Santa Clara University was honored with one of the top Silicon Valley sustainability awards, the Acterra Award for Sustainability for large organizations. Recognized for its integration of sustainability in its culture through operations, academics and student life programs, and outreach in the community, SCU was highlighted for its dedication to all aspects of sustainability through environmental benefits and social benefits, as well as model for business community and commitment to sustainability.
The Acterra Business Environmental Awards is one of the most prestigious environmental awards in the San Francisco Bay Area. Acterra is an environmental non-profit organization in the Bay Area dedicated to improving the environment through restoration of natural habitats, taking action against global warming, and cultivating environmental leaders for the future. Acterra offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities to educate the greater community about the environment, including programs that serve as models others can emulate elsewhere. The Environmental Business Award is presented to businesses dedicated to furthering sustainability and displaying their commitment through various programs and projects. The Business Award is split into three different categories for companies of different sizes: Large, Medium, Small.
Santa Clara University was selected out of a renowned set of finalists, including Google and SunPower Corporation, for the Large Organization category. One characteristic that set SCU apart was the large number of programs on campus dedicated to sustainability. Several of these projects include Experiential Learning for Social Justice (ELSJ), the Contemplative Leadership And Sustainability Program (CLASP), the School of Engineering’s Frugal Innovation Lab (FIL), and the Forge Garden, all of which encourage the greater community to participate in sustainability and its components of social justice, economics, and the environment.
SCU was also distinguished for its influence in the business community and its transferability to other organizations. One program in particular, is SCU’s Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) which is a hub for global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in its service to humanity. GSBI’s mission statement is to “accelerate global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. We aim to positively impact the lives of 1 billion by 2020.” A total of 202 enterprises have completed GBSI programs, with 90% of GBSI alumni still in business. Santa Clara has partnerships with Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Catholic Green Initiative of Santa Clara County, and Sustainable Silicon Valley, all of which make SCU a pioneer in sustainable businesses.
SCU’s ongoing commitment to sustainability throughout the entire school was focused on in receiving the award. Sustainability has been integrated into the University’s Strategic Plan in 2011: “We understand sustainability as involving three components: environmental protection, economic development, and social development. Questions of sustainability and justice are not the province of single discipline, or point of view, but we can be illuminated by all fields and perspectives.” SCU also offers over 500 courses related to sustainability, and Sustainability Liaisons help develop a culture of sustainability throughout campus and the greater community. This Acterra Environmental Business Award will bring to light the numerous programs at Santa Clara University dedicated to sustainability.
View the Acterra Award Reception photos and short video of Sustainability at SCU.
For more information on Acterra, visit www.acterra.org
Contributed by Julia Peters '15, Sustainability Intern, Athletics & Recreation