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Sustainability Without Borders: WIJABA, USGBC-LA & ANEW

Landfill to Libraries: Sustainable Social Design

The Sustainability Without Borders community partnership represents a strong collaboration between WIJABA, ANEW and USGBC-LA. These three non-profit organizations joined their efforts and individual missions to maximize resources, achieving what no individual organization could: a project to build 15 libraries in the state Chihuahua, Mexico.

 USGBC-LA, led by Executive Director Dr. Jorge Partida, is the Los Angeles chapter of the US Green Building Council. As innovators of the LEED rating system, USGBC is committed to a prosperous, sustainable planet through cost-efficient, energy-saving green buildings.

WIJABA (The World is Just a Book Away), founded by USC Professor James Owens, is driven by its mission to build libraries in countries devastated by need and poverty. WIJABA began its mission in Indonesia and has now expanded its building and cultural programs to Mexico.

The libraries in Chihuahua, an area beset by poverty and drug war violence, provide local children a place to learn and grow. Libraries will be furnished with repurposed furniture and new carpeting through the tireless work of Rose Tourje, Founder and President of ANEW. By stewarding corporate surplus furniture and equipment to non-profits, charities, and public agencies globally, ANEW helps these organizations further their missions and strengthen communities. In this project surplus furniture is diverted from landfill and becomes a valuable asset for providing young readers and future leaders a nurturing community center.

The libraries feature WIJABA’s color scheme of bright yellow, blue and green. USGBC-LA provides design, architecture and sustainability support to the project, while ANEW orchestrates the complex interior details required to ensure the children are able to enjoy the benefits of their new libraries. The experience inspires minds not only in Mexico but also in Los Angeles, where three local schools were selected as sister schools, providing an opportunity for cultural exchange.

Rose, James and Jorge have developed a solid partnership and become great friends. They shared their collaborative experience in a panel presentation at Dwell On Design 2013 in Los Angeles. By working together, ANEW, USGBC-LA and WIJABA have proven that sustainability and design can create friendships, open young minds, and transcend borders.

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