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Accounting students win national sustainability competition

Friday, May. 6, 2011

It is easy to assume that big financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies rarely think about sustainability; assumptions, however, are usually wrong. SAP, a leader in enterprise application software, is committed to sustainability and recently came out with one of the most transparent sustainability reports in the business world. Since 2005, Walmart has been committed to transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy. The retail giant has launched projects including installing thin-film solar on the roofs of 20 locations throughout Arizona and California. And in the accounting world, KPMG, one of the big four firms, now has Climate Change and Sustainability accounting services for their many clients.

KPMG sponsors a yearly competition for university business students to come up with a proposal that will make their school more sustainable. This prompt sparked the imagination of four junior accounting and AIS majors: Katelyn Daley, Rebecca Tien, Shannon Wang, and Linda Young. The team began brainstorming last fall ways to improve SCU's sustainability initiatives and settled on projects dealing with student involvement.

"Student involvement was one area (of sustainability at SCU) that we could control and we knew we wanted to make a difference there," Rebecca Tien said.

"When we discussed possible projects, the idea of locally grown food and the carbon footprint that goes along with that came up, so we connected it to the Forge," Tien added.

The juniors' initial proposal involved a friendly mini-competition about eating locally, but evolved into a community event that will bring awareness to the garden, eating local produce, and environmental education. The students beat out an undisclosed number of Santa Clara teams, to make it to the national competition. Their project, aptly named "Bronco Urban Gardens Day of Awareness," was up against universities like University of Texas at Austin and last year's winners, UC Berkeley. For their efforts, the students received $1000 from KPMG to implement their project.

The Bronco Urban Garden Day of Awareness is set for Saturday, May 21 and will offer plenty of fun activities. Patrick Archie's Acroecology class will unveil designs for new garden plots featuring medicinal herbs. There will be plants for sale, opportunities to get dirty, and plenty of workshops including sustainable eating habits.

"We're hoping to bring the entire neighborhood community together to bring awareness to the garden," Tien said.

Emily Orbanek, '11
Sustainability Intern

Tags: Community Engagement, Curriculum, Education and Research, Environmental Justice, Profiles, Student Life



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