Santa Clara University


FAQs about sustainability

What is sustainability? 

A sustainable decision balances impacts on the environment, with social well-being, and economic systems. Sustainability is about taking the long-term approach and considering systemic effects when making decisions. Sustainability involves three components for improving the quality of life for all: environmental protection, economic development, and social development. The formal definition is "meeting the needs of present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." 

Why is sustainability important to SCU? 

As a Jesuit University, SCU's mission is for students, faculty, and staff to be engaged with society and committed to fashioning a more humane, just, and sustainable world. SCU is committed to promote a more sustainable way of living through stewardship, education, outreach. 

How will SCU be "climate neutral" by the end of 2015? 

We have reduced GHG emissions per person by 23% since 2005! SCU will produce zero net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by reducing energy use where possible (energy conservation programs such as the annual Residence Energy Challenge, and upgrading lighting and heating/cooling systems), generating renewable energy on campus (solar panels, wind turbine, solar hot water systems), and purchasing renewable energy when necessary. We will strive to be climate neutral in scope 1 (natural gas, campus fleet gasoline and diesel usage) and scope 2 (purchased electricity) by the end of 2015, and be climate neutral in scopes 1, 2, and 3 (business travel, student and employee commute) by the end of 2020.

What is waste diversion? 

Waste diversion is simply diverting, or redirecting, landfill waste elsewhere, whether it is being reused, composted, or recycled. SCU's current waste diversion rate is 58%, which means 58% of our waste is either being composted or recycled instead of being sent to a landfill. This is great news for us!

California is in a drought. What is SCU doing to use less water?

SCU has been using recycled water since 2003 and we are expanding recycled water usage in wherever possible. Many of our buildings are already equipped with water-saving technology including low-flow/dual-flush toilets, sink faucet aerators, waterfree urinals, and low-flow showerheads (read more). We are increasing efforts to monitor these fixtures so we can respond to leaks as quickly as possible. We are also reading our water meters daily to help us detect and respond to leaks in real-time. We are also partnering with the Santa Clara Valley Water District to conduct water audits of the campus infrastructure and landscaping to determine where we can further reduce our water consumption.

Governor Brown declared a drought state of emergency in January 2014, and more recently, a state mandate for water restrictions in cities and towns.  How did SCU respond?

The University continues to firmly stand by its 2014 goal of reducing potable and landscaping water use both by 20 percent, as well as searching for ways to increase recycled water use. The University asks the campus community to conserve water during daily routines on campus (Visit our What You Can Do page for specific actions). Additionally, SCU can also expect new immediate measures for further water reduction this spring.