​​​​​Click below to learn about sustainability features of the Santa Monica College campus.

Center for Environmental and Urban Studies

The CEUS houses Student Greening Programs such as Sustainable Works, which holds workshops to teach students how to become more sustainable in their own daily lives. It also conducts academic research on campus sustainability policies and programs like the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. The Center also consists of a Living Laboratory for sustainable practices and green building materials. Student clubs meet here weekly, such as Eco Action Club, or in the Organic Learning Garden such as Club Grow. It hosts annual events such as Earth Week and Sustainability Week, and tables at various events on campus.

Organic Learning Garden

The SMC community is excited by the opening of the new Organic Learning Garden facility!

The OLG provides the opportunity to learn, to grow our own food, and better understand food systems and the impact they have on our society. We can make our communities self-sustaining, have access to fresh and healthy food, reconnect to the earth and our traditions, and nourish our bodies. During our first year, there were about 1,200 square feet of planting space. Several planting options—raised beds, containers, mounded beds, and constructed herb gardens—that will be available. Plots will be assigned by the OLG Garden Plot Committee (faculty, staff, and students). By planting a garden space during our inaugural year, you will have the opportunity to provide us with valuable feedback and help us develop future policies to insure the maintenance of a thriving garden on a season-to-season and year-to-year basis. We look forward to building a sustainable gardening community at Santa Monica College and hope you will join us in this effort. Current plots are distributed by the Organic Learning Garden Oversight Committee.

Any Line Any Time

In 2007-2008, Santa Monica College subsidized 3 lines servicing the highest concentration of SMC students.Then in 2008-2009, the Associated Students pushed to increase the service to Any Line, Any Time. The program costs approximately 1.4 million dollars, split between the Associated Students and the "General Fund". All you ne​ed to ride a big blue bus is a valid staff or student ID, and ride for FREE: ANY LINE, ANY TIME.


Since 2001 SMC has used a closed-loop composting system which houses approximately 400,000 worms, whose job is to convert about 500 lbs of food scraps coming out of the cafeteria each week into valuable fertilizer. This nutrient rich soil is used to fertilize the landscaping all around campus. By using this system, SMC prevents 10,000 lbs of food waste from going into landfills each year, which contributes in reducing methane emissions from decomposing food waste and carbon emsissions from the transportation of all that food waste to distant landfills.

Recycling and Zero Waste Program    

ZW station.jpg​​​​​​​​SMC has reduced its total waste output by 60% since 2006. There are approximately 100 recycle bins on the exterior of campus alone. In 2009-10 the Board of Trustees passed a Zero waste ​Events Board Policy requiring events to use compostable ware and produce no more than 10% waste. The Recycling program is managed by SMC's Sustainability Department and staffed only by student workers.

Greening our Cafeteria Vendors

On-campus food vendors are selected using comprehensive sustainability criteria. This resulted in Carl's Jr. being replaced with Campus Kitchen, which has robust environmental business practices and healthier choices. Vendors now are more supportive of SMC's recycling, composting and Zero Waste events policy.

Rain Catchment System

Various cisterns on campus are caputring 200,000 gallons of water so they may be returned to the aquifer by filtering the water through tubes and layers of carbon, soil, and rocks. This mimics the natural process that is disrupted in the urban environment. 

SMC’s policy is to retain as much stormwater on campus as possible.  When it rains, the water is channeled to the quad where it drains down under the grass through layers of gravel and permeable cloth into the cistern. The gravel and permeable cloth provide the first layers of filtration into the holding tank (cistern). The water then slowly drains out of the cistern through the many layers of rock and sediment, thereby purifying the water to recharge the aquifers and retain rainwater.

A smaller 2,200 gln cistern, under the Organic Learning Garden, captures rainwater which is pumped up and used for irrigation. It's healthier for the fruits and vegetables since it does not contain chemicals like fluoride, chlorine or chloramine.

Native Plants and Water Conservation

Drought tolerant landscaping is found throughout many areas of campus. They support local wildlife, requires little maintenance and very little water. Some plants are endangered and some have benefits to the local ecosystem like feeding local bees and being fire resistant.

A native landspace demonstration garden called "Garden / Garden" is located on Pearl street in front of the Campus Police Department and Outreach Center. It demonstrates the water and maintenance cost savings between a typical garden and one that is planted with natives.

The CEUS is planted with native species and each plant is marked for reference. Mulch has been spread throughout the yard to capture valuable runoff from rain events to help return it to the aquifer. Rainbarrels capture water from the roof which can be used during dry days to water the landscape.​

SMC LEED Buildings​

SMC Bond Measure Building Projects are to be designed to meet the US Green Building Council’s Green Building Program. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system is a widely recognized national and international benchmark for design, construction and operation of high performance buildings. The LEED rating system provides a measurable way to incorporate sustainable design into the built environment.

