Santa Clara University

Markkula Center

A Sunny Future

Fellowships in environmental ethics

Solar-Decathlon

Even when you’re involved in the worthy project of building a sustainable, solar-powered house, the materials you use can raise ethical red flags. That was the finding of Allie Sibole, 2012-13 environmental ethics fellow at the Center, who worked with the University’s Solar Decathlon team as they competed in a contest to build the most cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive house.

Allie-Sibole Sibole, who analyzed seven different building materials, found many ethical issues that had to be balanced when selecting what to use in the house. For example, SCU’s entry in the competition was unique in using bamboo as a structural material. Bamboo grows quickly and is affordable, but transporting it from overseas adds energy costs, Sibole found. 
Melissa-Giorgi The Center’s other 2012-13 Environmental Ethics Fellow, Missy Giorgi, focused her efforts on working with communities to make solar power more accessible. Doing outreach in San Jose, she said, “Educators, city officials, residents, and service workers all shared their experiences with the complexities of bringing renewable energy to fruition in neighborhoods with older buildings, lower incomes, and more rented homes.”

Giorgi and Sibole’s fellowships were made possible by a gift from John and Joan Casey. The Caseys have been supporting the Environmental Ethics Fellowship Program since 2005. The fellows focus on environmental issues on the SCU campus, such as green building and organic gardening.

"Joan and I are very aware that our global environment is under attack from a wide variety of special interests," John Casey said. "SCU's Radiant House entry in the Solar Decathlon used an ethical evaluation to select optimum materials, which serves as an example for the building industry.  We all must do something, no mater how great or small, since that is the only way we can preserve our planet for succeeding generations."

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