Sustainability Initiative at Aquinas College

Sustainability News & Events

Sustainability Events

On-Campus Events

Fix-It Fair: AQ Bikes Edition
Date: April 12, 2023; 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Location: Wege Mall
Hey, Sustainable Saints! Are you ready to break your bike out of storage now that spring is in the air? If so, it might be time for a bicycle tune-up. Even if you think your bike is in tip-top shape, experts recommend an inspection and tune-up twice a year. Maintenance extends the life of your Silver Stallion (or whatever you may call your bike) and assures you will be riding it safely in zero-emissions style. Campus Safety, the Center for Sustainability, Sociology Department, and Marketing Department are partnering up for the Fix-it Fair: AQ Bikes Edition on Wednesday, April 12 from 1-3 PM. All staff, faculty, and students can bring their bicycles to the Wege Mall for a FREE inspection and basic maintenance by a local bike shop. This is the perfect opportunity to fill up your tires, adjust your seat, and inspect your brakes and gears to prepare for the summer riding season. Please email Ryan at or call 616-632-2449 with any questions. If you cannot attend the event but still want your bike checked out, you can contact Ryan to set up a time.

Donate It: NEW in 2023!! Aquinas College is partnering with Upcycle Bikes, a new local non-profit, who refurbishes used adult bikes and provides them to partner organizations serving refugees, shelter clients, and other community members needing an affordable and accessible transportation option. Aquinas College will be holding a bike collection the entire month of April with the goal of collecting fifty used adult bikes. If you, a friend or family member has a bike to donate, contact Ryan at or call 616-632-2449. Adult bikes only.

Contemporary Writers Series featuring CMarie Fuhrman 
: April 13, 2023; 6pm
Location: Art and Music Center
Season 26 of the Contemporary Writers Series will feature Native Voices in Literature. CMarie Fuhrman is co-editor of "Cascadia: A Field Guide Through Art, Ecology, and Poetry" (Mountaineers Press, 2023), co-editor of "Native Voices: Indigenous American Poetry Craft and Conversations" (Tupelo Press 2019), and the author of "Camped Beneath the Dam: Poems" (Floodgate 2020). She serves as the 2021-2023 Idaho Writer in Residence, where she lives. CMarie will perform April 13, 2023, at 6:00 p.m. in the Kretschmer Recital Hall in the Art & Music Center on the campus of Aquinas College. This event is free and open to the public. The Center for Sustainability is a co-sponsor of this event. <link

"We All Live Here" Service Day
Date: April 19, 2023 
In celebration of Earth Day, Arbor 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 Wednesday, April 19, 2023. Crews of Aquinas staff, faculty, and students will complete projects at Aquinas to honor our beautiful campus. Potential activities include improving wooded paths, picking up trash, planting trees, and working in the community garden. All projects will be outside, so please dress for the weather. The two available volunteer shifts include morning (9am to 11am) and afternoon (1:30pm to 3:30pm). Register here: 

Off-Campus Events

U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan 2023 Michigan Energy Summit >Link
: April 18, 2023
Location: Grand Rapids, MI 
The Michigan Energy Summit is the premier energy conference of the year. With industry experts discussing the future of clean energy in Michigan, you will hear about the latest technologies, innovations, financing, and grant opportunities. You can expect to meet energy professionals at the Summit that can provide guidance and expertise, as well as building owners who will share their unique experiences with emission reductions and energy savings. The full-day conference will focus on incoming financial incentives and grant opportunities for decarbonization, the direction of Michigan’s energy future through a government lens, and how utilities are advancing clean, reliable energy for Michigan. The event will also feature the Michigan Battle of the Buildings Award Ceremony where the 2022 Biggest Losers will be awarded for their energy conservation achievements. You will also enjoy a continental breakfast, lunch, refreshments, and a prize giveaway at the Detroit Lions Happy Hour, with craft beer sponsored by Brewery Vivant.

Michigan Recycling Coalition (MRC) Conference 2023 >Link
: May 9-11, 2023
Location: Kalamazoo, MI 
At the Michigan Recycling Coalition Annual Conference, you can join your colleagues for an opportunity to tackle any or all of your recycling challenges. This year's conference will give you an opportunity to network with service providers, equipment dealers, program and service experts, and other recycling professionals like yourself, to bring new life to your plans and programming. You will also have the opportunity to learn from educational sessions and featured speakers as we gear up to seize opportunities years in the making.

