Edison International Visitors Center Opens

Edison International Visitors Center: an Eco-Resource for the Community

New facility features interative technology to highlight sustainability concepts and best practices.

May 24, 2011

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara and Edison International held the Grand Opening for the Edison International Visitors Center on May 19 at Bren Hall.

Visit the Visitors Center web page.

Linda Adams, Secretary for Environmental Protection at the California EPA, delivered the First Annual State of the Environment Address at the Bren School, focusing on environmental opportunities and challenges. Stephen E. Pickett, Executive Vice President, Southern California Edison, a subsidiary of Edison International, spoke about the collaboration between Bren and Edison and the opportunities it presents for outreach and education. UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas was on hand to fficially open the new center.

The major renovation and upgrade of the visitors center at Bren Hall was made possible by a generous gift from Edison International. The new space, named the “Edison International Visitors Center,” is now open to support educational outreach, teleconferencing and interactive learning.

Located in a highly visible first-floor location at Bren Hall, the visitors center has long served as the starting point for Bren Hall tours. More than eight thousand visitors have come to learn about green building techniques and energy efficiency since the building opened in 2002 as the first LEED™ Platinum laboratory building in the United States. In 2009 Bren Hall earned a Platinum rating for existing buildings from the US Green Building Council, making it the only double Platinum LEED™ building.

Key elements in the new center include a “Sustainability Touch Tank” that allows visitors to examine materials made from recycled and renewable resources, many of which have been incorporated into the construction of Bren Hall. A large-screen monitor linked to a computer serves as the central information hub, with “dashboard” software providing educational modules on key concepts of sustainability, including energy, water, transportation, climate change and life cycle assessment. A K-12 module with links to sustainably lesson plans and short educational videos are also featured. This information will be updated regularly to provide visitors with information on the most current sustainability innovations. The dashboard also provides real-time data on Bren Hall’s water and energy use, and energy production from the solar array atop the building. Skype and a computer-mounted video camera enable users to conference internationally.

“I am delighted to see the beautiful new visitors center,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “It builds on Edison International’s long history of support for the university and will enable the Bren School, the university and Edison International to more effectively pursue our shared mission of educating the public on the critical issues of energy sustainability and resource productivity.”

“This significant partnership provides the opportunity for education and outreach, critical in the effort to both reduce energy use and increase conservation of valuable resources,” said SCE Executive Vice President Pickett.

“Our hope is that an experience at the Edison International Visitors Center will enable guests to bridge the gap between understanding sustainability as an abstract concept and experiencing it as a part of everyday life,” said Bren School Dean Steve Gaines. “This new space is an ideal vehicle for extending our public-service mission and sharing the wealth of research and knowledge that is generated by our faculty and students and through our ongoing collaboration with Southern California Edison.”

The Edison International Visitors Center reflects the shared commitment of the Bren School and Edison International to provide leadership in energy efficiency, environmental solutions and protection, resource conservation, and sustainable building best practices. It also highlights the company’s past and present work on clean energy, and its efforts, often performed in collaboration with UC researchers, to advance innovation in providing safe, reliable, low-cost, and sustainable electricity for today and future generations.

Since 2009, UCSB has committed more than $20 million on energy conservation projects, and Edison International has generously contributed more than $3 million through grant and rebate programs. These projects have saved 14 million kilowatt hours (kWh), worth over $1 million per year, and have reduced total annual campus electricity demand by more than a megawatt. Without Edison International’s support for the university’s energy-conservation efforts over the past decade, UCSB’s 51,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year would have increased to more than 65,000 metric tons per year.