Santa Clara University

Center for Sustainability Banner

Sustainability Update

Back to Blog

News

Friday, Nov. 5, 2010

A New Academic Year, A New Agenda
SCU students have started off the new school year with renewed energy, passion, and hard work, but perhaps none more so than Chris Mosier ('11) and Nhunguyen Le ('12), Associated Student Government President and Vice President, respectively. Among the items on their ambitious platform to enhance the lives of the SCU community, sustainability takes a leading role. Through a partnership with the Office of Sustainability, ASG has drafted and adopted an Environmental Standard, a list of guidelines for the sustainable operation and outlook of their organization. The significance of their sustainability focus, Mosier and Le indicate, is its broad and lasting outreach. Aspects within the Environmental Standard, as well as ASG's other sustainability partnerships, contribute to the continuing response to SCU's Climate Neutrality Action Plan.

Construction begins on eco-friendly aparments
Last spring, Father Engh passionately stated his desire for Santa Clara to become a central hub for environmental ethics, justice and sustainable practices. The SCU community will soon see another tangible example of his goals, when contruction is completed on new eco-friendly student apartments. The new complex, adjacent to Stephen Schott Stadium, will house 400 juniors and seniors beginning next fall. Built in accordance with Build It Green standards, the new housing uses the lastest in green technology including:

  • gas-condensing tankless water heaters
  • high efficiency dual-flush toilets
  • trash and recycling receptacles made from recycled content
  • zero volatile organic compound (VOC) interior paints and low VOC interior finishes and adhesives

Along with the newest sustainable technology, the residence hall will also feature outdoor barbeques and kitchens, volleyball and bocce ball courts.  Apartments range in size from one bedroom, one bathroom to four bedrooms, two bathrooms. Applications for the new community with be accepted beginning February 1 at 5:30 p.m.

Frugal Innovation Comes to SCU
Frugality and technical engineering do not usually fit together in the same sentence. The new emerging field of frugal innvoation, however, hopes to merge the two in order to address the needs of developing and underdeveloped countries by "ruggedization, simplification, sparing use of low-cost raw materials, an emphasis on earth-friendly practices, and a philosophy that favors 'good enough' over 'perfection' in creating compassionate, use-centric design."

A new frugal innovation initiative created by the School of Engineering and SCU's Center for Science, Technology and Society (CSTS) will "provide a mechanism for faculty and students to apply their intellectual rigor while working on meaningful projects that not only serve the world, but also contribute to the success of our economy here at home," School of Engineering Dean Godfrey Mungal said.

With emerging markets in underdevelolped countries, like China, India and Africa, expected to account for 70% of global economic growth, there is a huge market to provide basic services to the masses. Which is why the initiative also includes a partnership with the Leavey School of Business to address the needs of these emerging markets in what is being called lean entrepreneurship.

This initiative adds to the ever-growing list of responses to Father Engh's call to action in his inagural address when he said, "SCU is uniquely positioned to make a significant contribution to achieving a more just and sustainable future."

Sustainable Projects in Engineering
In this twenty-first century, eco-conscious world, it seems that most new engineering feats factor in sustainability and the environment somewhere in the planning and development stages. It should come as no surprise then, that the School of Engineering is busy promoting sustainability in multiple classes impacting both global and local communities. Global Water Brigades took their knowledge and engineering skills abroad to Honduras, last spring break, to dig trenches and lay pipe for water distribution. Senior engineering students in the group brought with them water filters created for their senior engineering design project. "We have been working on designing a filter the community would use. It had to be sustainable, and something they could stitch themselves that would be understandable to them from a cultural point of view,” then senior Ryan Clark explained. Students left 20 filters in the village and are working on supplying the rest of the community.

Using Haiti's disatrous earthquake as a jumping off point, Professor Reynaud Serrett’s Strucutral Systems engineering class was charged to design a two-room house that would utilize local materials, thus stimulating the local economy, while considering the culture. Students studied Haiti's different sustainable materials, the soil and weather conditions of the area, and even contacted the World Bank and United Nations for advice. Even though the final design was conceptual, students learned how to integrate the science of engineering with social and cultural concerns.

