Sustainability Initiative  


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American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC)

"The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment is a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions, and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the Earth’s climate. Building on the growing momentum for leadership and action on climate change, the Presidents Climate Commitment provides a framework and support for America’s colleges and universities to go climate neutral. The Commitment recognizes the unique responsibility that institutions of higher education have as role models for their communities and in training the people who will develop the social, economic and technological solutions to reverse global warming." (ACUPCC) Aquinas College signed the Commitment in September 2008.
Update (February 2011)
The Center for Sustainability is working diligently to meet our first, short term goals laid out in the Climate Action Plan, and to update our carbon footprint. In particular, a system is in development to better track directly financed outsourced travel.
Update (September 2010)
Aquinas has met the first, second, and third requirements of the ACUPCC. Most recently, the Climate Action Plan, an institutional action plan for Aquinas to become "climate neutral," was completed and submitted to the ACUPCC.
Aquinas Submits Greenhouse Gas Report
In September 2009, the Center for Sustainability at AQ completed and submitted the college's greenhouse gas report. The report takes a closer look at Aquinas’ carbon footprint and poses a level playing field for comparison between other schools carbon outputs. A carbon footprint analysis measures the amount of carbon emitted due to the operation of an organization, whether it be through heating and cooling, lighting, transportation, and so on. Taking the time to prepare and execute a carbon footprint analysis is not an easy process, but Aquinas is loyal to our continued commitment to sustainability. The information in the report will guide our development of a strategy to seriously address AQ’s impact on global climate change, as well as measure our progress from year to year.

The report revealed that 7,414 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) are emitted into the air each year from the operation of Aquinas College. This total can be normalized using the total number of students enrolled during the reporting period (by full time equivalent), but also by the amount of space we have developed on campus. These statistics can be found below:

  • Per Full-Time Equivalent: 4.1 metric tons of CO2e
  • Per 1000 Square Feet of Building Space: 11.4 metric tons of CO2e

Compare that to Grand Valley State University that emits 2.3 metric tons of CO2 per full-time enrollment and 12.8 metric tons of CO2 per 1000 square feet. The carbon sequestration from the beautiful trees on Aquinas campus did however offset 0.7% of our emissions, compared to Grand Valley’s 0.3%.

With the understanding that this report is a starting point comes the excitement that we can only improve from here. There are still many steps Aquinas can take toward becoming a prominent example of sustainability at work for surrounding colleges and universities.
>See Aquinas’ Greenhouse Gas Report
Aquinas Submits Implementation Profile for the ACUPCC
As stated in the requirements of the ACUPCC, Aquinas is expected to complete an Implementation Profile within two months of signing the commitment. Aquinas agreed to initiate the following tangible actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while our climate action plan is in development:
  • Adopt an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.
  • Encourage use of and provide access to public transportation for all faculty, staff, students and visitors at our institution.
  • Participate in the Waste Minimization component of the national RecycleMania competition, and adopt 3 or more associated measures to reduce waste.
>View the College's implementation profile
President Balog Joins Leadership in ACUPCC
Aquinas College emphasized its commitment to sustainability and combating climate change this past summer by joining the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).  And now, the selection of Aquinas President Ed Balog to the 2009-2010 ACUPCC Steering Committee, comprised of the heads of 22 member institutions, further highlights sustainability goals of both the president and Aquinas College. >Read More
Aquinas Signs the Presidents Climate Commitment
President Balog formally signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in September 2008. In doing so, Aquinas has committed to creating a strategy to greatly reduce our carbon footprint. The specific responsibilities of the Commitment include:
  1. Within two months of signing this document, create institutional structures to guide the development and implementation of the plan.
  2. Within one year, complete a comprehensive inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions (including emissions from electricity, heating, commuting, and air travel) and update the inventory every other year thereafter.
  3. Within two years of signing this document, develop an institutional action plan for becoming "climate neutral."
Through the active engagement of the Center for Sustainability, the sustainability committees, and all campus community members, Aquinas will undoubtedly meet the requirements of the Presidents Climate Commitment and advance our institution’s sustainability goals.
For more information and to read the Commitment in its entirety, please visit:
American Colleges & University Presidents Climate Commitment