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Friday, May. 6, 2011

73% of waste diverted from Preview Days picnic
At Preview Days, prospective students don’t just walk away impressed with Santa Clara's faculty, curriculum, campus atmosphere, and perfect landscaping. They now see that sustainability is an integral part of SCU's campus life. Since 2009, SCU has been striving towards “zero-waste” event lunches; “zero-waste” means that all items consumed at the meal are either composted or recycled. Achieving this goal requires collaboration between our Office of Sustainability, Facilities department, Event Planning, and Bon Appetit catering, along with cooperation and participation by diners.

This year’s Preview Days' lunch consisted mostly of recyclable and compostable items that were relatively easy to sort; chip bags and condiment wrappers were the only landfill items. During and after the meal, Sustainability Squad volunteers helped students and their families sort their waste. At the end, 340 lbs of compostables, 213 lbs of recyclables, and 202 lbs of waste were totaled; this means 73% of the waste was diverted from the landfill! Moreover, almost every single guest thanked volunteers for being there.

Campus-wide recycling system upgrade underway
Since fall 2009, the Office of Sustainability and Facilities have been collaborating on a university-wide recycling system upgrade for all SCU buildings. The program is intended to facilitate recycling and composting, increase waste diversion on campus, and standardize the appearance of our bins (no more faded labels!). We have switched 30 buildings, and plan to finish all buildings by the end of the academic year (residence halls will be upgraded over the summer).

When we “upgrade” a building’s recycling system, two things happen:

  1. All faculty and staff in the building receive a new blue recycling bin in place of their old trash can. They can place all recyclable items (glass, aluminum, paper, and plastics #1-7) in this bin, which now gets emptied by a custodian. A small black wastebasket for landfill items hangs on the side, which faculty and staff empty as needed.
  2. The building’s common areas receive standardized recycling and waste containers, with clear labels and lids with wide openings for recyclables. Employee break areas and kitchens are stocked with a compost bin to collect food waste.

So far, the campus-wide upgrade has been successful and we have received positive feedback from faculty and staff. Many report they are excited to participate in waste diversion, especially since it's now easier to recycle.

As we continue this project, we will use our quarterly waste characterizations to track the waste diversion progress of the campus. Keep your eyes peeled for newer-looking bins around campus and before you know it, recycling and composting will become second nature. If you have any questions please contact

SCU makes Princeton Review's list of top Green Colleges and Universities
For the second year in a row, Santa Clara University has made the Princeton Review's list of the most environmentally responsible colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Partnering with the U.S. Green Building Council, the Princeton Review surveyed administrators at hundreds of schools about their campus's sustainability initiatives. Santa Clara is highlighted for the solar decathlon, the Sustainable Living Undergraduate Research Project (SLURP), and the many departments that offer sustainability-related courses. The guide is free and available to download.

SCU highlighted in STARS annual report
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), recently published the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) Year in Review. As of February 2011, 246 colleges and universities have registered to participate in STARS. Santa Clara is among the first 37 institutions to submit data, and earned a silver rating in January.

SCU was highlighted in the STARS report for the new Experiential Learning for Social Justice core requirement, which every undergraduate must complete. ELSJ is meant to cultivate social justice, civic life, perspective and civic engagement. The annual review is free to download and a great resource to learn more about sustainability in higher education.

Sustainable Office Award Program
While students are learning to compost, participating in the Residence Energy Challenge, and going meatless on Mondays, ample sustainability changes are also happening within the offices and departments of Santa Clara University. The Sustainable Office Award Program (SOAP) allows faculty and staff to foster a culture of sustainability in their own areas on the Santa Clara campus.

Each participating department undergoes an initial self-evaluation, which includes calculating energy use and typical office behaviors. A Sustainability Intern from the Office of Sustainability leads the department in a Kick-Off Meeting and facilitates a departmental discussion to develop ideas and plans to improve sustainable behaviors in the department.

Recently, the Office of Student Life and the Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS) have participated in SOAP. Student Life thought they could involve resident students in more sustainability events on campus, and CSTS earned innovation points for their Global Social Benefit Incubator.

The next department to participate in SOAP is University Operations, a division that includes Campus Safety, Facilities, Utilities, Environmental Health and Safety, Projects and Planning, and the Office of Sustainability.

Bronco Urban Garden (BUG) Farm Internship
Are you interested in food justice, sustainable agriculture or getting dirty? Then the Bronco Urban Gardens (BUG) Farm Internship might be for you. The internship will be hands-on, and will emphasize agroecology and organic farming techniques, as well as direct marketing of the produce to low-income communities and other local venues, including SCU. For more information and to apply please contact Marsha at

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