The Sustainable Systems Research Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit green think tank based in Santa Cruz, California. SSRF seeks to address complex and wicked environmental and sustainability problems that confound communities, defy singular technical or social solutions and cannot be addressed successfully at a global scale. We design, develop and deploy local projects and programs to promote community development through “citizen science and engineering.” We bring together numerous stakeholders with competing interests, capacities and approaches. We develop and pursue projects that are local, replicable and scalable, based on best practices and insights drawn from successful projects. We believe that if a project or program can be implemented successfully at one site, it can be replicated in other places, with appropriate adjustments to local conditions.
SSRF was founded in 2015 by Ronnie D. Lipschutz, Kevin W. Bell and Thomas Rettenwender.
SSRF’s primary goal is to become the “go-to” place for information about sustainability-related problems and solutions. Our education, research and policy efforts seek to provide accurate, comprehensive, and widely accessible information to the public about local problems and solutions. We seek the enhancement of regional environmental quality and sustainability through collaborative policy research and project development by way of our four programmatic areas: education; research; public policy, and project incubation. SSRF’s objectives are:
Objective 1: Education. SSRF’s education programs seek to offer high school and university students and post-graduates the knowledge and know-how to hone skills needed for success through hands-on training in sustainability-related systems design and development in areas such as energy, food, water, transportation, waste, and housing, among others.
Objective 2: Research. SSRF staff and interns conduct applied research focused on local and regional “wicked” problems and issues, such as waste management, recycling and waste, affordable housing development, sustainable urban agriculture and planning for the transition to renewable energy and power.
Objective 3: Public policy & advocacy: SSRF works on local environmental issues, such as the local recycling crisis, analyzes their causes and consequences, develops proposals to deal with them, and advocates for these proposals.
Objective 4: Project incubation. SSRF offers an intellectual environment, skills mentoring, and workspaces to engage and stimulate enterprising students, post-graduates and individuals who seek to launch sustainability-related projects, services and goods.