On a more local level, Associate Professor Christopher Kitt's Smart Product Design class, worked on designing, creating and then marketing smart vending machines. Both reusable water bottles and the reusable and sustainable take-out container Eco Tray were dispensed in what one team called “The Eco Dispenser.” Another team realized a “one-stop shopping” vending machine complete with snacks, beverages, and a hot entrée. Both teams’ designing products ended up promoting sustainability and saving money for the University.

Update on STARS
Over the past year, the Office of Sustainability has been collecting data about Santa Clara's sustainability initiatives for the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). STARS is a comprehensive tracking system that gauges the progress towards sustainability across the spectrum of university operations. Office staff are busy crunching numbers, compiling statistics and administering surveys to judge institutional sustainability in three main areas: education & research, campus operations, and planning, administration, & engagement, in order to meet the January deadline. The number of green buildings, water and electricity metering, outdoor education, and employee wellness are just a few of the criteria of which the University is assessed. STARS, which was created by the Assocaition for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), is designed to:

  • Provide a framework for understanding sustainability in all sectors of higher education.
  • Enable meaningful comparisons over time and across institutions using a common set of measurements developed with broad participation from the campus sustainability community.
  • Create incentives for continual improvement toward sustainability.
  • Facilitate information sharing about higher education sustainability practices and performance.
  • Build a stronger, more diverse campus sustainability community.

The Office of Sustainability is excited about the final report and expects the University will receive at least a STARS bronze certification.

The Grand Reunion
Broncos of all ages reconnected at SCU for the Grand Reunion weekend at the beginning of October. Graduates from the past sixty years, including more recent alums from this past June, participated in all types of activities including a golf tournament, the Homecoming Picnic, a fun run, and multiple parties. Broncos also had the chance to go learn about the many sustainability initiatives Santa Clara has taken on and adopted since their graduation year. After a brief presentation on the current state of sustainability at SCU, graduates headed either to The Forge Garden or the 2007 Solar Decathlon house.

The Solar Decathlon house was a big draw for former engineering students. Mechanical engineering professor, Tim Hight, electrical engineering professor Tim Healy, along with the 2009 Solar Decathlon team welcomed former Broncos with freshly baked cookies from the 2007 house's energy-efficient oven. The professors and students pointed out the sustainable features of the house to the visitors, and also compared it to the 2009 house, which was in the process of being assembled nearby.

Alumni who ventured to The Forge Garden, with Environmental Studies Executive Director Leslie Gray, sampled fresh strawberries and mingled with the resident chickens. Senior Evie O'Connor discussed the many ways students are involved in the garden, including drop-in volunteering and AmeriCorp placements.

Campus Sustainability Week
This year’s Sustainability Week, October 18-22, kicked off with a Food and Agribusiness Institute  “Follow Your Food Series” about local and organic apples. On Wednesday, students came out for the Sustainability Fair which hosted numerous clubs including B Lejit, The Sustainable Business Club, GREEN Club, Global Medical Brigades, Into the Wild, The Office of Sustainability, Markula Center, the Ignatian Center, Silicon Valley Power, and Our City Forrest. It was a great sunny day filled with games, food, and more. Additionally, throughout the week students got “Caught Green-Handed.” Fifty lucky students who were spotted doing sustainable behaviors  were awarded a prize.

Empowered Partnerships
Environmental justice leaders from across the country converged at "Empowered Partnerships," a two-day environmental justice conference hosted by Berkeley Law at the University of California. Santa Clara University's Environmental Studies Institute co-sponsored the symposium on participatory action research for environmental justice.

The two-day event included a talk by Anthony “Van” Jones, environmental activist, author of The Green Collar Economy, and former Special Advisor for Green Jobs for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The second day focused on participatory action research, featuring many community leaders and members from a spectrum of organizations, specific talks on different types of partnerships in environmental justice research, and how environmental justice can gain momentum as a movement.

The symposium featured two SCU professors, Christopher Bacon of the Environmental Studies Institute, and Perlita Dicochea of the Ethnic Studies department, both spoke on their research with international communities.

