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Big Efforts to Leave a Smaller (Carbon) Footprint

Monday, Mar. 21, 2011

From clothing made from newspapers, to a campus-wide teach-in, to voluntary check-ups of offices and residences for optimum sustainability, Santa Clara University is ramping up its efforts to permeate the campus with a conscience of sustainability, energy efficiency, and environmental justice. The various programs detailed below also are helping put the University on track to meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral (no net greenhouse gas emissions) by 2015. 

* The Grass Roots Environmental Efforts Now (GREEN) Club on campus sponsored its first annual Eco-Fashion Show in early February, with models decked out in clothing made from recycled materials like newspapers or plastic bags. The event sought to raise awareness of sustainability concerns in the fashion industry, such as the public inclination to throw out clothing like yesterday’s newspaper. 

“The ultimate goal is to develop a culture of sustainability among our students, faculty, and staff,” said Lindsey Cromwell Kalkbrenner, director of the Office of Sustainability.

* In January the University earned a silver rating from the national program STARS (Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System), a voluntary self-assessment tool that measures colleges or universities' progress toward sustainability in three main areas: 1) education and research; 2) operations; and 3) planning, administration, and engagement. The Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education sponsors STARS.

* The University implemented a smart microgrid to maximize energy savings; installed solar panels and a wind turbine to increase use of renewable energy sources, and erected new buildings using the latest ideas in sustainable design and green building concepts. 

* Office departments across campus can volunteer to do self-audits to be rated Going Green, Beyond Green, or Certified Sustainable by a new program called SOAP (Sustainable Office Award Program). This way, workers learn how to improve their efficient use of resources through steps like reusing printer paper for internal print jobs or turning off electronics at night and on the weekends.

* Campus event organizers can work with the Office of Sustainability to eliminate bottled water, serve a zero-waste meal, eliminate unnecessary handouts, or undertake other efforts to decrease the waste that crowded events usually create. “With a little effort, it’s not difficult to achieve the highest rating of ‘Certified Sustainable,’” said Cromwell Kalkbrenner.

* Students living off-campus can have their living quarters certified for sustainability, through the new Living Green in the Neighborhood program, co-sponsored by the Associated Student Government and the Office of Sustainability.

* Other students can work on sustainability research and outreach by joining SIP and SLURP — the Sustainable Intra-campus Project and the Sustainable Living Undergraduate Research Project — for residential-based peer-education programs.

* The rest of campus can get in on the green action through a two-day Sustainability Teach-in April 19 and 20. The days will include a series of tours, classroom workshops, and panel discussions on sustainability and environmental justice. The event will be keynoted by a 7 p.m. public lecture April 20 in Mayer Theatre by David Orr, a noted environmental studies and politics professor at Oberlin College.

  March 21, 2011

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