The OCC Recycling Center Plans for Exterior Sustainability Amenities

A team of sustainability experts have been working to develop plans for the outside space at the OCC Recycling Center.  The project has been designed for certification with the Sustainable SITES Initiative, a program that fosters sustainable land design and development.

A questionnaire was included on the OCC Recycling Center's social media and asked at several community events in-person during April and May to ask the community what types of programs and amenities they would like the Recycling Center to include. The questions were asked at Explore Merrimac, Movie Night, on Facebook and during activities focused around Earth Day.  The results were incorporated into the design. Over 170 responses were received and the community was interested in native plants, public art, interpretive signage and community opportunities at the OCC Recycling Center. Programs requested included how to be more sustainable, how to make your living space greener, organic gardening and native plant programs, tours and others which are being incorporated into plans for the future.

google earth satellite view of recycling center highlighting 9 areas of the recycling site.


The design will bring the Costa Mesa Community opportunities for a wide variety of environmental education and examples of how sustainable design of outdoor space can enhance learning and the world around us.  The plan for the site includes a native plant garden area, shown in green, will be planted with trees and plants such as Desert Willow, Tecate Cypress and California Live Oak, Milkweed, Black Sage, White Sage, California Wild Rose and Fuchsia Gooseberry, among others. This will serve to attract birds and butterflies, particularly the declining Monarch Butterfly that depends upon Milkweed for survival of its caterpillars. This area will be available for the community to visit and enjoy visually from Adams Avenue.

Amid the primary front planting of the OCC Recycling Center, are opportunities for public art centered around sustainability and the culture of Costa Mesa as "City of the Arts".  The OCC sculpture and art students and faculty are working on plans for this art, with recycled art areas shown within the native planting areas along the sides in teal on the plan.  Yellow areas of the plan are designated for recycled glass exhibits across the front of the Recycling Center which will be flat along the ground with mosaics and recycled glass patterns focused on educational information about recycled glass. 

A bioswale or arroyo area shown in orange will serve as a functional stormwater feature and amenity to teach about stormwater quality and runoff.  This area will be planted with Deer Grass and will include a rock swale that drains to an underground retention area (noted in blue on the plan) so as not to allow pollution into nearby natural water areas or the ocean.

Pink areas highlight the food production area, which will be used for organic gardening classes for OCC Students and the community, providing opportunities for the community to learn about farm to table gardening promoting healthier lifestyles.

The large brown area shown on the plan is an area for public education programs and events related to sustainable design and living.   OCC is planning for community events in this area for the future.  Interpretive signage to provide environmental education opportunities to students and the community during tours and events will be placed in each of these areas. 

The OCC Recycling Center is committed to sustainability and looks forward to bringing this design plan to the community in the near future. This is a chance for us to share the plans with our community and give you a chance to review the OCC Recycling Center's next steps towards a more sustainable world!