Sustainability Initiative at Aquinas College

Sustainability News & Events

Sustainability Events (on-campus)

Economicology Forum: “Grand River Revitalization and Rapids Restoration: Exploring a Holistic Approach to a Complex Project”
Date: February 15, 2018 from 6pm to 8:30pm (Doors open at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:00 p.m., program at 6:30 p.m.)
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan. Aquinas College (Wege Student Center, Ballroom, 3rd Floor)
Want to know more about what is going on with the “Restoring the Rapids” initiative in Grand Rapids? Come join us for this spring’s Economicology Forum and panel discussion on February 15th. Find out the latest from our panel consisting of leaders in the scientific and recreational communities as well as experts from Grand Rapids Whitewater, an innovative local nonprofit organization focused on the revitalization of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. The panel will look at the project through multiple lenses and in the context of integral ecology as promoted in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’. Dinner will be provided, but registration is requested here
Free and open to the public. The Economicology Initiative at Aquinas has been funded by a generous grant from the Wege Foundation. Event Co-Sponsored by the Center for Sustainability at Aquinas College, Office of the Dean of Science and Sustainability, and the Grand Valley Metro Council. >View Poster

We All Live Here Service Day
Date: April 20, 2018
Location: Aquinas College
In celebration of Earth Day and the Dominican pillars of community and service, the Aquinas College Sustainability Committees are 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 this event, crews of Aquinas community members will complete projects at Aquinas College to honor our beautiful campus and take care of our earth. Potential activities include improving wooded paths, picking up trash, and working in the community garden. Check back for more details.

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

Off-Campus Events:

Our Children’s Future
Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 from 5pm-10pm
Location: Grand Rapids, MI- Wealthy Street Theater 
The Grand Rapids Chapter of the Citizen's Climate Lobby is coordinating this fun-filled and action-filled event. Our Children's Future hopes to: 1) Build grassroots awareness of climate change, demonstrate ways to engineer social change, and reduce feelings of helplessness; 2) Focus particular attention on youth; 3) Provide networking opportunities with the goal of creating a coalition; and 4) Invite politicians from local, state and federal levels to initiate a discussion about climate change and CCL. The event will feature a virtual keynote presentation by Our Children's Trust, a panel discussion focused on local issues and action-based strategies, action tables, and local arts and music. Contact John Considine ( or John Chronowski ( for more information about this event.

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

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.