Skip to main content

August 2019

Students on campus planting trees. Smiling facing camera.

Students on campus planting trees. Smiling facing camera.

Santa Clara University Honored for Sustainability Achievements

Santa Clara University was ranked third among 93 master’s-level institutions for its sustainability initiatives.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 26, 2019—In the latest acknowledgement of its leadership in sustainability, Santa Clara University was ranked third among 93 master’s-level institutions in the U.S. for its success with campus-wide sustainability initiatives.

The acknowledgement comes from the Sustainable Campus Index, a publication of The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the premier association for promoting sustainable practices at college and university campuses.

That top showing reflects Santa Clara’s strong commitment to educating students and reducing the school's usage and waste in areas like water, transportation, energy use, and food and dining services.

It also comes on the heels of other tributes to SCU leadership in sustainability, including a No. 13 ranking out of 269 schools in Sierra Club Magazine’s "Top 50 Cool Schools”; the Arbor Day Foundation’s 2018 Tree Campus USA Certification, awarded to SCU’s urban forestry management program; and a No. 13 ranking out of 399 top U.S. Green Schools by Princeton Review.

“As a Jesuit and Catholic university, Santa Clara is committed to Pope Francis' call to care for our common home for the benefit of all who inhabit it,” said University President Kevin O’Brien, S.J. “We are grateful for this significant acknowledgement of our efforts to develop our campus as a ‘living laboratory’ for global climate solutions, educate our community about urgent climate issues, and progress toward climate neutrality in the near future.”

For more than 15 years, SCU has pursued its sustainability goals by committing resources and encouraging employee efforts to reduce the University’s environmental impact. Recent efforts include a new people-oriented sustainability strategic plan complete with “playbooks” identifying specific actions and badges for campus members who work to further reduce climate impact; a “road map” that transparently displays every major sustainability initiative; and online data dashboards that show SCU’s progress in achieving each.

“We are thrilled by this recognition,” said Lindsey Kalkbrenner, director of the University’s Center for Sustainability. “But we still have a lot of work to do to reach our sustainability goals and reverse global warming. It’s going to take every single SCU Bronco—whether they are in sciences, humanities, entrepreneurship, art, spirituality, or community engagement —to engage as they feel the call to act.”

Among the sustainability initiatives completed or underway on campus:

  • Solar panels across campus provide 1.07 megawatt hours of power to campus facilities.
  • Seventy-two percent of campus waste is diverted from landfills, to be reused, recycled or composted.
  • Water usage per person has declined 13 percent over the past decade, despite a 16 percent increase in the number of students, faculty and staff on campus.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from energy use have fallen by 52 percent over the past 10 years.
  • Sustainability curriculum has been incorporated into 1,179 courses at SCU
  • SCU offers a range of community-based programs and opportunities that emphasize sustainable food system education, such as The Forge Garden and Bronco Urban Gardens.

About the SCI 
The Sustainable Campus Index, an annual publication by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), recognizes top-performing colleges and universities overall and in 17 sustainability impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) ( The report also highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives from institutions that submitted STARS reports in the most recent calendar year. An institution’s STARS score is based on the percentage of applicable points earned in credits across four main categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration.

About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked the No. 1 regional university in the West by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information, see

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | | 408-554-5121

Press Release
Recent Headlines

As part of the Tree Campus USA certification, SCU promotes an urban forestry monitoring initiative, where the campus community helps gather health data on the 2,812 trees around campus.