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The University adopted a Sustainability Policy in 2004 which institutionalized a commitment to improve our campus environmental stewardship, education, and outreach. Two years later, a Sustainability Coordinator was hired to foster campus collaboration and support University programs.

In 2007, Santa Clara University’s (SCU) President (the late Father Paul Locatelli, S.J.) signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which required the University to establish a focused plan to achieve climate neutrality and broader plans to integrate sustainability into our education (teaching and research), outreach to others, and stewardship of natural resources. A Climate Neutrality Action Plan emerged from over two years of broad consultation with the University community—including administrators, faculty, staff, and students—coordinated by the University’s Office of Sustainability and its Sustainability Council. The campus committed to produce zero net greenhouse gas emissions, or to be known as "climate-neutral," by the end of 2015. 

10 years of mission sustainable

The Office of Sustainability, composed of a full-time Sustainability Coordinator and undergraduate student interns, was formally established soon after the signing of the Climate Commitment, and was located within the Environmental Studies Institute (ESI) building.

Lindsey Cromwell-Kalkbrenner, Sustainability Coordinator, was promoted to Director of the Office of Sustainability in 2010, and in the fall of 2012, a new Sustainability Coordinator, Cara K. Uy, and Forge Garden Manager, A. Rose Madden, were added to the team—a total of 3 staff and 7 undergraduate interns. Shortly after, the management of the Bronco Urban Gardens program (BUG) shifted from ESI to the Office, working space moved to Varsi Hall in the Mission Gardens, and the team added two new interns, who would support the two new Faculty Associates. Subsequent to all these changes in 2013, the Office of Sustainability became the Center for Sustainability. Currently, the Center now has a new garden manager, a garden educator, 11 undergraduate interns, 2 project assistants, 4 Forge Garden apprentices, 1 BUG Operations intern, 6 Staff Associates, and 2 Faculty Associates.
The Climate Action Plan has been updated into two parts, with Part 1 outlining strategies to make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and educational experience for all students as well as to expand research efforts and community engagement. Part 2 outlines SCU's carbon neutrality operational strategy. Though the University was unable to reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions (scopes 1 and 2) by the end of 2015, the campus reduced them by 54.3% compared to the year we joined the commitment (2014 vs 2007). The new goal is climate neutrality by 2020, this time including scope 3.
Our campus continues to emphasize the importance of striving towards climate neutrality and sustainability through stewardship, academia, and outreach. The Center for Sustainability is committed to furthering this campus culture by engaging students, faculty, and staff with society, the environment, and one another.

In 2009, Santa Clara University’s Environmental Studies Institute ESI collaborated with AmeriCorps (Silicon Valley HealthCorps) and seven other regional organizations to launch the Bronco Urban Gardens (BUG) program.  BUG became a collaborative effort to increase community food security, health awareness and environmental literacy through the co-creation and technical support of urban gardens.  Over the years BUG has played a role in a range of garden projects, including Comida and Conversacion, Alma Verde After-school Program, El Jardîn de Gardner and Washington School Garden as well as developing the one-half acre Forge Garden.  While urban garden projects have varied, BUG remains invested in creating community around urban garden education.