EcoCentro stresses sustainability

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Justin Duncan of the National Center for Appropriate Technology; Julie Cornelius, continuing education program coordinator; and Steven Lewis, director of EcoCentro, measure and mark plots after a meeting Wednesday at EcoCentro.  Photo by Anthony B. Botello

Justin Duncan of the National Center for Appropriate Technology; Julie Cornelius, continuing education program coordinator; and Steven Lewis, director of EcoCentro, measure and mark plots after a meeting Wednesday at EcoCentro. Photo by Anthony B. Botello

Members of Students For Environmental Awareness pick out plots for plants at EcoCentro March 18. The planter pictured, which currently has strawberry plants and lettuce, was recently harvested and can hold many plants at the same time in a very small space.  Photo by Anthony B. Botello

Members of Students For Environmental Awareness pick out plots for plants at EcoCentro March 18. The planter pictured, which currently has strawberry plants and lettuce, was recently harvested and can hold many plants at the same time in a very small space. Photo by Anthony B. Botello

Center to sponsor three environmental programs April 4.

By Travis Doyle

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Sinkin EcoCentro has helped this college reuse leftover grass trimmings, fallen leaves, coffee grounds from the campus Starbucks and food waste to create compost for the community garden.

This is an example of one contribution of EcoCentro, this college’s eco-friendly community outreach center, which does projects and hosts workshops to promote education in environmental awareness and to make a neutral carbon footprint for this college and the surrounding community.

Steven Lewis, the director of the service, trade and industry center, oversees EcoCentro and helps coordinate projects such as a solar energy conversion system that works to power the building, a series of electrical vehicle charging stations, water conservation barrels, composting of food waste, a worm farm and a community garden.

Students use a variety of repurposed materials from bricks to an old bed frame to create plant beds at EcoCentro’s community garden.  Photo by Anthony B. Botello

Students use a variety of repurposed materials from bricks to an old bed frame to create plant beds at EcoCentro’s community garden. Photo by Anthony B. Botello

“We have 130 solar panels,” he said Tuesday. “The output is hooked up to electric vehicle charging stations that work with the solar panels. Most days, depending on the weather, we produce more energy from the sun than what we consume, except at night, of course, where we run (the building) off of (solar power).”

EcoCentro produces more than three times the energy it consumes, which allows the energy not used by the building or the charging stations to be put back into the power grid.

Three workshops scheduled April 4 are typical of the center, which opened in spring 2014 at 1802 N. Main Ave. east of the main campus.

Jess Mayers, environmental psychology sophomore, listens to Student Environmental Association President Lisa Cervantes, an environment science sophmore, a meeting March 18 at EcoCentro. They discussed new community works projects for Earth Day, composting, gardening and other activities.   Photo by Anthony B. Botello

Jess Mayers, environmental psychology sophomore, listens to Student Environmental Association President Lisa Cervantes, an environment science sophmore, a meeting March 18 at EcoCentro. They discussed new community works projects for Earth Day, composting, gardening and other activities. Photo by Anthony B. Botello

• The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Bexar County Master Rainwater Specialists will demonstrate how to make a rain barrel for personal rainwater capture 9 a.m.-noon April 4.

To attend the water barrel workshop, participants must be one of the first 30 people who RSVP with a payment of $50 to Angel Torres, matorres@ag.tamu.edu, by March 30.

• The San Antonio chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby will meet 11 a.m.-1 p.m. April 4.

The event will include a panel discussion on engaging in the political process to respond to global warming, a screening of the film “Fierce Green Fire” starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep and a question-and-answer session on ways the organization’s approach to citizen advocacy is stressing managing the risks of climate change.

The EcoCentro building includes a mural, solar panels, rainwater reclamation barrels and cistern, electric vehicle recharging stations, community gardens and composting.  Photo by Anthony B. Botello

The EcoCentro building includes a mural, solar panels, rainwater reclamation barrels and cistern, electric vehicle recharging stations, community gardens and composting. Photo by Anthony B. Botello

• Volunteers from the Balcones Satellite Group will sponsor a free workshop, Invaders of Texas, 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. April 4 that covers how to identify and report invasive plants with the use of a GPS camera and the Texas Invaders mobile app.

Attendees are advised to bring a camera and a GPS or a smart phone. Registration is first come, first served. For information, contact Lonnie Shockley at balinvaders@outlook.com.

In other activities at the center, Students for Environmental Awareness have presentations open to the public every other Wednesday. The next meeting will be 5–6 p.m. April 1 in Room 103 of EcoCentro. The group also meets 2-3 p.m. every Wednesday in sessions open to the public.

EcoCentro frequently meets with the Alamo Group of the Sierra Club and the Tobin Hill Community Association to help this college’s surrounding communities achieve environmental goals.

For more information, visit the EcoCentro page, www.facebook.com/EcoCentro1.

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