Co-Op to Undergo Green Makeover

Photo: Kingman Hall is receiving renovations, funded by the Berkeley Student Cooperative, that will make the co-op more environmentally friendly.
Anna Vignet/Staff
Kingman Hall is receiving renovations, funded by the Berkeley Student Cooperative, that will make the co-op more environmentally friendly.

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Residents of Kingman Hall will be coming home to cleaner, greener digs in the fall after the co-op undergoes an eco-friendly makeover this summer.

The Berkeley Student Cooperative will soon begin sprucing up Kingman with the aim of reducing the building's greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent. The renovations will put the co-op in compliance with Measure G, a 2006 Berkeley initiative that requires the city to create a plan to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 2000 emission levels by 2050.

The retrofits - part of the cooperative's larger effort to make all 20 of their buildings more energy efficient by the end of the decade - will include replacing the current heating and air conditioning system with high-efficiency furnaces, adding insulation, retrofitting the windows in the common area and installing thermostat-controlled showerheads.

The upgrades will be funded with the cooperative's own money, though the Berkeley City Council recommended at its June 1 meeting that the cooperative be given $30,000 to retrofit another cooperative building.

Jan Stokley, the cooperative's executive director, said she hopes the cooperative can raise the money for the retrofit effort solely through energy savings and alumni donations.

"We're not going to fund this through fee hikes," Stokley said. "We're trying our best to keep these (co-ops) as affordable as possible because of tuition hikes."

Stokley said there is a lot of enthusiasm among co-op residents for the renovations.

"People really turned out for the City Council meeting on Tuesday night," she said. "They spoke to the need to do this and really showed that this is doable and that we all need to start doing it now."

Though UC Berkeley will not be involved in the Kingman Hall renovation, Christine Shaff, communications director for the Department of Facilities Services, said the campus would oversee any future retrofit of the two buildings located on land owned by the university.

The council will vote on June 22 whether to include $30,000 in the budget for the cooperatives' proposed second retrofit. Stokley said it has not yet been decided which co-op would receive this funding.

She added that the cooperative hopes to fund future retrofits in part with money saved through the "greener" renovations.

In order for the organization to remain in compliance with Measure G, it will have to renovate all 20 co-ops within the next 10 years. The first short-term target for measure is to reduce city emissions by 33 percent by 2020.

The cooperative has committed to retrofitting one building per year, but at this rate, half of the residential units will fail to meet the 2020 emissions reduction goal, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

But even if the cooperative does not manage to finish all 20 buildings by 2020, there will not be any negative consequences.

"There's no penalty if you fail," Worthington said. "People from the co-op are saying 'we want to do our part, we want to make sure we meet or surpass the goal' ... (The $30,000 grant) would be a big carrot to help them - no, it's like a one-year supply of carrot juice. It's way bigger than a carrot."

Stokley said she is confident all co-ops will be retrofitted by 2020 and predicts more sustainability projects in the future.

"I'm sure that even after we've accomplished what we know now we need to do, there will be something new on the horizon," she said. "Our commitment to sustainability is long-term."


Contact Gianna Albaum at [email protected]

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