Sustainability Initiative  




Our Success Stories: Policy & Commitments

Campus Zero Waste Policy
As a part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, Aquinas College committed to becoming a zero waste to landfill campus by 2020. The Center for Sustainability and Students Striving for Sustainability (S3) are partnering to further Aquinas’ commitment to sustainability by moving forward the goal to achieve campus-wide zero municipal solid waste by 2014.

A Zero Waste Team is in place to assist in educational programs concerning Aquinas’ waste streams. With collaboration of faculty, staff, and students, Aquinas will incrementally reduce our waste by 25% each semester for the next two years, by expanding campus composting and recycling efforts. With everyone working together, we can reach this aggressive goal and be a zero waste campus by 2014!

New Campus-Wide Smoking Policy
Implementation Status: Implementation began on January 1, 2012
Aquinas' campus-wide smoking policy has undergone its newest change, with the recent introduction of designated smoking areas throughout campus. The restriction of on campus smoking areas is beneficial to the health of students, staff, faculty and the community that visit Aquinas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are approximately 3,000 deaths from lung cancer and 37,000 deaths in heart disease related to second hand smoke a year. Second hand smoke consists of more than 4,000 chemicals. Nearly 200 of these are poisons, while at least 69 are carcinogens. ( The first sustainability initiative proposal related to smoking on campus was submitted by students Claire Hogan and Thomas McBride in October 2006. It was passed by the Student Senate, Faculty, and Staff Assemblies in the spring of 2007 as an official campus-wide smoking policy that required smokers to stand at least 10 feet away from all buildings.

Under the new smoking policy, smoking on campus is only permitted in eight select areas. Signs have been posted in the following locations on campus, indicating designated smoking areas:

  • Main entrance to St. Joe's Hall
  • Tower north of the campus safety building
  • Picnic table east of AMC
  • Picnic table in front of Ravine Apartment A
  • Patio at JLH
  • Path where Knape meets Donnelly
  • Corner of Elderberry and MLK Drive
  • Southeast corner of PAC, adjacent to Plymouth Lot
This new restriction to designated smoking areas became official as of January 1, 2012. To aid in the implementation process, campus members are encouraged to remind one another of the rules and the various locations of the designated smoking areas.
Map & Information
Excessive Idling Policy

Implementation Status: Policy passed and Fully Implemented

Aquinas College is an "idle-free" campus, meaning no vehicle is permitted to idle longer than 5 minutes while on college property. An unattended idling vehicle poses not only a safety threat, but also a security risk. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, diesel exhaust accounts for up to 78% of added risk of cancer in the outdoor air. This includes all other hazardous air pollutants in the United States. ( By limiting the amount of time vehicles are permitted to idle to 5 minutes, the policy helps to preserve the natural beauty of campus while simultaneously supporting AQ's pledge to the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Certain exceptions have been written into the policy to accommodate buses and diesel engines in extreme temperatures.

The excessive idling policy was introduced as a formal sustainability proposal in the spring of 2011 by Dr. Chaffee. The proposal received a 5- on a 1 to 5 scale- in the Joint Sustainability Committee (3/2/2011), passed the Student Senate (4/20/2011) and received final approval from Provost Gunnoe on April 28, 2011.
Energy Star Purchasing Policy
Implementation Status: Fully Implemented

To help minimize energy use from equipment, Aquinas College has an appliance purchasing policy in place. All new appliances that are purchased must be Energy Star qualified. This policy ensures that the most efficient appliances available on the market are purchased, helping Aquinas save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

LEED Certified Building Policy
Implementation Status: Fully Implemented

Aquinas College has adopted a policy for new building construction and major renovation projects. All construction projects must be LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. This policy ensures that quality, environmentally considerate buildings and projects are undertaken on campus. LEED buildings encourage designers to integrate green features in the planning phase, instead of trying to retrofit the structure later to include them. LEED certified buildings use local materials, recycle construction waste, and use building techniques to help reduce energy consumption and waste. Aquinas College hopes to limit the impacts on the environment during campus construction projects through this policy.


American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC)

Implementation Status: The Center for Sustainability is working to meet our first, short term goals laid out in the Climate Action Plan, and to update our carbon footprint.
"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. 
Aquinas College Signs the Talloires Declaration
Implementation Status: The Declaration was signed Summer 2007
Dr. Ed Balog As one of his first official acts as Aquinas College president, C. Edward Balog recently signed the Talloires Declaration. In 2002, the College launched its commitment to sustainability through the establishment of an undergraduate major in Sustainable Business and expanded its outreach to the community in 2005 with the creation of the Center for Sustainability. The recent signing of the Talloires Declaration further supports Aquinas College’s institutional pledge to educate, implement, and live the principles of sustainability. Established in 1990, the Talloires Declaration is an official commitment by presidents, rectors, and vice chancellors of universities and colleges to integrate environmental sustainability into the curriculum and processes of higher education. It includes ten specific actions, such as fostering environmental literacy for the entire campus, and involving all stakeholders in the process. Aquinas College joins approximately 356 institutions in over 40 countries which have made a commitment to the Talloires Declaration.
*Note: These links are only accessible from the Aquinas computer network and AQNet.