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SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – When the $55 million Santa Cruz Federal Credit Union decided it would have to expand its facilities to meet its growth, the credit union resolved that it would not simply build new space and add to the potential sprawl of its Southern California community but instead would renovate a nearby building in as “green friendly” a way as possible. The new headquarters building is about a block away from the credit union’s first headquarters and about doubles the credit union’s space, from roughly 7,500 square feet to a bit over 15,000, Sheila Schat, Director of Community Outreach and Marketing for the credit union estimated. Before the credit union purchased and renovated the structure, it held a dual screen movie theatre, Schat explained. Further, the community development credit union knew that many of its members would be concerned that the credit union renovate the building in as an environmentally friendly way. The credit union used design elements including window glazing, reflective illumination, and skylights to promote energy efficiency, among other factors. These efforts cut its energy costs, helping the credit union earn a rebate from its energy utility for surpassing energy saving standards by 27%, Schat explained. “I wouldn’t say we got a great deal on the new building,” said, “but for what we wanted to do it fit our needs very well.” Schat said. The credit union also used steel from recycled cars and not wood for framing, she added. Some of the flooring is made out of recycled tires and the credit union’s elevator used vegetable oil as an alternative to hydraulic fluid to avoid possible soil contamination in the future. “We did this to save money in the long run and because our members expect it.after all, this is Santa Cruz,” Schat noted. The credit union needed the new building because of the degree of growth it has achieved as it worked to serve lower income people in one of the wealthiest and highest cost counties in the U.S. In the decade since 1993, the SCCCU has moved from $19 million in assets to over $54 million today. “The lower income people in our field of membership are low income both by our area’s standards and by the national standards,” Schat said, pointing out that while Santa Cruz county has among the highest incomes and housing costs, those tended to be concentrated in the northern part of the county. The southern part of the county has many of the residents whose labor makes a lot of the northern county wealth possible, Schat explained. The migrant workers who pick the county’s crops and keep its landscapes blooming and attractive, she noted, as well as the service workers for the area live in the southern part of the county. “Those are the lower income populations we reach out to with financial education and services,” Schat said. [email protected]

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