City honors EcoCentro with award

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Steven Lewis, former continuing education program director, explains EcoCentro's rain water collection process April 22, 2015. Five smaller barrels hold 200 gallons each and are available for residential use. The larger well holds 2,700 gallons.

Steven Lewis, former continuing education program director, explains EcoCentro’s rain water collection process. File

Center that promotes sustainable living beat 12 competitors for recognition.

By Nicole Bautista

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

EcoCentro, this college’s outreach center that teaches the community to be green, received an SA Tomorrow Sustainability award for its sustainability education.

The city of San Antonio presented the award Nov. 1 during a ceremony at the second annual San Antonio Sustainability Summit at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. The ceremony recognized building developers and local programs that demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting sustainability and resiliency.

“What is important for us, is to include in the purview of the programs the focus on people, programs and progress,” Liza Meyer, the city’s manager of green policy and corporate sustainability, said in a Nov. 9 phone interview with The Ranger.

Meyer said EcoCentro, which competed against 12 other educational organizations, did an outstanding job of “advancing and applying technology and diversity.”

The summit focused on implementing plans to promote green buildings, infrastructures, food systems and sustainable transportation aimed at improving San Antonio through sustainable actions.

Julie Cornelius, EcoCentro’s continuing education program coordinator, said its mission is to educate and advocate for the environment.

“Since we opened in the spring of 2014, our staff has worked hard at creating programs and resources that appeal to everyday people who want to learn more about sustainability and incorporate sustainable practices into their lives,” Cornelius said.

The building in which EcoCentro is located serves as an example of an environmentally friendly structure.

Cornelius said visitors frequently stop by to tour the center and ask questions about its features.

The 3,000-square-foot facility is equipped with a “solar-photovoltaic system connected to 135 roof-mounted solar panels, a 2,700-gallon water catchment tank and five 40-gallon tanks, water-wise landscaping, four electric vehicle charging stations, a B-Cycle station, and large composting and gardening areas,” according to EcoCentro’s website.

At the summit Mayor Ivy Taylor projected that San Antonio is expected to grow with 1 million more people over the next 25 years.

“That is where this idea of sustainability can not just be about talking,” Taylor said. “We have to turn it into action.”

Cornelius said fellow award winners serve as inspirations not only for the community, but also for EcoCentro.

“These are local businesses and nonprofits who share a similar mission to ours: to preserve, protect and conserve our natural resources,” Cornelius said. “The award winners showed that there are a lot of different ways to do this and that the field of sustainability is wide open.”

EcoCentro visitors can begin practicing sustainable living and also learn about getting involved with other affiliations in this city.

As an outreach center, EcoCentro hosts workshops presented by environmental activists and partners with organizations such as Green Space Alliances of South Texas, San Antonio Water System and the San Antonio River Authority, Cornelius said.

Cornelius suggests simple ways to get involved at EcoCentro:

  • Visit for a tour
  • Attend a workshop or presentation
  • Hold a class
  • Become a volunteer
  • Get involved with students doing research projects at EcoCentro

These are opportunities to learn about sustainability and how important it is to conserve natural resources not only for the community, but for future generations.

“Winning the award not only honors us, but helps remind us of our duty to San Antonio citizens and to the SAC campus, including faculty, staff and students,” Cornelius said.

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