Nature Village, Sustainable Family Living at UC Berkeley
TGIF first update (October 2012)
Nature Village is a multidisciplinary and multicultural group incorporating University Village residents, UC Berkeley students, staff, nonprofit organization and volunteers, collaborating to achieve sustainable living practices at the University Village.
It activities begun in the month of May 2012 and as a first step, Nature Village’s activities were focused in collecting information about utilities consumption, trash production and University Village general management as an assessment that allow us to find and design better alternatives both at Village-wide and household levels.
The role of the Village Manager (Tavie Tipton) as part of Nature Village’s team has been crucial to have fast access to all this data and information as well with her experience in previous activities in the Village.
Once identified that the apartments don’t have any way to keep track of individual utility consumption, and a evident waste management problem, we decided to use recreational and educational activities to make residents more conscious about the use of resources and waste production.
During the Village Festival, conducted the past September 22nd, we launched Nature Village’s project to work with residents, who received the project with excitement, identifying a need for these kinds of activities, and now we have families participating in our Green Family Program.
Till this moment Nature Village represents the only group working toward sustainability in the Village and the funding provided by TGIF has been vital to start working with this project. Other very important in kind contributions comes from the participation of Nature Village volunteers and the collaborations with UC Berkeley student groups (Green Campus and BS@C).
Even when at this point we don’t have much metrics of the progress, the benefit of these activities comes in different dimensions, including the environmental, health, social and economical.
Since the Village is economically independent from the University and all the services offered are paid with money coming from resident’s payment, we can find a direct economical benefit, with the reduction in expenses for bills of electricity, gas (PG&E) and water (EBMUD) once residents start using more consciously these resources. We can save money also with the reduction in trash production. At this moment the Village pays $18,788 for trash collection (CRRS) and $4,243 for recyclables pick up (Civicorps), including an extra fee due the not proper assortment of recyclable materials.
Environmentally, we can reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill, used water, do better disposal of recyclables and special waste (electronics and hazardous waste), and reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases.
Socially, these kinds of activities open opportunities for the residents to know each other and gather families for a meaningful goal, which strength the sense of community, promote a healthier lifestyle and makes better citizens.