Environmental group walks talk comparing full spectrum light bulbs
Veronica De La Garza never thought of herself as an environmentalist or a furniture maker. These days, she’s both.
De La Garza, 24, and the other Center for Environmental Citizenship (CEC) staff decided to “walk the talk” and redesign their Dupont Circle office with eco-friendly materials. The results are on display during April, or “Earth Month.”
Crunched for space due to a growing staff, CEC solicited the help of a volunteer architect to design bigger desks and create screens to divide the large rooms. De La Garza and the other 11 D.C. staff members teamed up to find sustainable building materials, build new furniture, order non-toxic cleansers and install energy-efficient lighting options. Over the course of six months, the office was transformed into an eco-friendly model for small businesses and non-profits, all for under $ 2,000.
“Everyone wants to work in a pleasant office space. We wanted more--to show that it is possible to design an eco-friendly office on a tight budget,” said Susan Comfort, 28, Executive Director of CEC. “We did that, and now we even save money.”
For example, Comfort said CEC achieved savings on their electricity bills by switching to compact fluorescent and full-spectrum light bulbs and on paper costs by reusing paper that had only been used on one side.
“This project was fun, plus I got to teach environmentalists how to use a power saw,” said Griz Dwight, the recent UPenn architecture graduate who donated his personal time to help CEC. “At first, we had a hard time finding eco-friendly products because there’s just not enough demand. However, the sunflower board we used for the desks is very strong with an interesting surface...I hope to use it in future projects.”
De La Garza also enjoyed the experience. She previously worked for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities as a program coordinator. Prior to that, she served as a legislative policy analyst in her home state of Texas for State Representative Juan J. Hinojosa.
There, she realized the connections between Latino human rights issues and environmental pollution on the Texas/Mexico border. She started working with Campus Green Vote in 1998, and is now the Summer Training Academy Director, preparing for three 100-person Academies in June, 2000.
“I always knew that you get your hands dirty doing grassroots organizing,” she said. “But I didn’t picture this,” she laughed, referring to the after-hours work she and the rest of the staff spent assembling and painting desks.
The CEC office is located on the third floor of a renovated apartment building in the heart of Dupont Circle. The old wooden windows, centrally controlled radiators and window-unit air conditioning compromise energy efficiency. Newly installed weather-stripping and plastic window film help insulate the building, Comfort said.
CEC staff will hold an “ecOpen house” on April 12, 2000 to show neighbors and friends how they improved their office sustainability on a grassroots budget.
Mark Harris contributes and publishes news editorial to http://www.discount-light-bulbs.com.
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