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Santa Clara University Receives Silver Rating for Sustainability Achievements

Monday, Jan. 31, 2011
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Jan. 31, 2011—Santa Clara University scored high marks in the STARS program, the nation’s first comprehensive sustainability rating system for colleges and universities. STARS, developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), stands for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System. It’s a voluntary, self-assessment tool to gauge progress toward sustainability on college and university campuses.
SCU is one of 242 higher education institutions in the STARS program, and received a silver rating, which is determined by surveying three overall areas: (1) education and research; (2) operations; and (3) planning, administration, and engagement.
SCU has pursued many initiatives in the past decade to become more sustainable. They include:
  • Installing a smart microgrid, which ties its power source, transmission distribution, and even consumption data to weather reports, thereby maximizing energy savings;
  • Installing solar panels and a wind turbine;
  • Purchasing wind power;
  • Building its first LEED certified building;
  • Upgrading lighting and HVAC systems across campus to improve building energy efficiency;
  • Re-painting buildings with a coating system that reduces cooling costs by up to 21.9 percent;
  • Enforcing building temperature set points (68 degrees F for heating, 78 degrees F for cooling);
  • Adopting water conservation practices, such as using recycled water for irrigation purposes and replacing old urinals and toilets with ones that are waterless or ones that use reclaimed water;
  • Encouraging the use of reusable water bottles by providing water filling stations in populated campus locations;
  • Changing custodial cleaning hours from late night to early mornings to reduce the amount of electricity used by buildings overnight; and
  • Creating a paperless writing center, where an interactive whiteboard allows students to project text from their laptop onto the board via Bluetooth technology.
SCU is also educating its students in and outside the classroom to help them develop a deeper understanding about sustainability and its environmental, economic, and social impact on the world. In 2009, the University launched a new core curriculum that engages students in sustainability, sustainable building design, and using the campus as a living lab. SCU created the Frugal Innovation Laboratory that fosters development and application of technologies in clean energy, clean water, public health, and mobile applications, in ways that meet the needs of marginalized communities worldwide. The University also engages its students in on- and off-campus activities that promote sustainability and increase awareness such as RecycleMania!, Residence Energy Challenge, and the Solar Decathlon.
“In all our initiatives, Santa Clara University looks at sustainability not just through an environmental lens but also in a framework of social justice, examining how sustainability can be just and economically viable,” says SCU President Michael Engh, S.J.
A STARS rating is valid for three years, but institutions may choose to submit its data as often as once per year.
About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley. Santa Clara offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s degrees in a number of professional fields, law degrees, and engineering and theology doctorates. Distinguished by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, Santa Clara educates leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion grounded in faith-inspired values. Founded in 1851, Santa Clara is California’s oldest operating institution of higher education. For more information, see
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that is working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation by providing resources, professional development, and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit
Media Contact
Connie Kim Coutain | | 408-554-5126 O | 408-829-4836 C

Tags: AASHE, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, rating, Silver, STARS, sustainability

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