plans for further improvement. "This is a long term commitment. The only way we can be ready for the next drought is to keep doing all the right things in between the drought," stated Broomfield.  

While most facilities on campus were originally built in the 1950s and 60s, new sustainability retrofits can be seen throughout campus. For example, the stadium restrooms use recycled water, and solar panels can be spotted on the parking lot rooftops near the Facilities and Operations Building. According to Jay Sullivan, the Construction and Project Manager, in most instances they were able to achieve water savings approaching 60%. 

Water savings even extend off the main campus. At the Schott Center, about 20% of the turf was removed and a rainwater garden was planted in early 2014 that now helps reduce stormwater pollution and collects about 1,000 gallons of water for every inch of rain. Congratulations to Santa Barbara City College for being a Water Hero! 

Watch the video here. 

Read the full story and view past winners here.


Madeline Ward, Acting Water Conservation Coordinator Phone: (805) 897-2672 Email:

Last Updated: Feb 24, 2015
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