2861 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (Room 247) sustainablesystemsresearch@gmail.com 831.708.5836


“Designing and building a sustainable and just civilization…through pragmatic, well-designed, replicable, and scalable implementation of sustainable systems policy, education, research, and infrastructure”

SSRF strives to be an active supporter of our community’s goals to become more sustainable and just. We are developing a number of programs focused on the needs of the community, individuals, local organizations and businesses, as well as faculty, students and staff at UC Santa Cruz. We collaborate with organizations, agencies and projects that share our interests and goals. If you are interested in working with SSRF, please contact us.

Waste Not, Want Not

Waste Not, Want Not is an initiative to work with the University of California and the City and County of Santa Cruz to address the region’s waste management challenges.  SSRF is focusing on the procurement end of the materials flow cycle, since this is where careful product choices can have a significant impact on waste streams. If, for example, all containers and utensils flowing through a restaurant are readily compostable, customers don’t have to decide in which bin to put their wastes. And if businesses can provide reusable containers for bulk products, needless wrapping and bags are not necessary. You can find out more about this program here.

Accessory Dwelling Units in Our Backyards (ADUBs)

ADUBs represents an effort to increase affordable housing options in Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County by making backyard Accessory Dwelling Units and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units as common and as acceptable as sliced bread. ADUs and JADUs offer numerous advantages over more conventional projects to build new housing in the region (and across California). They do not require costly new land acquisition or significant infrastructural additions, because the homeowner already owns the construction site and utilities are accessible through the main house on the property.  The construction footprint is small, a number of affordable financing options are available, the unit can provide a respectable return on investment, and it can house tenants, family and even homeowners seeking to downsize. Here is a recent guest commentary in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. You can find out more about this program here and watch a promotional video here.

Sustainable Urban Food Initiative (SUFI)

SUFI supports urban agriculture and community farming, both of which are increasingly recognized as sustainable long-term alternative to the large-scale, corporate enterprises that provide most of the nation’s food.  Research has found that small-scale projects produce more and healthier food per acre, use resources more efficiently, and educate community members more effectively.  SUFI assists farmers and gardeners in their efforts to increase productivity through strategic application of a promising modular and scalable approach to high-performance community food production through hydroponics and real-time predictive irrigation sensors and controls, to provide comprehensive, ongoing documentation. You can learn more about SUFI here.

Ending Poverty in California with Solar (EPICS)

“EPICS” is designed to provide, by 2060, every individual in California with 10 kilowatts of installed solar photovoltaic panels and a monthly basic income, from birth to death and regardless of wealth and income, through the sale of the generated electricity. This is to be achieved by, first, giving every Californian with a share in the California Solar Energy Commons, linked to the total solar energy falling on the state; second, by assigning a 10kW solar photovoltaic array to every individual resident, from which sale of electricity will provide a basic income of $1,000 per month. You can learn more about EPICS here.

Other SSRF initiatives

Sustainability Project Design & Proposal Writing: SSRF offers workshops targeted to students and members of the public interested in launching green projects and social enterprises.  These events help participants to conceptualize a project and its goals and objectives; identify a constituency; assess project feasibility;  develop a business plan and project management infrastructure; develop funding and logistical project support; and implement project performance metrics. 

Green Incubator: SSRF makes workspace spaces available to local students seeking advice and support in creating and launching green projects and enterprises. Through contacts and collaborations with other agencies, businesses and organizations, the Green Incubator provides intellectual, technical and development assistance and contacts to foster a successful launch.

Solar Equipment Program: The City of Santa Cruz has generously donated hundreds of solar panels and dozens of inverters to SSRF. These panels previously powered the Santa Cruz Street Maintenance building. The city has decided to replace them with newer, more efficient models, but this equipment is still in great working condition. In partnership with local solar installers, we are offering this equipment to community members. All are welcome to apply, but we are currently prioritizing those who wish to use the equipment for charitable, educational, social business, or research purposes.

Hydroponics Program: We have enough hydroponics equipment available to produce nearly 2 tons of food per year, and are offering this equipment to community members. We can also provide installation and training for applicants who are unfamiliar with hydroponic systems. All are welcome to apply, but we are currently prioritizing those who wish to use the equipment for charitable, educational, social business, or research purposes.

After PG&E: (in development): Pacific Gas & Electric, the near-monopoly utility serving most of Northern California, has declared bankruptcy twice in the last two decades. Presently, a plan to take the utility our of bankruptcy is being implemented, although there are serious questions about who will benefit and whether the utility will be able to continue to provide reliable power. This project seeks to imagine and design the power system of the future–what will come “after PG&E”

Consulting: SSRF also offers below-market consulting services on a number of topics and issues. If you are interested in commissioning such work, please contact us (see below).

If you would like to schedule a project design and proposal writing session, visit our office, or inquire about solar and hydroponic equipment, please contact us at sustainablesystemsresearch@gmail.com or call 831-708-5836.