Resources for Sustainability Research

SBCC Student Sustainability Coalition poster.

About this Guide

This resource has been created by the Luria Library faculty, in conjunction with Environmental Science students and the staff of the Center for Sustainability at Santa Barbara City College, to provide information about and access to materials on campus, online and in the community in the areas of sustainability.
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Library Tutorials

Interested in learning more about the library on your own?
Explore the library’s online tutorials.

Keywords to Use in Searches

The study of sustainability can be complicated by the many related subject terms. The following list of standard terms can help your searches find more relevant results.

    Capitalism — Environmental aspects — United States
    Climatic changes
    Community development
    Conservation biology
    Conservation of natural resources
    Economic development — Environmental aspects
    Environmental Education
    Environmental justice
    Environmental philosophy
    Industrial management — Environmental aspects.
    Nature conservation — United States
    Population — Environmental aspects
    Population policy
    Social responsibility of business
    Sustainable agriculture
    Sustainable architecture
    Sustainable development
    Sustainable forestry
    Sustainable fisheries
    Sustainable development — International cooperation

Print Reference Books

These books are available in the Luria Library Reference section and contain background information. Find them at the call number listed below:

    Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability — R 363.7003 S964b 2010
    Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage — R 363.72803 Z76e 2012
    Encyclopedia of Environmental Isues — R 363.7003 A4346e 2011
    Encyclopedia of pollution — R 363.73 G259e 2011
    Encyclopedia of Sustainability — R 363.7003 C699e 2010
    Encyclopedia of the U.S. Government and the Environment: History, Policy, and Politics — R 363.7056 L753e 2011
    Encyclopedia of Water Politics and Policy in the United States — R 333.91 D196e 2011

Online Reference Sources

The library also subscribes to some online reference sources, including the following general reference database. To access this resource from off campus, you will need to log in with your Pipeline account information.

Searching for Books

Search the library catalog (books+) for print books and ebooks on sustainability topics. Check the keywords tab in this guide for suggestions about how to search.


Search for articles on your topic in our library databases:

    Academic Search Complete
    Provides full text for more than 8,500 periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals), including full text for nearly 7,300 peer-reviewed titles, in all subject areas. The database includes PDF content going back as far as 1887. Searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,400 journals.

    Science Full Text Select
    Provides full text for more than 400 journals dating as far back as 1994. Subject coverage includes agriculture & agricultural research, atmospheric science, biochemistry, biology, biotechnology, botany, chemistry, environmental science, geology, marine biology microbiology, physics and much more.

    Opposing Viewpoints
    An excellent source of pro/con information, providing opinions and other information on hundreds of today’s hottest social issues. Includes continuously updated viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, statistics, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites.

    CQ Researcher
    An excellent source of pro/con information, containing single-themed reports on issues in the news. Provides in-depth, unbiased coverage of both sides of controversial issues.

Evaluating Websites

Figuring out whether the information you find online is credible enough for college research can be challenging. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation Questions to help you determine whether the sources you find are credible.

Suggested Websites


    The Biomass Power Association
    The nation’s leading organization working to expand and advance the use of clean, renewable biomass power.

    Santa Barbara Permaculture Network
    Local information on permaculture and the practicality of bio-fuels.

    Sustainable Energy: Without the Hot Air
    A book by David McKay (downloadable PDF file) regarding sustainable energy and policy.

    The Thorium Energy Alliance
    A nonprofit, educational advocacy organization composed of engineers, scientists, and concerned citizens interested in reducing the cost of energy and protecting the health of the planet. Their objective is to lay the foundation for a Thorium energy future, which is a new type of sustainable energy.



    The Climate Institute
    Innovative and practical solutions for climate change adaptation, mitigation, and climate stabilization based on scientific research and collaboration among policymakers, scientists, the public and environmental institutions at the local, national, and international levels.

    Earth Policy Institute
    Cited by environmental advocates, policymakers and journalists alike, the Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides articles, data resources, and free downloadable books on their website.

    Public Policy Institute of California
    A nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research.

    Waging Peace
    A website created by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) organization, based in Santa Barbara, that supports the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Sustainable Consumption:


    Sea Level Rise Viewer
    Hosted by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), this web mapping tool helps visualize coastal flooding due to climate change.

    PMEL Carbon Program
    A website created by PMEL (Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory) to spread knowledge about ocean acidification, ocean carbon uptake, ocean carbon storage, and coastal carbon dynamics. There are many research-based articles on this site.

    Is Sea Level Rising?
    Hosted by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), this web page provides credible information and links about sea level change from climate change, including local sea level trends.

    U.S. Geological Survey Water Quality Information
    Provides scientific and technical expertise, leadership, and coordination in addressing issues concerning the quality of the Nation’s water resources. This particular site addresses information about water quality, groundwater, and coastal zones.

Local Organizations and Agencies:


Alexander Street Press Videos
Provides online access to nearly 43,000 academic videos (over 20,000 hours) in a wide range of subjects and disciplines, including environmental sustainability.




    Cadillac Desert (Jon Else and Linda Harrar 1997)
    A film about the drought in California’s Central Valley, disappearing groundwater, and what Americans have been doing to preserve the water that is left.

    Someplace with a Mountain (Steve Goodall 2011)
    A film reviewed by SBCC students about the impacts of rising sea levels.


Podcasts can provide information on current social issues. The following news interview shows often touch on issues in sustainability:

Citation Guidelines

Below are some resources for creating citations for sources found on the internet and through library databases. More resources are available on the Citation Guides page.


Keep the conversation going, online and in person:

    The SBCC Center for Sustainability is the continuation of a collaborative effort among Continuing Education led by Kris Power, local community organizations, the Environmental Studies program, the Student Sustainability Coalition, and other SBCC staff members. Education in environmental and social responsibility has long been a focus of SBCC and the surrounding community.

    Second Nature works to create a sustainable society by transforming higher education. This organization accelerates movement toward a sustainable future by serving and supporting college students and university leaders in making healthy, just, and sustainable living the foundation of all learning and practice in higher education.