Some of the distinguishing characteristics and features of a LEED building include: 

  • Storm Water Quantity and Quality Control using underground cisterns
  • Water Use Reduction using low water technologies
  • Water Efficient Landscaping
  • Optimization of Energy Performance through lighting controls
  • On-Site Renewable Energy production through photovoltaic array​
  • Construction Waste Management Control
  • Recycled Content of construction materials
  • Use of Certified Wood products
  • Low Emitting Materials, Adhesives, and sealants, and Paints and coatings
  • Indoor Air Quality Control
  • Thermal Comfort Control
  • Daylighting and Views

The following buildings have been certified using LEED:

Student Services Building is designed under USGBC NC v3 and is seeking a LEED Platinum certification. Project measures designed into the Building include:

CORE Performance Center is designed under USGBC NC v3 and is certified LEED Platinum. Project measures designed into the Building include:

Center for Media and Design is designed under USGBC NC v3 and is certified LEED Gold. Project measures designed into the Building include:

Performing Arts Center is designed under USGBC NC v3 and is certified LEED Gold. Project measures designed into the Building include:

IT / Media Building has been designed under USGBC NC v3 and has a LEED Silver Certification. 

HSS Building is certified LEED Silver

Greening the Curriculum

One of our 4 institutional learning outcomes is directly related to sustainability:

"SMC students will take responsibility for their own impact on the earth by living a sustainable and ethical life style." We are the only community college in the nation to have an Ecological Literacy component as part of our graduation requirements. SMC also developed the Solar/Photovoltaic Installation certificate, Energy Efficiency certificate, and Recycling and Resource Management certificate. The Two Environmental PDF FileAA & PDF FileAS degrees offered at SMC are Environmental Studies and Environmental Science. Many traditional disciplines have “greened the curriculum” by incorporating environmental themes and examples and/ or offering the Sustainable Works program as extra credit.

Solar Energy

Photovoltaic systems can be found in various places around campus, including the carport project in Parking Structure 3 (cost $3.6 million for the structure and an additional $1 million for efficiency) which produces 400KW. In the Library, there is a 32 KW system, and the CEUS has a 3 KW system. The Center for Media and Design building, Performing Arts Center, and Student Services Buildings all have large solar arrays built onto their roofs. All future buildings will incorporate solar power. The new Core Performace building also has solar thermal water heaters to produce hot water for all the showers placed in the building.

EV Charging Stations

Main Campus - Lot 3 has 6 EV spaces on the bottom level drivers with their own cords. (2 for Students and 4 for Employees)

Main Campus - Student Services Center. There are 6 level II charging stations on the first floor for students and 6 on each of the two floors below for employees. There are also 21 spaces designated for EVs and ZEVs for staging before and after charging. 

Bundy campus has 5 level I charging stations in the eastern parking lot. 

CMD campus has 8 level II charging stations. (2 for Students and 6 for Employees)

EV charging stations will be integrated into each new future parking garage that is constructed.

Water Filling Stations

There are 17 water filling stations located around campus to easily refill water bottles. Associated Students provides free reusable bottles to all students at the Cayton Center.

Energy Efficiency Projects

High efficiency boilers installed in:

  • Drescher Hall – 95% efficiency condensing boilers
  • Science Building – 95% efficient boilers and 95% efficient domestic water boilers 10,638

Lighting fixtures upgraded out of 16,000 total

  • Interior fixtures – 9905
  • Exterior fixtures – 773
  • ​Occupancy sensors – 700
  • Any fixture above 50 watts was targeted Occupancy sensors and time clocks installed to reduce lighting

Energy Management Systems to monitor and regulate building energy, temperature, and water use were installed in 2017.

Two Central Plants have been installed in the CORE performance building and CMD campus. They use chillers to freeze liquid in off-peak hours and then use the chilled water as refrigerant during the day to provide cooling to all buildings on the main campus. These systems provide energy efficiencies and eliminate harmful CFS from entering the atmosphere. 

Sustainable Transportation

In addition to free bus lines from Any Line; Any Time, there are over 600 bike racks located throughout the campus, allowing students to commute on their bikes freely. DIY bike stands, repair tools, and pumps are located in the bike lot on Peart Street, and are available 24/7. In 2014, SMC was recognized as a "Bike Friendly University"- Bronze level by the League of American Cyclists. In 2019 SMC was recognized by the City of Santa Monica with a Gold Achievement Award for it's transportation initiatives.

Facilities Maintenance

  • Hazardous Waste Safety Officer position created.
  • Green Seal Certified chemicals used campus-wide.
  • Irrigation Specialist position created.
  • TCBY/ The Coffee Spot is Green Business certified.
  • The Bookstore is Green Business certified.
  • Facilities use a fleet of electric carts on campus.