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Sustainable Living Undergraduate Research Project

2011-12 Projects

  • Carbon travel offsets. Photo courtesy of SLURP 2011-2012. Creating Carbon Offsets for Faculty and Athletic Travel to Help Santa Clara Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2015

     By: Carlton Gossett, Athan Hsiao, Blake Leamy, Sean Mohr, Lawrence Tse

    Carbon offsets, a method unused for SCU travel, offers potential in helping Santa Clara reach its goal to become carbon neutral by 2015. We investigated the feasibility of using carbon offsets to eliminate the emissions caused by student athlete and English department travel. More specifically, we constructed 3 proposals with varying aspects such as price, type of offsets, profit vs. non-profit. We tailored a program to fit SCU’s needs. We researched proposals in which sports and faculty travel are offset based on the sum of miles traveled. We believe that this administrative approach will allow for more fluid, future investment in carbon offsets.

  • Freshmen Orientation. Photo courtesy of SCU Facebook page. Keeping Freshman Orientation Fresh

     By: Dana Kilsby, Keely Graskamp, Kyle Calabria, Max Williamson, Sophie Won

    Our research project was founded on the belief that current freshmen summer orientation does not contribute to the University’s effort to become carbon neutral by 2015. The goal of our research project, Keeping Freshman Orientation Fresh, is to discover whether or not moving orientation to the week prior to fall quarter compliments the Climate Neutrality Action Plan crafted by Santa Clara University in 2010.

  • Bettering Benson. Photo courtesy of SLURP 2011-2012.Bettering Benson: Promoting Sustainable Behaviors in our Dining Environment

     By: Kathryn Jacobs, Ellen Yun, Claire Harvey, William Whitesides, Genevieve Magnan

    Santa Clara University's sustainability policy highlights environmental stewardship, education, and service. SCU spends 30 percent of our food budget on local products, and purchases exclusively cage-free eggs, sustainably harvested seafood, as well as hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, milk, chicken, and turkey breast. We feel that our dining and recycling services could be modified to create less waste. The purpose of our study was to discover possible ways of improving the Benson dining system in order to help students make sustainable choices. We focused on the students waste, specifically concerning excess food, disposable containers, and Bensonware theft.


2010-11 Projects

  • compostThe 3 C's: Compost, Compost, Compost

    By: Maggie Anderson, Laura Beck, Mimi Sanicola

    In 2009, Santa Clara University adopted an on-campus composting program as part of efforts to strengthen the culture of sustainability and achieve a zero-waste model on campus. In this study, we sought to learn more about students’ barriers to, perceptions of, and participation in composting programs to identify ways to strengthen the on-campus composting program and help inform the creation of a municipal program in Santa Clara.

  • zipcarBay Area, Play Area: SCU Students’ Perceptions and Usage of Public Transportation

    By: Eric DeFina, Veronica Rodriguez & Michelle Tang

    The goal of our project was to understand SCU students’ behaviors and perceptions of public transportation in order to improve students’ usage of these systems and decrease environmental impact when traveling off-campus. Our project began by studying past research about types of transportation programs such as bike sharing, car pooling, and university transit passes that other universities offered their students. We learned about the programs’ implementation on various university campuses and the feedback they received from their students. With this in mind, we aimed to discover the potential barriers to SCU students’ usage of public transportation in order to promote sustainable student travel in and around the Bay Area.

  • paper stackPromoting Double (Siding) Standards

    By: Navjot Grewal

    Santa Clara University is a campus that prides itself on becoming sustainable and actively seeks to minimize its environmental impact. The campus has taken an active role in providing as many opportunities to recycle and compost as possible, however, there is still significant waste of paper. One potential avenue for reducing waste would be to promote double sided copying and printing. While most university printers do provide an option to print papers in duplex most students do not know how to access the option. This lack of knowledge and lack of resources educating students prove to be a major obstacle in decreasing the amount of paper generated on SCU’s campus.

  • doublesidedprintingSave [1/2] the Trees

    By: Emma Kent, Christian Moreno, Claire Ryan, & Scout Tweedie-Yates

    The Problem: Even environmentally conscious students don’t often use or understand double-sided printing options at Santa Clara University.

    The Purpose: We wanted to look further into educating ourselves and others on double-sided printing. 

