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Two New Sustainability Certifications

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010

This was a busy summer for the Office of Sustainability. Two new sustainability certification were developed: the Sustainable Office Award Project (SOAP) for campus departments and programs, and the Sustainable Event Certification. For both certifications, three levels may be earned:

  • Going Green (first steps have been made to adopt sustainable behaviors);
  • Beyond Green (much progress has been made to advance sustainable behaviors, beyond where most departments and events have reached);
  • Certified Sustainable (truly embodies sustainable behavior and is changing the way we perceive "business as usual").

The goal for both certifications is to enable the University community to contribute to the development of a culture of sustainability on campus. Individuals and departments are awarded for their efforts, and never judged or punished for not doing something. Both certifications are easy to apply for, and Interns with the Office of Sustainability are eager to help facilitate the process.

The Sustainable Office Award Project encourages campus departments to identify sustainable practices already in place, and enables University employees to work together and develop a plan for their department to expand these practices. Components of the assessment and plan include energy awareness and conservation, sustainable transportation, waste reduction, sustainable food and events, as well as activities to promote outreach and education. Points are awarded based on level of impact and difficulty to accomplish.

The Office of Student Life was the first department to go through the SOAP process, easily earning a rating of "Going Green." The Office of Sustainability presented at a department meeting and reviewed their current sustainability initiatives. The second half of the meeting was devoted to developing a plan to implement new practices, including exploring ways to use energy more efficiently and enabling department members to print internal memos on paper that has been previously printed on. After doing an energy audit of the office, employees are now aware of exactly how much energy their appliances use, and are making efforts to use energy more efficiently by unplugging appliances and switching off powerstrips when they aren't needed.

Sustainable Event Certification
Events on campus, regardless of their size, have the potential to educate each participant via activities, presentations, and meals. The event certification process provides event planners with resources to easily reduce the environmental impacts of events as well as educate participants about SCU's sustainability initiatives and how they can adopt more sustainable behaviors. Components of the event certification include selecting location based on access to natural lighting, choosing Zero Waste meals from campus catering, and encouraging guests' use of sustainable transportation.

The AJCU Deans' Conference for the College of Arts and Sciences was Santa Clara's first "Certified Sustainable" event. Event planners at the Dean's Office eliminated water bottles from this event and instead chose to give guests a souvenir reusable water bottle (with the new Mission Sustainable logo!) and provided water filling stations throughout the conference. One of the events associated with the conference was a presentation about how Deans can influence sustainability initiatives on their campuses. Simple changes like printing one concise booklet on recycled paper (rather than multiple handouts) and reusable name tag holders furthered waste reduction efforts of this event.

The Upcoming Grand Reunion has also made great strides to reduce impacts associated with a large event. All banners can be reused, since no specific date is printed, they are timeless. A tour of SCU's sustainability initiatives, along with presentations by the College of Arts & Sciences, the Leavey School of Business, and the School of Engineering, will enable alumni to get a glimpse of their alma mater's progress. Members of SCU's Sustainability Squad will also be onsite to help ensure composting and recycling at the Alumni Picnic.

Tags: Campus Operations, Energy, Get Involved, Program Highlights, Waste, Water



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