Sustainability Initiative  




Progress: Energy Conservation

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.


  • Carbon Footprint: 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.>View AQ's most recent Carbon Footprint


  • Progress Report: The Progress Report is intended to help Aquinas assess and track progress toward the goals outlined in our Climate Action Plans and to share that progress with our stakeholders and the general public. Since signing onto the ACUPCC in 2008, 75 energy efficiency projects were completed and 4 buildings were granted LEED certification from the USGBC. These projects include: upgrading boilers from 60 to 92% efficiency in 7 campus buildings, upgrading roofing insulation on 5 campus buildings, and upgrading a number of light fixtures. These projects have produced cost savings, along with the reduction of Aquinas’s overall carbon footprint. >View AQ's 2013 Progress Report

  •  Climate Action Plan (CAP): A CAP is an institutional action plan for Aquinas to become "climate neutral" by 2040. Our 30-year Climate Action Plan focuses on six key areas of continual improvement: Built Environment, Land Use, Solid Waste Management, and Transportation, The Human Factor and Leading and Learning. A diverse portfolio of strategies – including operational, technical, educational, behavioral, and financial approaches—comprise our approach for each of the six key areas identified above. All of these approaches will require resolve, partnership, and persistence throughout the planning period. Energy conservation will be the first strategy used to decrease Aquinas' carbon footprint, followed by generating renewable energy on-campus, purchasing green power, and purchasing offsets as a last resort.  >View AQ's Climate Action Plan
On-site Renewable Energy
The Jarecki Center for Advanced Learning at Aquinas College employs a unique 12 kW capacity photovoltaic array. The UNISOLAR ® photovoltaic system, manufactured by United Solar Ovonic, was designed to seamlessly integrate into the building’s architecture by complementing a durable metal roofing substrate, as shown in the photograph above. Annually, the building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) system produces approximately 14,400 kWh per year and is estimated to provide approximately 4% of the total annual electrical consumption of the building. This output avoids nearly 12 tons of carbon dioxide, 122 lbs. of sulfur dioxide, and 63 lbs. of nitrogen oxide if the power were to be produced by the combustion of fossil fuels. The solar array was a cutting edge for it's time, installed in 1999! >View the information sheet (PDF)
Lighting Retrofits on Campus
In light of the detrimental effects of mercury on the environment, Physical Plant only installs Phillips ALTO bulbs campus-wide. The ALTO bulb has the least amount of mercury compared to other fluorescent products and the lowest price. This simple switch has allowed Aquinas to save money within its built environment, decrease energy costs, and lessen our negative impact on the environment.
Another success story from our Physical Plant Department is in the selection of LED exit signs as a replacement for existing exit signs and future signage. Exit signs must be lit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This can compounded quickly in terms of energy costs when you consider the number of signs used on a typical college campus. The highly efficient LED exit signs can offer lifetime savings of up to $300 per sign in reduced energy, materials, and labor costs as compared with incandescent models. The bulbs on the units purchased are rated for a 20 year life and require very little, if any, maintenance.