UCSB will take the first step toward sustainability today, with the help of an outside firm hired to whip the campus into environmental shape.

Students, faculty and staff can hear a presentation from Brightworks Northwest — a Portland-based environmental consultant company — about methods by which the university could make campus more environmentally sustainable at 8:30 p.m. in Buchanan Hall, room 1910. Brightworks will present a program titled Natural Step, which analyzes the purchasing practices of an institution and then makes suggestion on how these methods could be more friendly toward the environment, Perrin Pellegrin, campus sustainability coordinator, said.

Pellegrin said Natural Step was developed in Sweden in 1989, and has since been used by corporations such as Starbucks and Nike. The program will be part of the university’s Campus Sustainability Plan, which seeks to improve campus life by reducing waste on campus and encouraging the use of environmentally safe products, said Scott MacKenzie, campus sustainable procurement coordinator.

“Through resource efficiency and conservation [and] by using less, we are saving more,” MacKenzie said. “By using environmentally preferable products we are minimizing our waste stream, improving quality of health, and reducing our ecological footprint. All these factors equal savings for the university.”

MacKenzie said purchasing Energy Star certified products are an example of how the university can improve its environmental standards.

“Using a thousand Energy Star printers with features enabled over regular printers could save $50,000 in energy costs over a five year lifespan,” MacKenzie said. “And that’s just printers, there are a lot of little steps we can take.”

Today’s presentation will also introduce the 12 campus committees — composed of three to four people — that were created to focus on such areas of campus life as facilities management, food services and transportation, said Katie Maynard Sustainability Education and Outreach Coordinator.

Eric Cummings, Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) co-chair and fourth-year English major, said the Campus Sustainability Plan will be a subsection of the campus’ new Long Range Development Plan, which will be released later this year. The plan regulates construction and expansion on campus for the next 30 years.

Cummings said EAB will be working extensively this year on campus sustainability plans.

“Our goal is to create a lifestyle that is sustainable for the future, and that will allow us to live in harmony with the environment,” Cummings said. “Our main focus is to work on the sustainability plan and to lobby for it.”