Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University's Energy and Climate Neutrality Initiative

Photo Courtesy: Center for Sustainability, SCU
On Wed., July 30, Sustainable Silicon Valley (SSV) had the opportunity to attend a seminar at Santa Clara University (SCU), California’s oldest operating Jesuit, Catholic University. The seminar titled “Energy and Climate Neutrality,” is part of the ongoing Summer Series. The featured speaker, Lindsey Kalkbrenner, is SCU’s Director of the Center for Sustainability.
To help reduce its carbon footprint, SCU signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007 and drafted its goals and action plans in 2010. Also, Santa Clara University adopted an Integrated Strategic Plan to create a more humane, just, and sustainable world.
Since universities are akin to small cities, the strategies and solutions that SCU develops, can be replicated by businesses, communities and local governments. Universities are uniquely positioned to promote research, educate students who will be the next generation of change agents, and provide leadership-by-example for the rest of the community.
Solar Panel
   Photo Courtesy: Center for Sustainability, Santa Clara University
Walking around the SCU’s campus, it’s hard not to notice that the University is taking its commitment towards its sustainability seriously. Strategically placed recycling bins, single use items for Terracycle, posters and banners detailing conservation tips, water filling stations, students carrying reusable bottles, porous pavements, solar panels on the rooftop and parking garage, and LED lighting are all part of SCU’s sustainability efforts.
SCU’s Center for Sustainability is so passionate about creative solutions that it is well on its way to achieving its goal of being Climate Neutral by the end of 2015. “Carbon Neutral” refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing the amount of carbon released, with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or by purchasing carbon credits to make up the difference - Read More
Below are a few of the initiatives that Lindsey discussed during the “Energy and Climate Neutrality” seminar:
Wind Turbine
    Photo Courtesy: Center for Sustainability, Santa Clara University
Energy: SCU has installed 1.05 MW Photovoltaic Panels that account for 6% of its typical electricity needs and 20% summer daytime demand. The 10-KW Wind Turbine produces enough to power an average home for 49 days. SCU reduces its bills by 70% and offsets 34 tons of CO2 by heating water with its Solar Thermal System on the Benson Center’s Rooftop that generated 41000 therms of energy last year. The Smart Microgrid can align the power source (Solar, Wind, Thermal), its transmission, distribution and consumption data in real time to weather reports to amplify energy savings and limit carbon emissions. SCU can virtually control mechanical systems throughout the University with their Energy Management System (EMS) that integrates with the Microgrid allowing them to conserve energy in real time. SCU also upgraded their lighting and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems to reduce energy consumption. After on-site renewable energy generation, the purchase of renewable energy certificates could be used as a subsequent option for supporting the goal.
   Photo Courtesy: Center for Sustainability, Santa Clara University
Transportation: Discounts for public transportation passes are offered to staff. Fifty-percent of the SCU campus fleet/ vehicles are hybrid or electric. They offer incentives for carpooling and encourage bicycling.
Built Environment: Currently, one of their buildings is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified and 3 additional buildings are pending LEED Gold certification. All new campus construction will meet LEED Gold certification standards. To augment its goal, SCU promotes Composting, Waste Reduction, Avoiding of landfills, Water Conservation, and Recycling. Additionally, SCU uses EPEAT Gold Certified Computers and Energy STAR Certified Appliances as part of their sustainability measures.

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Sulakshna Shrivastava, 28th August, 2014

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