    Existing Resources: 

    • SCU installed a new printing system during Winter term 2011 capable of duplex printing
      • We were not clearly informed of this
      • The printers with this capability are primarily in the Learning Commons
    The Goal:
    • Understand the options
    • Educate students about the availability and help them understand how to use this feature
    • Find the best ways to reduce paper use for all in the University
  • gardenburgerMeatless Mondays, Sustainable Food Initiative

    By: Dillon McCord, Miguel Allende, Sam Bayless, Alex Nouaux, Carina Fernandes

    What we eat may have a bigger impact on the environment than any of our other actions. So what can we do to eat more sustainably? Our project sought to encourage sustainable eating habits at SCU and determine the most effective ways of promoting food sustainability. Our initial research showed that eating less meat was the most effective way of reducing energy use, water use, and carbon emissions. In fact, the meat and dairy industry is responsible for emitting more CO2 than every single car, truck, bus, plane, ship, and train in the world combined. It takes about 15lbs of CO2 just to produce 1lb of beef. Based on this information, we decided to launch a Meatless Mondays campaign on campus. Giving up meat for a day is something everyone can do, and something that has a real impact on the environment.


2009-10 Projects

  • footprintCarbon Footprint Calculator

    By Samantha Juda, Christina Lesnick, and Tim Vierengel

    The objective of our project is to feature an accessible, easy to use, reflective carbon footprint calculator. Our carbon footprint calculator focuses on Santa Clara University students. The conventional carbon calculator is geared toward the home or apartment, neglecting students living in dorms. College students need to be aware of their carbon footprints; awareness is the first step to change. The development of a carbon calculator for college students at SCU will advance the University’s commitment to sustainability within the President’s Sustainability Initiative and will enhance the University’s mission to educate students for life.

    Link opens PDF poster

  • energy reportEnergy Report 2010

    By Sami Tasaki, Adrienne Lohe, Cathy Suzuki, Bianca Johnson, Irene Sheh

    The purpose of this project is to see what factors are effective in reducing energy consumption in Swig Hall. Our group wanted to determine the effectiveness of several persuasive methods in reducing energy consumption. We were also interested in the effect of Smart Strips on energy use in Swig. We felt that a study on energy consumption was appropriate and important to the building for many reasons. First, we are always told how to save energy and encouraged to “go green” through events such as the Energy Challenge. Our group wanted to know if these events actually made a difference in energy usage both during and after the campaigns. Because Swig Hall houses such a large population of students, it is important to make sure that our actions are positively affecting the Santa Clara campus.

    Link opens PDF poster

  • access partnersSustainable ACCESS Partners

    By Spencer Muscelli & Natasha Gupta

    Integrating business with sustainability, our project involves work with Santa Clara University ACCESS partners to develop sustainable practice guidelines. Our goal is to educate businesses about the benefits of sustainability, with a focus on those directly associated with the university; it is a positive reflection on the university’s sustainability initiative. In the long run, we look to craft a ‘green partner’ policy rewarding community businesses for adopting our guidelines. This year our project involved showing the businesses resources (suppliers, cost/benefit analyses) and models (City of SF, etc.) of entities adopting these policies. Our ultimate objective is to provide solutions to becoming a more sustainable business while considering the bottom line—profit.

    Link opens PDF poster.

  • discretionary energy pie chartPower Consumption

    By Sean Yepez and Alex Kovac

    At Santa Clara, there are numerous efforts aiming at saving electricity in our various buildings. Energy competitions and informational posters encourage students to turn off lights and reduce use of electronics. In this year’s energy competition, dorms competed to reduce their total energy use from the year prior.

    Yet, what was being measured was total energy use, not discretionary energy use in the dormitories. Given the immense fixed energy usage of residence halls like Swig, it was difficult to reduce overall consumption significantly. In our project we wanted to break down this measurement into two parts:
    • Discretionary energy use, use that students have control over
    • Fixed energy use, use that the building equipment consumes regardless of student activity (common lights, climate control, water heaters).
    Link opens PDF report.

2008-09 Projects

  • slurp dishesBring Me Home (dining practices)

    By Krislyn Aki, Victoria Campos, Chloe Fitzmaurice, Alex Hierl, Annette Ochoa, Amanda Vasquez

    The objective of our project was to examine current problems and find viable solutions to promote sustainable and economically friendly dining practices at Bon Appétit Dining Services. Once we learned how severe Bon Appétit’s loss of reusable dishware was, our first goal became determining alternate solutions to the current collection system.

    Link opens PDF poster.