Where do your apples come from?
The Food and Agribusiness Institute, together with SCU's Dining Services, sponsored "Follow Your Food: Apples" on October 19. The event featured a presentation by Vince Gizdich, the third-generation owner of Gizdich Ranch, a Watsonville apple orchard and berry farm. Gizdich gave a brief history of his farm and their operations, which began in the 1930s with his grandparents. The farm supplied dried apples for soldiers during World War II, and became a "pick-your-own" destination for local families during Gizdich's childhood.

Gizdich, who brought several crates of apples with him for event attendees to enjoy, explained his agricultural techniques, which center around integrated pest management (IPM) methods. He also talked about how to stay competitive in a market where his product is not unique, nor does he have a desire to expand the ranch's operations.

At forty acres, Gizdich claims the ranch is at capacity, but he sees value in keeping the size of his business small. Becuase he ships only as far south as Carmel and as far north as San Francisco, the products from his farm are always fresh when they reach consumers. This quality of product, which Gizdich oversees through each stage of its growth and production, is what gives him pride in his business and keeps customers returning.

The Follow Your Food Series is jointly sponsored by the Food and Agribusiness Institute and SCU Dining Services by Bon Appétit. For more information check out the schedule of upcoming Food & Agricusiness Institute events.

Sustainability and the Jesuit tradition
For 15 years, lay faculty from the six west coast Jesuit colleges have gathered on an annual basis for the Western Conversations Conference to discuss what it means to teach at a Jesuit Institution. Santa Clara hosted this year's conference with a theme focusing on sustainability and environmental justice.

After a public key-note address on the afternoon of October 22, by visiting Notre Dame professor Kristin Shrader-Frechette, the conference began with an overview of the Penstemon Project and SCU's Office of Sustainability. Visiting faculty then braved the rain with a visit to the Forge Community Garden and experienced SCU's new building initiatives with a tour of Lucas Hall.

In addition to showcasing SCU's sustainability initiatives, the conference was a place for different faculty to brainstorm and network for their respective campuses. Some universities are radically adopting sustainable practices, while others do not yet have a central Office of Sustainability.

Conference director, Kevin Quinn, S.J. explained that throughout the weekend faculty broke into small groups according to discipline or home university "to discuss how to bring sustainability into the classroom and into the way we live and operate. They talked about the next steps," Quinn said.

While sustainability is a common theme on college campuses around the country, sustainability through a Catholic and Jesuit tradition is not. Quinn noted that sustainability and the environment became a major topic of discussion in Jesuit circles 20 years ago. "It was around the same time as the Catholic Church, in 1990, definitively stated that sustainability and protecting the environment were important," Quinn said.

Solar panels on the White House
The White House is no stranger to solar panels. Jimmy Carter, who championed energy conservation, installed panels in 1979 when solar power was but a buregeoning technology. Carter's solar panels were famously taken down, however, by the Regan Admistration. After a long absence, solar panels, along with a solar hot water heater, will once again be installed at 1600 Pennslyvania Ave on top of the Obama residences. Although the bid process for the project is in the early stages, the panels are slated to be up and running by the spring of 2011. The administration hopes to lead by example and compel more Americans to choose alternative energies.

Students: to lower your energy consumption, sign up for Living Green in the Neighborhood (off-campus residents) and the Residence Energy Challenge (RLC's and off-campus houses) which will begin winter quarter.

Voters say 'No' to Prop 23
Voters turned out to defeat Propostition 23, which if passed, would have suspended California's ground breaking climate change intiative AB 32. Prop 23, which was the state's most expensive proposition this year, was defeated 61% to 39% according to the Wall Street Journal.

AB 32 aims to reduce state greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels, approximately 25%of current levels, by 2020 through new regualtions and market incentives, specifically cap-and-trade taxes.

Tags: Buildings and Grounds, Food, News, Research, Student Life

 

Subscribe

The Center for Sustainability sends Sustainability Updates to SCU students, faculty, and staff through non-Essential SCU Global E-Mail Distribution Lists. Others are welcome to subscribe to these monthly e-mails using this link.

Archives

Read past Sustainability Update articles. Articles are sorted by tags for quick browsing. Visit the archives.

Suggest future content

Have a suggestion for a program or person we should showcase? Want an upcoming event included next month? Please contact the Center for Sustainability with your idea.