March 2014

Santa Clara University Wins Top Silicon Valley Sustainability Award

Santa Clara, Calif., March 20, 2014—Santa Clara University will be honored with one of the top awards for sustainability in Silicon Valley— the Acterra Award for Sustainability. Acterra’s 2014 Business Environmental Awards program not only recognizes the innovative and proven success of the University’s initiatives, but the culture of sustainability ingrained in its Jesuit mission.

“As a Jesuit University, we educate the leaders of tomorrow to create a more just, humane, and sustainable world,” says SCU President Michael Engh, S.J. “This award recognizes our innovative and ongoing efforts, and sets a high standard for other large organizations making a name for themselves in sustainability. I salute our Director of the Center for Sustainability Lindsey Kalkbrenner and her on-campus partners for their leadership.”

Acterra’s Business Environmental Awards is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s oldest and most prestigious environmental recognition programs. Initiated in 1990, it is considered a heavyweight among award programs due to its rigorous application and judging process.

Santa Clara was selected out of a distinguished group of finalists including Google and SunPower Corporation. The award highlights Santa Clara’s commitment and dedication to sustainability with demonstrated environmental progress, social benefits, and influence on the business community. Programs including Experiential Learning for Social Justice, the Contemplative Leadership and Sustainability Program, a half-acre organic campus garden, and the Frugal Innovation Lab all encourage the SCU community to engage in social justice and sustainability locally and globally. One business community highlight, the Global Social Benefit Institute, has helped social entrepreneurs in over 55 countries since 2003, impacting more than 100 million people worldwide.

“Santa Clara University's sustainability commitment emanates from President Engh and the Provost's office and generates participation and innovation at all levels. It’s not often that we encounter staff that is so passionate, knowledgeable, and in sync with the mission of the organization,” says Tim Smith, chair of the Acterra Award for Sustainability. “We applaud the University for embedding the culture of sustainability amongst all of its stakeholders, including faculty, staff, and the entire student body.”

One of the elements SCU is most proud of is its Sustainability Liaisons program. The Center for Sustainability supports over 50 members of the University dedicated to educating peers about sustainable practices and plans to expand the program in the Fall.

“We empower our Liaisons (employees and students) to be peer educators and promote sustainability in their social networks. They are enacting a real shift in thinking and culture that is changing attitudes and behavior,” says Kalkbrenner. “We’ll know when we have accomplished our goal when sustainability becomes the norm—woven into everything we do. It’s an honor to have these efforts recognized along the way!”

Santa Clara University will be recognized at the Acterra Business Environmental Awards Reception on Wed., May 28.

Media Contact: Marika E. Krause  (408) 829-4836


SCU Sustainability Highlights since 2005

  • 40 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions per person. The success is in part due to a comprehensive energy conservation and efficiency initiative, rideshare programs, incentives for biking, carpooling, and using public transportation, as well as 11 electric vehicle charging stations.
  • 29 percent decrease in potable water consumed per person, due to efficient fixtures and use of recycled water throughout campus landscaping.
  • 59 percent waste diversion rate (more than triple 2005 levels), and a 17 percent decrease in total waste leaving campus (includes recyclables and compostables).
  • Roughly 20 percent of courses taught at SCU include a sustainability component (social justice, economic development, and/or environmental health).
  • Roughly 80 percent of academic departments have at least one faculty member engaged in sustainability research.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

About Acterra: Action for a Healthy Planet
Acterra is a nonprofit organization with a 44-year history of environmental programming in and around Silicon Valley. Acterra involves and educate individuals, businesses, and communities to take action against global warming, restore natural habitats, and cultivate environmental leaders for the future. For more information visit