Sustainability Initiative at Aquinas College

Sustainability News & Events

Sustainability Events (on-campus)

Instagram Competition: April 9th to April 29th 
Want to win a reusable notebook from the future and a solar powered charger? Engage with “AQ_Sustainability” on Instagram from April 9th to April 29th for your chance to win. Submit photos of you, your friends, or your colleagues engaging in energy saving activities, such as using energy efficient electronics, unplugging, turning off lights, using energy efficient bulbs, or even rethinking activities to eliminate energy use! Make sure to use the hashtag #LightsOutAQ with the photo.

April 18 from 3pm to 4pm
Help us celebrate energy quad and raise awareness about energy use by turning off your office/dorm lights for one hour on April 18th from 3pm to 4pm. It’s a great opportunity to let the bright spring sun light up your workspace! If you can’t turn off your light during this time, try committing to another energy-saving activity like unplugging appliances or bringing in a lunch that can be eaten cold. Show us what you do to save energy by using the hashtag #LightsOutAQ in your photos and social media posts. 

Sustainability Brownbag: "Two Lenses for Looking at Land:  Ecofeminist Geography and Leopold's Land Ethic"
Date: April 19th from 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Location: Wege Student Center, Loutit Room

Feminist geography explores relationships between genders and physical spaces. Aldo Leopold's "Land Ethic" identifies a need for change in the way humans view and interact with the natural environment. Join Aquinas students Dana VanHuis and Jacob Schantz to explore the intersection of these bodies of work.

We All Live Here Service Day
Date: April 20, 2018
Location: Aquinas College and Marywood
In celebration of Earth Day and the Dominican pillars of community and service, the Aquinas College Infrastructure Sustainability Committee is proud to sponsor "We All Live Here."  Please join us in a day of service dedicated to the care of our common home on Friday, April 20, 2018.  All Aquinas students, staff, faculty, and alumni are encouraged to participate during morning and/or afternoon shifts cleaning up both outdoor and indoor spaces on campus.

Morning Shift (8:45am to 11:45am): During the morning shift, crews of Aquinas community members will complete projects at Marywood and Aquinas to honor our beautiful campuses and take care of our earth. Potential activities include improving wooded paths, picking up trash, and working in the community garden. Once you have registered, you will be assigned an activity leader and supplied all the necessary tools. You can even sign up an entire group. Participants are encouraged to join us for a complimentary lunch, after their shift, from 12:00 p.m. to 1 p.m. in the Wege Cafeteria.

Afternoon Shift (1pm to 3pm): Staff and faculty of Aquinas College are encouraged to spend the afternoon within their individual offices and/or departments cleaning and organizing. This can either be in your personal office space, or you can work together as a department to clean-up and tidy the space. Students of Aquinas College are encouraged to spend the afternoon within their residential rooms or spaces cleaning and organizing. This can either be in your personal room, or you can work together as a building to clean-up and tidy common areas. Take advantage of this dedicated time to make your space more inviting for visitors and a more productive working and studying environment. If your area is perfectly tidy, feel free to sign-up for the afternoon and we will assign you to a department needing extra hands!

Students: This is a great opportunity to get required volunteer hours! Staff: Hourly staff who participate will receive regular pay. Please seek supervisor approval before signing up for a shift. Participants are required to register by Monday, April 16. If you have any questions, please contact Jessica Eimer Bowen at >View Poster (PDF)

To watch videos of previous Economicology events, click here (ELM login required)

Off-Campus Events:

Fourth Annual Michigan Energy Summit
Wednesday, April 18, 2018 
Location: Grand Rapids, MI - JW Marriott
The 2018 Energy Summit celebrates he 2017 Michigan Battle of the Buildings "biggest losers" and welcomes the new 2018 competitors. This full day event brings leading building owners and operators from across the state in a peer-to-peer learning platform. You will hear how Michigan companies are successfully reducing heir energy costs while maintaining occupant comfort and increasing productivity. Explore different approaches by corporations, small business, non-profit, governmental and educational institutions. Learn how some are financing projects with no capital and an immediate ROI. Be prepared for a day of networking and sharing of stories around high efficiency building operations. Tickets cost $55 for students, $85 for members, and $95 for non-members. They can be purchased here

2018 AASHE Conference and Expo
Dates: October 2 - 5, 2018
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
We stand at a key moment in history. As sustainability challenges intensify and the window for action grows smaller every day, the need for leadership by higher education is greater than ever. With a theme of “Global Goals: Rising to the Challenge,” the 2018 AASHE Conference & Expo will examine the critical role of higher education in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adopted by the world’s governments in September 2015, the 17 SDGs establish ambitious global targets to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030. Expected to draw approximately 2,000 participants, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE’s) annual conference is the largest stage in North America to exchange effective models, policies, research, collaborations and transformative actions that advance sustainability in higher education and surrounding communities. We invite you to join us and share your knowledge, achievements and ideas.

Sustainability News

Winner of the Great Guru Garbage Games
The 2018 Great Guru Garbage Games is a friendly competition of zero waste gurus fighting to prove that their building is THE zero waste champion to beat! There is both a student category and a faculty/staff category, with the champion in each category winning the traveling sustainability trophy. Each building worked to beat its average (cumulative) diversion rate to date, earning a point each week that the percentage is beat. The building with the highest number of points at the end of the competition wins!! The faculty/staff winner of the 2018 Great Guru Garbage Games is Browne Center!!! Congratulations to Mark Schmidbauer and all of the occupants of BC on this victory! Browne finished the competition with a 4 points out of a possible 4 points and will be the new holder of the Faculty/Staff Sustainability Trophy! The student winner is St. Rose of Lima, with 2 points out of a possible 4. Because Meijer Hall also had 2 points, the winner came down to the building with the highest percent change. Congratulations to Greta Baragar on this accomplishment, the new holder of the Student Sustainability Trophy. Browne Center also had the highest diversion rate during the competition.

