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Another Look at Bren: The Founder of the School Tells His Story

Faculty and students in the Environmental Studies program have questioned in the Daily Nexus whether the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management should be so named. Objections to the Bren School name have been heaped with objections to its new building. Debate about curriculum, philosophy, and facilities is healthy, but propagation of misinformation is not. Let me try to clarify two issues.

Naming the Bren School

In 1991 the Regents of the University of California established at Santa Barbara this professional school, which admits and educates candidates for masters and doctoral degrees. In December 1997, the Donald Bren Foundation gave $15 million—the biggest gift ever to UCSB—to incorporate into the School’s educational program both the faculty and students of professional schools in law and business throughout the UC system.

On the recommendation of Chancellor Yang, the UCSB Academic Senate, and me, UC President Atkinson named the School of Environmental Science & Management after Donald Bren, a philanthropist and owner and chairman of the Irvine Company. Under his leadership, the Irvine Company gave 21,000 acres to the Nature Conservancy and the Department of Interior to set aside a 37,000-acre natural reserve. Mr. Bren is the largest single donor at two UC campuses, and he has endowed more chairs (15) in the UC system than any other benefactor. Among the holders of these endowed chairs is Irvine’s Sherwood Rowland, who won the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on depletion of stratospheric ozone by manmade chlorofluorocarbons.

The core approach of the Bren School is integration of perspectives—natural and social science, law, business, public policy—that equip students to tackle complex environmental issues. The naming of the School after Bren is consonant with the School’s core philosophy of integration. Students learn to see from the perspective of the ecologist and from the perspective of the developer. We bring both—indeed many—points of view to our students.

Multiple points of view in seeming conflict make students uncomfortable, but they experience as students the dilemmas of environmental professionals facing, say, a California population of 45 million people by 2020, along with a warmer climate. On the one hand, there is the commitment to preserve, even restore, the state’s natural environment. On the other hand, 50% more people than now must have housing, food, water, recreation, and transportation.

In the face of such momentous questions, UCSB has received a generous gift to help couple law, business, and public policy to natural and social science in the education of environmental professionals. Whether the School should be called "Bren" depends on whether law, business, and public policy are relevant to the education of an environmental scientist and manager.

I am proud of my role in linking UC Santa Barbara to the Donald Bren Foundation.

Bren Hall

Bren Hall will be the "greenest" building on campus by a wide margin. No other campus building meets the California Energy Commission’s 1999 Title 24 requirements for energy efficiency. We will surpass the current (1994) standard by 40%, and the new to-be-implemented standard by at least 20%. The Bren School has commissioned reviews of the building by the Rocky Mountain Institute, Southern California Edison, the Innovative Building Review Committee, the Sustainability Project, the California Energy Commission, and the Irvine Company. We have adopted many of their recommendations.

For energy efficiency, the building is sited and designed to harvest natural light, heating, and cooling. Facing the ocean, the offices have no air conditioning but instead rely on flow-through ventilation using operable windows. Daylight harvesting is coupled with a lighting plan that incorporates energy-efficient fixtures and bulbs, along with controls for motion and ambient light. The ventilation system for the laboratories is the most energy-efficient available. Glazed windows reduce the heat load, and the new multi-building virtual chilled water loop will provide cost-effective cooling for the laboratory wing. Finally, photovoltaic tiles on the roof will generate part of our energy needs and will return electricity to the grid when our production exceeds our demand.

The building makes extensive use of recycling and renewable resources. Mitsubishi has agreed to donate cement fueled by recycled tires instead of coal. The carpets, wallboard, ceiling tiles, furniture, and insulation will be made from recycled materials. Any wood paneling in the building will come from certified sustainable forest harvests. Toilets and urinals on the ground floor will use reclaimed water.

Our waste management system is innovative. We have designed our laboratories, storerooms and procedures to minimize the probabilities and consequences of spilling toxic materials. We are writing our construction specifications to require the selected contractor to separate and re-use waste to minimize debris transported from the site. We will use low-VOC paint and adhesives throughout, meeting standards that will not be widespread until 2007.

Finally, our landscaping will perform several functional tasks. It will shade and shelter the building, create outdoor spaces for discussion, use drought-tolerant native plants adapted to the coastal location, and use reclaimed water for irrigation. The required fire road around the building will be made from a permeable turf-block with a grass overlay. The bike path that goes through the construction site will be re-routed along Lagoon Road.

Bren Hall is a facility of much environmental merit, the best on campus and one of the best among buildings for teaching and research anywhere. It will set a high standard for future facilities at UCSB and other campuses.

Jeff Dozier, the founding dean of the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, taught in the Geography Department for 20 years and in the Environmental Studies program during its formative stages. In fall 2000, he will return to full-time teaching in the Bren School. Professor Dozier’s research on remote sensing and snow will help us manage our water supplies in the 21st century.

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