The smell of fresh plants and bird chirping fills the air. Students settle in for their Zoom meeting and utilize this collaborative space. Welcome to USC’s new Sustainability Hub.
The Hub is a new space that welcomes collaboration and innovation towards sustainable solutions. The grand opening will be at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, September 6. It is located in Student Union, Suite 101, where the USC Pharmacy was previously.
Outside of a space for cooperation, the Hub also intends to be a resource center where students can find out more about sustainability in general and on campus.
The Hub will include battery recycling and a shelf where students can take unclaimed DPS lost and found items, like sunglasses. Additionally, the space will be available for meetings and events. One of the current goals of the Hub is to grow with students and accommodate their future needs.
Inside is what USC’s Chief Sustainability Officer Mick Dalrymple calls a “hybrid-hoteling office space of the future.” There are pods for Zoom and two person meetings, open space with different sized tables and even a shared kitchen. Before the grand opening, the Hub already saw 30 to 40 students a day, according to Dalrymple.
The Hub was built with sustainable materials and finished with sustainable furniture to lower its carbon footprint. These include photo wall coverings that are made of biodegradable ink and Steelcase i2i Collaborative lounge chairs made from 99% recycled materials.
In the future, similar features will be considered for new construction projects on campus, but the needs and uses of each building will determine which principles are used, said Associate Director of Sustainability, Facilities Planning and Management Zelinda Welch. Currently, the same team from the Sustainability Hub is working on the fourth floor of the Student Union and using similar sustainable concepts, said Dalrymple.
This Hub is designed to include lots of plants, utilize its large windows and natural light, showcase images of nature (primarily California scenery), and is even equipped with a bird chirping noise machine. These are all aspects of biophilic design, which “support humans in a connection and love of nature,” said Dalrymple.
According to the 2023 USC Sustainability Survey results, which included USC student, faculty and staff respondents, over 75% of people claimed to have a “moderate or strong interest” in finding out more about sustainability. However, less than half stated that they knew of any sustainability initiatives and 38% showed interest in USC “sustainability efforts or groups” but were not part of any.
The Hub aims to bridge this gap for students of all disciplines.
Currently, the Hub is displaying student artwork from Roski School of Art Design and the Arts & Climate Collective on rotation. In the future, the space intends to host professor presentations and “brown bag” lunch events that will be open to the public. The intent is to “build those partnerships you never thought would exist,” said Welch
The Hub’s opening coincides with Green Week, a series of events which aim to engage the USC community in being more environmentally conscious. Both Green Week and the Hub are part of USC’s conceptual sustainability initiative, Assignment: Earth.
The plan is for Hub to become the “symbolic and physical home for Assignment: Earth,” said Dalrymple. “This is about interdisciplinary working together towards solutions.” The space welcomes all students interested in sustainable solutions.
The USC Sustainability Hub’s hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday.