Santa Clara University

Press Releases

Culture of sustainability

A “living green roof” grows atop the university's first totally green building, complete with straw bale walls and a solar chimney. A box full of worms, busily gnawing on food waste, doubles as a coffee table in the Campus Ministry office. And in Iris Stewart-Frey’s Water Wars of California class students explore how 200 years of population growth, water privatization, pollution, and profit have affected the natural waterscape of California.

More than 25 percent of SCU’s internal faculty research funds were dedicated to sustainability research in 2007- 2008. Such efforts have measurably cut SCU energy and utility costs. Potable water consumption per square foot of building space has dropped at least 10 percent in recent years; and energy costs have dropped 14 percent since 2003, despite campus growth of 12 percent.

Building a solar house for the Department of Energy

Students are also designing, engineering, and building a fully functional, solar-powered, 800-square-foot house for the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon.

Every two years, the DOE selects 20 teams from universities and colleges around the world to compete in the Solar Decathlon. Judges grade the teams in 10 areas: architecture, engineering, market viability, communications, comfort, appliances, hot water, lighting, energy balance, and transportation

Santa Clara University surprised the world when it took third place in the 2007 Solar Decathlon competition beating MIT , Cornell, and two-time, decathlon winner University of Colorado in Boulder.

S.L.U.R.P: Sustainable Living Undergraduate Project

Students at Santa Clara can take a course in Environmental Ethics, or join any number of student projects such as the Sustainable Living Undergraduate Project, where students living on one floor of a campus dorm dedicate themselves to living more environmentally responsibly.

They share weekly dinners in their community kitchen, with meals made mostly from organic ingredients, and try to take the stairs more often than the elevator. They recycle, of course, and even encourage each other to take short showers. Students lead Tai Chi and meditation sessions and regularly host talks to improve their understanding of environmental issues.

“There is a culture of sustainability on this campus that encourages students to think about the decisions they make and how those decisions impact the lives of others. It goes to the heart of the college experience of developing the person you are and will one day become,” said Lindsey Cromwell, sustainability coordinator.

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