Regina Hall Wins the Tip the Scale: A Waste Diversion Competition for the Third Year in a Row!
The 2017 Tip the Scale Competition is finally over! Regina and St. Joseph Halls have been competing since the first day of school to have the highest cumulative waste diversion rate for the month of September! Regina won this year with a monthly diversion rate of 53.54% and St. Joe's finished with a 44.9% diversion rate. We want to thank all those who helped make this competition possible, especially the residents of Regina and St. Joe's! Join us Monday, October 16th in the Regina Lobby from 7:30 am to 10:00 am to celebrate Regina's victory with donuts and coffee.

Homecoming 2017 Was a Zero Waste Event!
Last Saturday the Center for Sustainability teamed up with several volunteers from different RSOs to run four Zero Waste stations placed around campus. Despite the heat we diverted 104.96 pounds of composting and 19.31 pounds of recycling, leaving only 10.19 pounds of trash for an overall diversion rate of 92.4%! Thank you to all of our volunteers, we couldn't have done this without you!

SOS! Meet our New "Saints Out Sustaining" Program!
Saints Out Sustaining (SOS) is a spontaneous reward program designed to encourage sustainable behavior on campus. By getting involved with sustainability on-campus you have the chance to be identified as a "Saint Out Sustaining" by one of our Zero Waste Gurus or Housekeeping staff. When you get caught "out sustaining", you will receive an SOS slip. Fill the slip out with your information and bring it to the Campus Safety Office for a chance to win a Go-Pro Hero at the end of each quad! If you have multiple slips, the better your chances. Email Malory ( with any questions. 

Tip the Scale 2017: A Waste Diversion Competition
Are you ready to Tip the Scales? "Tip the Scale" is an on-campus competition between St. Joe's and Regina which begins on August 28th and continues through the end of September. The building that diverts the most waste away from the landfill is the winner, and holder of the student traveling sustainability trophy! This competition is a great opportunity for first year students to learn more about Zero Waste at Aquinas and practice their sorting skills! Look for weekly updates on the competition and current diversion numbers for each building on the Moose, Sustainability Initiative website and the Center for Sustainability's social media pages. Tip the Scale towards higher rates of diversion and prove that you are the leader in zero waste!

Winner of 2017 AQ Unplugged Energy Competition- April 24, 2017
We're excited to announce that Holmdene Manor won the AQ Unplugged: Energy Competition! They reduced their electricity consumption by 41% from their February baseline, the highest reduction among participating buildings. Honorable mentions go to Sturrus Sports and Fitness Center and Hruby Hall for significant reductions in their electrical consumption. As winners of the competition, Holmdene will hold the faculty/staff traveling sustainability trophy for the summer! To stay up to date on our latest campus energy consumption, check out our energy monitors. They can be found on our website in the left-hand menu or in the lobbies of many buildings around campus. >view full results

Winner of the Great Guru Garbage Games
We're closing out the month and the quad with a new home for the Sustainability Trophies in Albertus Hall and Mother Euphrasia Sullivan Hall! Congrats to Rob Peters and Sister Damien Marie Savino for winning the Faculty/Staff category of the Great Guru Garbage Games! Albertus finished the competition with a 73.2% diversion rate, a 5% improvement from last semester. Congratulations also to Aimee Judd and team for winning the student category of the Great Guru Garbage Games, with an 83.2% diversion rate or 23% improvement. Kudos also go out to Campus Safety with the highest diversion rate during the competition of 93.8%!!! Thanks so much for participating and working so hard. We're on our way to Zero-Waste! >view full results

Aquinas College Named Sustainable Business of the Year
On October 12, 2016, Aquinas College was named the Sustainable Business of the Year by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. The award recognizes organizations that best represent the values of the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. Past winners of the West Michigan Sustainable Business of the Year include Brewery Vivant and Organicycle. This year’s finalists also included Amway, Catalyst Partners, the City of Grand Rapids, Disher Design & Development, Grand Valley State University, Herman Miller, Kent County Department of Public Works, and Rockford Construction. For more information, look here.

We Had a Zero Waste Homecoming!
We are excited to announce that Aquinas' 2016 Homecoming was once again a Zero Waste event! We'd like to give out a big "Thank you" to all of our volunteers, as well as Brigid Avery for her dedication to compostable cups. Overall, we collected 124.32 pounds of compost, 14.2 pounds of recycling, 0.11 pounds of Terracycle, and only 7.16 pounds of trash! This means that our overall diversion rate was 95.1%, well above the 90% minimum required diversion rate for Zero Waste. Happy Sorting! 

Results from the Tip the Scale Competition
The results from our September Tip the Scale Zero Waste competition are in! Regina Hall won the competition with a cumulative diversion rate of 47.6%, and Saint Joseph Hall was close behind with a 42.8% diversion rate. We'd like to congratulate both halls on their great improvement since last year's competition, when the ending diversion rates were 43% and 35.5%, respectively. To celebrate Regina's success, a small doughnut party will be held in the Regina Lobby from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on October 10th. 

Aquinas to be Honored by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum
At the upcoming WMSBF Triple Botton Line Bash (See Off-Campus Events above for details), Aquinas' own Deborah Steketee will be inducted into the West Michigan Sustainable Business Hall of Fame. In addition, Aquinas alum Eric Saigeon of Intertek is being honored as the "Future Hall of Famer." If you have not yet voted, please consider supporting Aquinas College as a candidate for the Sustainable Business of the Year. Vote here by October 7th to help Aquinas win.

Looking for more? Visit our News:Archives page for older news about the Center for Sustainability.