2023 Michigan Climate Summit >Link
: June 2, 2023
Location: Rochester, MI 
Addressing the climate crisis calls for social action, guided by science, informed by values, and fueled by emotional engagement. This year, in addition to science and policy, we’re convening even more movement makers and connecting to the broader cultural work of artists, storytellers, educators, and activists. Our vision is for an accessible, interactive, and fun day focused on increasing our collective capacity, supporting each other, and unleashing the creative potential of the climate movement to transform culture. Our planning committee is hard at work on panels that will include youth, local climate leaders, state legislators and Whitmer administration officials, how-to sessions, and more!

Michigan Environmental Justice Conference >Link
: June 21-22, 2023
Location: Detroit, MI 
2023 Michigan Environmental Justice Conference, hosted by the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate in the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy June 21-22, 2023 at the University of Detroit-Mercy campus in Detroit, Michigan. The goal of this 2-day, in-person conference is to convene conversations, explore actions, present research and continue progress toward achieving environmental justice in Michigan. The 2023 conference will focus on the theme of Advancing Environmental Justice: Working Together Toward Progress.

Sustainability News

Midyear Update: Zero-Waste (January 2023)

Is Aquinas College a zero-waste campus? Quick answer: no. But we are making great strides toward that goal. Sustainability is integral to Aquinas, strengthening our Dominican and Catholic traditions of being good stewards of God’s gifts. The zero waste program (minimizing and sorting waste) is a tangible way for our community to practice sustainability. And based on 2022 data, AQ’s zero waste initiative is ranked 16th in the nation! Because we are halfway through the academic year (and the zero waste initiative just celebrated its 10th year), it’s time to update the campus on our progress.

The current (average since July 1, 2022) diversion rate for the campus is 59.4%, meaning we are diverting 59.4% of waste from landfills. Last year at this time, we had a 58.6% diversion rate. While our waste diversion rate has slightly increased this year, we are seeing much lower waste diversion rates since Covid started. (For example, Aquinas boasted a 70.5% waste diversion rate in 2019.)

In comparing Fall 2022 to Fall 2021, we have much to celebrate. Many campus buildings have improved zero waste performance, including all classroom spaces, Brookby, several campus apartments, and Regina Hall. Regina Hall improved its diversion rate from 24.8% to 33.7%! Fr. Bartolome increased from 16.5% to 34.9%. However, we have some hard work ahead of us. Many campus buildings have falling waste diversion rates, such as the Wege Student Center (non-dining), St. Martin de Porres Hall, Sturrus/Alksnis, Campus Safety, Meijer Hall, and the Cook Carriage House. At the end of this memo, you will find the current performance of each of our campus buildings.

We need your help to continue to move the needle toward zero waste. Waste is significant this spring, as Aquinas will compete in the national Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition from Jan. 30 to Mar. 26. This competition gives us our national rankings (16th last year). Please continue to model sustainable behavior by sorting waste and encouraging students and peers to do the same. A simple reminder to a student can encourage new (sustainable) habits.

Thanks for all you have done and continue to do to support zero waste. With your help, we will make Aquinas zero waste (and become the first college in the nation to reach that goal)! As a reminder, weekly zero waste progress by building can always be viewed on the Sustainability Initiative website here: You are also welcome to contact Jessica Eimer Bowen at for more information on your building or to schedule a zero-waste training/refresher. Go, Saints!

Building name, followed by the waste diversion rate for Fall 2022 and Fall 2021.

  • Academic Building- 68.5%; 58.5%
  • Albertus Hall- 62.0%; 56.6%
  • Art & Music Center- 48.9%; 36.0%
  • Jarecki-Lacks Center- 64.0%; 50.3%
  • Sturrus & Alksnis- 47.1%; 48.6%
  • Browne Center- 74.4%; 57.3%
  • Campus Safety Office- 72.7%; 80.4%
  • Cook Carriage House- 69.4%; 75.7%
  • Donnelly Center- 67.5%; 57.3%
  • Flannery Hall- 85.0%; 78.3%
  • Holmdene- 77.0%; 69.1%
  • Our Lady Seat of Wisdom- 78.5%; 82.9%
  • Performing Arts Center- 30.5%; 34.6%
  • Wege Student Center (non-dining)- 39.9%; 58.3%
  • Fr. Bartolome Hall (B)- 34.9%; 16.5%
  • Brookby Estate- 60.6%; 10.4%
  • Eberhard Hall (A)- 25.8%; 26.7%
  • M. Euphrasia Hall- 34.4%; 9.9%
  • Hruby Hall- 76.0%; 78.7%
  • Knape Hall- 26.4%; 11.8%
  • Meijer Hall- 26.3%; 52.5%
  • Regina Hall- 33.7%; 24.8%
  • St. Catherine Hall (C)- 39.0%; 19.1%
  • St. Joseph Hall- 21.0%; 21.0%
  • St. Martin Hall (D)- 26.4%; 33.1%
  • St. Rose Hall (E)- 37.9%; 26.1%
  • Willowbrook Hall- 82.3%; 77.8%
  • Dining Services- 86.7%; 88.0%

