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San Francisco's EcoCenter Receives National Recognition, U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Award

Release Date: 12/15/2010
Contact Information: (MEDIA) Mary Simms,, 415-947-4270

EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park is the first and only “off-grid” facility in southeast San Francisco, and the first and only environmental justice education center in the Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, EPA recognized partnerships in San Francisco, San Diego, Puerto Rico, Oregon and Minneapolis for their contributions to advancing environmental justice in communities. EPA's National Achievements in Environmental Justice Awards Program recognizes partnerships that address local environmental justice concerns and result in positive environmental and human health benefits in communities.

The goal of the agency’s National Achievements in Environmental Justice Awards is to encourage communities to form partnerships, work together to solve problems, identify and take actions that directly benefit the community residents, and document successful activities that can be used in other communities to address significant environmental justice concerns.

"Environmental justice is a key priority for our Region, and we applaud the efforts of our California award winners to improve their overburdened communities from the ground up," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "Their focus on educating citizens about local environmental challenges demonstrates the power of collaboration and partnership."

“The recipients of this year’s environmental justice awards have developed projects that empower communities to participate in environmental decision-making and serve as models for other communities working to address environmental justice concerns,” said Lisa Garcia, senior advisor to the administrator and associate assistant administrator for environmental justice. “These partnerships help advance efforts to make our communities healthier and economically and environmentally sustainable.”

Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ), a community-based environmental education organization in Bayview Hunters Point, is a recipient of a 2010 US EPA Environmental Justice Achievement Award.

The EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park Partnership in San Francisco, Calif. was recognized for creating an environmental justice education center for use by the residents San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point and other communities with environmental justice concerns.

The EcoCenter is the first environmental education center in the Bay Area that focuses on environmental justice, and plays a major role in eco-literacy training for students, teachers, and communities in San Francisco. It is dedicated to teaching the principles of environmental justice through demonstration.

The EcoCenter is accessible to a significant number of residents, and is located in an area of the city where the greatest number of children and youth live. The EcoCenter teaches that design and architecture have a responsibility to go beyond aesthetics to play a regenerative role in communities that have been burdened by environmental problems. It has its own wastewater treatment system, generates its own energy and heat, and maximizes the use of natural light.

The EcoCenter serves a community experiencing great environmental distress from a legacy of military operations, power generation, and industrial operations. It is a central resource where environmental education organizations can offer programs and provide participants with tools for critical thinking about urban sustainability, environmental stewardship and advocacy.

LEJ Board Chair Deanna Rossi said, "The EcoCenter demonstrates how LEJ combines fighting environmental injustice with building tangible community assets. This is a space created with the central purpose of building up the strength and health of this community—Literacy for Environmental Justice is building a new green legacy for southeast San Francisco, making a positive impact on environmental, public, and economic health and providing a model for environmental justice communities throughout the country.”

Designed by Toby Long Design, nearly every feature of the EcoCenter’s 1,500 square feet is innovative and used to educate the public about renewable energy, pollution and greenhouse gas reduction, wastewater treatment, “green” building materials, and the green economy. The EcoCenter incorporates residential-scale alternative technologies that take it off the utilities grid, in the section of San Francisco with the least access to the kinds of financial and technical resources that make such cutting-edge demonstration projects feasible.

Additional 2010 awardees include:

Lead Poisoning Prevention Citizen’s Advisory Task Force, San Diego, Calif.—for empowering communities to conduct lead hazard control work in environmental justice communities and ensuring the protection of children from the threat of lead-based paint and dust.

ENLACE Caño Martín Peña, San Juan, Puerto Rico—for establishing and implementing a land use and comprehensive development plan to improve social, economic, and environmental conditions for eight communities in the Caño Martín Peña Special Planning District.

Oregon Environmental Justice Task Force, across Oregon—for effective implementation of the state’s environmental justice legislation and its ability to incorporate environmental justice considerations into state agency programs.

Transportation Equity/Stops for Us Coalition, St. Paul, Minn.—for its efforts to form a broad-based partnership to secure the construction of three new light rail transit stations, which will provide access for the transit dependent communities of East University Avenue, connecting residents to housing, jobs, education and the many amenities located throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan region.

More information on the National Achievements in Environmental Justice Awards:
See more photos of this project at