Santa Clara University

sustainability at scu

Sustainability Update
August 2006

A monthly update from the Sustainability Coordinator for members of the Santa Clara University community.


Green Highlight

SCU's Learning Commons and Library

Library DemolitionThis summer has been a time of great change on the Alameda Mall. Demolition and excavation of Orradre Library occurred through July and August, and the foundation of the new Learning Commons and Library will be laid this fall. But what does demolition and construction have to do with sustainability? A whole lot! Roughly 22 percent of California’s waste stream in 2004 was composed of construction and demolition materials that could have been reused or recycled.

The Learning Commons and Library is highlighted in this month’s Sustainability Update because over 150 tons of steel and 400 tons of concrete have already been recycled. Over 40 tons of green waste have been composted as well.

Besides reducing the amount of waste produced during demolition, construction crews will control for dust and air quality as well as storm water run-off throughout the construction process. They will also continue to recycle as much construction waste as possible. Once completed, SCU’s new library will have many sustainable design features. A few of these include:

Re-use/reduction of materials

- Re-use of roof tiles from Orradre Library
- High recycled content furniture, steel, and concrete
- Natural stone building materials and flooring

Energy conservation

- Energy efficient heating/cooling and lighting systems
- Maximized natural lighting and outside views
- Increased insulation and high performance glass windows
- Raised floor system for efficient thermal control and improved air quality

Reduced water use - Low-flow water faucets
- Waterfree urinals and reclaimed water for toilet flushing
- Reclaimed water for irrigation
Improved air quality - Paints, adhesives, carpeting, furniture, and flooring will contain reduced levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Building flexibility - A flexible and highly adaptable interior design will prolong the lifetime of the building


For more information about the Learning Commons and Library, visit

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New Sustainability at SCU e-mail list

If you would like to be “in the loop” regarding Sustainability at SCU, join the "Sustainability" listserv. Members can share information about sustainability at SCU, discuss local and national events, ideas, and funding opportunities. To join, send an e-mail to the Sustainability Coordinator ( with "subscribe" in the subject line. In the body of the message, please include your first and last name, e-mail address, occupation, and affiliation with SCU.

Solar Decathlon UpdateSCU Solar Decathlon Team

SCU students will be representing Silicon Valley and the entire West Coast in the 2007 Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC. Over 40 undergraduate engineering students have begun working on the massive project, meeting with local companies and developing the SCU solar house into an example of sustainable design and engineering. To keep up with the progress of the School of Engineering’s largest student project, visit 

New resource: How to be a Sustainable Consumer

A new resource for students is now available! Sustainability for Students provides some "good" things to look for as well as some "bad" things to avoid when shopping to get ready for school. The website provides suggestions about commonly purchased items such as batteries, carpeting, electronics, furniture, food, light bulbs, and school supplies. Included also are resources for more information about specific topics. As individuals, we can make a difference by making small changes in the way we purchase items. Many people at SCU are helping to conserve resources and reduce our footprint on the world around us. Coming soon: consumer resources for staff and faculty. Please click here to visit Sustainability for Students.

Tours of the Commons at Kennedy Mall – Offered every other FridayCommons at Kennedy Mall

Have you wondered what all the hype is about? Do you have a hard time believing that there are really blue jeans in the walls of a building? Spend some time learning about SCU’s sustainable design demonstration building. Fun and informative tours of the Commons at Kennedy Mall are offered every other Friday in September at noon. Please RSVP to the Sustainability Coordinator ( at least one day prior to the tour you wish to attend. Visit the Sustainability Calendar for more information.

Sustainable Vision Grants

The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance is accepting applications for Sustainable Vision grants ranging in size from $10,000 to $50,000. The grants will support programs that apply technology entrepreneurship to address poverty and environmental degradation, and/or meet basic human needs such as clean air and water, nutrition, health care, and shelter. The submission deadline is October 27, 2006.

For more information, visit  

Student Applicants Sought for $1.25 Million in Sustainability Grants

EPA is tapping into the innovation and creativity of students to find solutions to environmental challenges through the agency’s People, Prosperity and the Planet competition. The agency plans to award up to $1.25 million in grants that enable teams of college students to research, develop and design scientific and technical solutions to sustainability challenges that protect the environment while achieving continued economic prosperity.

EPA will award as many as 50 grants up to $10,000 each to student teams. The money will be used to research and develop sustainable solutions during the 2007-08 academic year. In spring 2008, the teams will be invited to bring their designs to Washington, D.C. to compete for EPA’s P3 Award, which includes an additional award worth up to $75,000 to further develop and implement the project in the field. The competition will be judged by the National Academy of Engineering for design innovation and technical merit along with relevant social, economic and environmental considerations that are the keys to sustainable designs.

The P3 competition is open to teams of students attending colleges, universities and other post-secondary educational institutions. Interdisciplinary teams are strongly encouraged, including representatives from multiple engineering departments and/or departments of chemistry, architecture, industrial design, economics, policy, social sciences, business, communication, etc.

Proposals must reach EPA by December 21, 2006. Details about the P3 competition, including application procedures and materials, can be found at The grants will be awarded for research related to the P3 (People, Prosperity, and the Planet) sustainability competition, a national student design competition launched in 2004.