  • solar chartAssessment of Roofspace for PV Panels at SCU

    By Alexander Ray, Caitlin Millar, John Seubert, Laughlin Barker, and Russell McIntosh

    We chose this project for the purpose of discovering where the most solar energy can be harvested on campus, as Santa Clara University seeks to reach one megawatt of solar energy in the future. We researched the viability of several buildings scattered throughout campus to see not only if we could reach 1 MW, but also how we could most efficiently harvest the energy. Initial consultations were conducted with the Head University Architect, Don Akerland, and the Assistant Vice President of University Operations, Joe Sugg.

    Link opens PDF poster.


2007-08 Projects

Individual or research teams created posters to summarize their research. Click on the titles below to download a pdf of their posters.

  • plasticBring Your Own Bottle

    By Jasmine Blaine, Alexandra Burkhuch, Mitchell Klipa, and Uyen Mai

    The objective of this project was to determine whether the installations of a water fountain and an Arrowhead dispenser in Swig could reduce plastic water bottle consumption. We found that installations were effective. Moreover, survey results indicate that residents were enthusiastic about the installations and would like to see a fountain/dispenser installed on all floors of Swig in the future.

    Link opens PDF poster.

  • tourThe Culture of Sustainability

    By Meghan D. Mooney

    This study aims to explore how students, faculty and staff understand, define, and express environmental values. This research explores the lived experience of SCU community members as they do or do not embody—in belief or practice—the environmental awareness and values present at the institutional level. The following questions will be addressed:

    • Is sustainability an issue of personal and ethical importance to the community?
    • What do people think it means to be an environmentalist – do they consider themselves environmentalists?
    • How do people define and understand sustainability?
    • Is there a strong link between institutional programs and the values of the individuals?
    Link opens PDF poster.
  • socketSanta Clara University Energy Footprint

    By Megan Mahan

    This presentation describes a tool that can help students translate sustainability concerns into an action plan. With this, students will be able to account for their energy use at a personal level and make decisions accordingly. It not only assesses the sustainability of current student activities, but is also effective in building awareness and assisting in decision-making.

    Link opens PDF poster.

  • killawattSlurp Energy Reduction Project 2007/2008

    By Jake Carrigan, Gary Hoem, Asal Seyed, and Nicolas Ukropina

    The purpose of this research project was to determine if presenting students with ways to reduce energy would result in lower energy usage in Swig residence hall. We also attempted to determine which variables, or energy conserving practices, were most effective at reducing energy use within the building. Research Questions:

    • RQ1: How much energy is used each week in Swig hall?
    • RQ2: Will students comply with our direction by participating in each week's variable in order to conserve energy?
    • RQ3: Will presenting students' energy conservation practices result in reduced energy usage each week?
    • RQ4: Will the students' attitudes toward energy conservation have changed over the duration of the 12 week period?
    • RQ5: What energy conservation practices have the most impact on reducing energy use within the building, and are they easy for students to do?
    Link opens PDF poster.
  • beachFaculty Cope Through Hope

    By Michael Schuster

    Purpose: In an attempt to cope with my own struggle to maintain positivity and purpose, I wanted to determine how the Santa Clara faculty deal with feelings of hopeless and negativity concerning the future of the planet. I hoped that through talking with faculty in diverse fields, I could get an adequate sense of what keeps people motivated to act on behalf of the environment.

    Link opens PDF poster.

  • fairtradeFair Trade Knowledge Decreases as Campus Involvement & Campaigning Decreases

    By Courtney Blann and Rochelle Stowe

    Purpose: To find if the decrease in Fair Trade campaigning had an impact on the knowledge of Fair Trade throughout undergraduate students who eat at Benson.

  • penstemonEffects of Sustainability Across the Curriculum on Students' Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors

    By Molly McIlhenny, Corinne Kirmil, and Liza Dadiomov

    The Penstemon Project is just one of the many projects around the nation under the guidance of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education... As the 2007-08 academic year has drawn to a close, we couldn't help but wonder: just how effective has the Penstemon Project been? Does incorporating sustainability across the curriculum really impact the attitudes and behaviors of Santa Clara students?

    Link opens PDF poster.

  • saladbarSCU Vegetarians and Vegans

    By Rachel Witte

    I was curious to study if Bon Appetit was living up to its goals, if they were filing the needs of the vegetarian and vegan student body. Additionally, if the students felt that the cuisine was lacking in some respect, I wanted to be able to present clear data and helpful suggestions to the managers on campus.

    Link opens PDF poster.

  • slurp arrowsDocumentary of SLURP's First Year

    By Sharif Matar

    Learn more about the SLURP: the program, the goals, and the students.


Documentary of SLURP's first year.

Watch this video with Windows Media Player.

Recorded June 1, 2008