Skip to main content

October 2020

Student in mask sorting vegetables

Student in mask sorting vegetables

Santa Clara University Among the Top 20 Sierra Magazine "Cool Schools" for Sustainability

Santa Clara's commitment to sustainability landed it in the Top 20 in Sierra magazine's Cool Schools list.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 1, 2020 -- For the third consecutive year, Santa Clara University has made the top 20 in Sierra magazine's "Cool Schools" list for 2020. The official magazine of the Sierra Club ranks universities that lead sustainability initiatives and make an effort to protect and preserve the environment.

SCU finished at number 19 on the list this year, with a score of 79.45 out of 100. The publication highlighted Santa Clara’s 15-year, escalating commitment to sustainability, as well as some recent initiatives including:

  • Santa Clara’s customized playbooks for sustainability actions across campus
  • Sustainability efforts during COVID-19 including “citizen science pursuits” such as tree tracking and energy insights programs, encouraging students to engage in their local urban forest and community's renewable energy goals
  • SCU’s donation of nearly 2,500 pounds of produce from Forge Garden and Bronco Urban Gardens, sent with recipe cards and educational tools, to families in need.

Other reasons Santa Clara landed in the top 10 percent of all eligible schools include its ambitious and rigorously measured Sustainability Strategic Plan, including a Data Hub where people can track our progress, what our community is doing, and who is earning sustainability badges. Santa Clara has also made steady progress in eliminating landfill waste.

The fact that more students are grappling with complex global issues in their courses or declaring the sustainability minor or pathway is energizing, said Lindsey Kalkbrenner, director of the Center for Sustainability at Santa Clara.

"Santa Clara University has worked extremely hard to continue advancing our sustainability practices, especially in the areas of energy and waste reduction, while infusing sustainability across the curriculum to empower our students as change agents," she said. “This generation is faced with the opportunity to turn our trajectory around and build an equitable, healthy, and joyful future. Ranking in Sierra's Cool Schools list a testament to our hard work and commitment in this important area.”

Santa Clara’s unique approach to sustainability is rooted in its mission as a Jesuit university. The University places a priority on integrating social justice and sustainability to illustrate the connections among a healthy environment, just societies, and a vibrant economy that meet all people's fundamental needs, especially those of the global poor. More than 1,300 classes incorporate sustainability, and nearly 20% of faculty conduct sustainability-related research.

The Sierra magazine Cool Schools list is the result of a self-reported survey that is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. A total of 312 schools completed the extensive questionnaire through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment Rating System (STARS) of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

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 among the top 15 percent of national universities 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, Sustainability
Recent Headlines