Several previous winners have already taken their innovations to new levels – including starting successful businesses, winning additional awards, and improving the quality of life in the United States, other developed countries plus those that are developing.

EPA relies on quality science as the basis for sound policy and decision-making. EPA’s laboratories and research centers, and EPA's research grantees, are building the scientific foundation needed to support the agency’s mission to safeguard human health and the environment.

For more information, visit the Competition's website:

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Green Practices in the Workplace Workshop - October 10, 2006

The HR Workshop "Green Practices in the Workplace" will show you how sustainability can easily be incorporated into what you do every day. This fun, interactive workshop encourages participants to reflect on and discuss their personal values to identify how sustainability is integral to their value systems.

For more information, and to RSVP, visit

Save the Date: SCU Campus Sustainability Day - October 25, 2006Campus Sustainability Day

Campus Sustainability Day at SCU will showcase a series of sustainability-related events on Wednesday, October 25th. Speakers, presentations, activities, and information will be centered on Sustainability at SCU – what have we done, what are we doing, and where should we go from here? Look for more information in September’s Sustainability Update.

2006 Engineers for a Sustainable World Annual Conference

Sept. 27-30; University of Iowa, Iowa City. Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) has announced its 2006 Annual Conference entitled, "Envisioning Sustainability: A new generation of thinking for the next generation of living." Hosted by The University of Iowa ESW Collegiate Chapter, this year's event will include plenary sessions with Brendan Owens, Director of LEED Design and Construction from the US Green Building Council, and Lester Brown, founder and director of the Earth Policy Institute. Session tracks are Business Solutions for a Sustainable World, Critical Issues in International Development, Technology Benefiting Humanity, Education & Curriculum Change, Outreach & Practical Action, and Living and Working Sustainably. Early registration at discounted rates closes August 1st for professionals and September 1st for students.

For more information, visit

West Coast Green

West Coast Green, the nation’s largest residential green building conference and expo is coming to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, September 28-30 in San Francisco. The expo will showcase over 250 exhibitors and 120 speakers, including keynotes by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Sarah Susanka (author of “The Not So Big House”), and Industry leaders Ed Mazria, Peter Yost, and Tom Paladino. More than 12,000 attendees will convene from all over the country to gain the tips and tools for building sustainably and successfully. In honor of this momentous event, The City of San Francisco has proclaimed the week of September 25th, “Green Week.”

For more information, visit

AASHE “The Role of Higher Education in Creating a Sustainable World.”

The conference is open to participants from every sector of higher education as well as interested businesses and NGO’s. Anticipated attendees include administrators, faculty, students, sustainability practitioners, facilities officers, operations staff, consultants, vendors, higher education leaders, government representatives, and many others. The program format will promote the active exchange of ideas and knowledge through highly interactive forums, informal networking, and open, facilitated discussion.

For more information visit

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What Can I Do?

Reduce: Unplug!Flex Your Power

Reduce your use of electricity by unplugging electronics when not in use. Appliances like toasters, hairdryers, cell phone chargers, and stereos use energy even when they are turned off. Around 18 million tons of carbon is emitted into the atmosphere every year just to keep display clocks lit! Unplugging electronics you don't use very often can not only reduce carbon emissions, but will also reduce your electricity bill! Visit Flex Your Power for more energy saving tips.

Reuse: Buy some things second-hand

Check out services like craigslist or FreeSharing to find furniture, appliances, and other items, rather than buying them new. This not only extends the lifetime of the product, but also saves you money!

Recycle: What happens to recycled glass?

After being collected and sorted, glass is sent to a glass recycler. There, the glass is mixed with sand, melted soda ash, and limestone and then heated to about 27,000 degrees Farenheit until the mixture melts into a soft liquid. The molten glass is then formed into bottles and jars, ready to be reused! For more information, please visit Rethink Waste.

Recycle Trivia!

Which is larger: the total weight of glass recycled at SCU in 2005, or the year’s total weights of recycled plastic and aluminum combined?

Find the answer in the Campus Projects section of Sustainability at SCU

Seafood Watch GuideRespect: Be a sustainable seafood eater!

The seafood industry has caused a lot of damage to marine animals and the ocean environment. Fish and other animals often get caught accidentally and discarded, habitats are destroyed or polluted, and certain fish populations are over fished leading to declines in population numbers or extinction. You can make a difference! Next time you eat seafood, choose the most sustainable seafood options - there are a lot of them! Visit Seafood Watch to learn more. Free, easy-to-use Pocket Guides are available online, as well as at the Environmental Studies Institute here at SCU. Stop by and pick one up!

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Subscribe Future Sustainability Updates will continue to be distributed to SCU students, faculty, and staff through non-Essential SCU Global E-Mail Distribution Lists. If you are not a student, faculty, or staff member at SCU and wish to receive future Sustainability Updates, please join our Sustainability at SCU e-mail list. To do so, please send an e-mail to the Sustainability Coordinator ( with “subscribe” in the subject line. In the body of the message, please include your first and last name, e-mail address, occupation, and affiliation with SCU.

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