Fall 2022: July 1, 2022- December 4, 2022
Fall 2021: July 1, 2021 – December 5, 2021

Aquinas College is awarded a Bronze BFU designation
In Fall 2022, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Aquinas College with a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University (BFUSM) award once again. Aquinas has held this recognition since 2015. In the most recent recognition year, Aquinas is one of 9 Michigan schools to receive this designation. Aquinas joins a cutting-edge group of colleges and universities across the United States that are transforming their campuses and the communities around them. Looking ahead, Aquinas will have access to a variety of free tools and technical assistance from the League to become even more bicycle-friendly.

2022 AQ "Tree of the Year"
The Campus Tree Advisory Committee (C-TAC) and the AQ Writing Center hosted the 2nd annual AQ “Tree of the Year” Competition in October 2022. Big or small, any tree can be the winner! This competition celebrates what brings life to our campus and air to our lungs...the trees. After giving the campus an opportunity to nominate and vote for their favorite tree, we would like to announce the winning tree which will forever be commemorated with a 2022 "Tree of the Year" plaque. The 2022 Tree of the Year is the Black Walnut, a Michigan native species submitted by Kacey C. Please join me in congratulating Kacey. The top 3 tree submissions were as follows: Black Walnut between CCH and Regina. Shumard Oak in front of St. Joe's. Red Oak at the start of the walk to St.  Joe's from Physical Plant.

2022 Friar's Challenge is a Success! 
The final results of the Friar's Challenge are in.....NO ONE BEAT THE CAMPUS FRIARS IN WILLOWBROOK! While they remain the zero waste "building to beat," we would like to congratulate Hruby Hall on coming the closest to Willowbrook's waste diversion rate. It was a very tight race! Willowbrook finished with a 74.2% diversion rate and Hruby Hall finished with a 73.7% diversion rate. Please congratulate Hruby Hall residents on a job well done. Hruby Hall will hold the traveling sustainability trophy and are invited to a barbeque with the friars. Thank you all for your hard work and participation. We would also like to congratulate RA Ethan B. on winning the RA Sustainability Education Challenge! He designed a beautiful bulletin board focused on zero waste sorting best practices. 

2021 AQ Campus Race to Zero Waste Winners
Our on-campus waste competition has come to a close and we have our winners! The full rankings can be found here. The Faculty/Staff Category winner is ... the Cook Carriage House! Congratulations to Zero Waste Advocates Mallory Miller, Ramil Collier, and all of the occupants of CCH on this victory! CCH finished the competition with four points out of a possible four points (plus a 74% diversion rate!) and will be the new holder of the Faculty/Staff Sustainability Trophy. The Student Category winner is ... Hruby Hall, with four points out of a possible four points (and an 80% diversion rate). Congratulations to all the students at Hruby Hall on this accomplishment. You will be the new holder of the Student Sustainability Trophy. We also like to recognize the building with the highest diversion rate during the AQ Race to Zero Waste. Campus Safety finished the competition with an impressive 84% diversion rate. You all are rock stars!

Aquinas College recognized as top performer in 2020 Sustainable Campus Index
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s 2020 Sustainable Campus Index lists Aquinas College as one of the top performers in the area of waste, a category that assesses waste minimization and reduction construction, waste diversion and hazardous waste management. Aquinas is the only Michigan school to be listed as a top performer in any of the index’s 17 categories. Aquinas achieved a third-place ranking in the waste category by earning 80.1%, nearly 35 percentage points above the 45.3% average score for all institutions in the category.

Aquinas featured in The Princeton Review 2021 guide to green colleges
The Princeton Review listed Aquinas College as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges in its Guide to Green Colleges: 2021 Edition. This is the 10th time the Aquinas has made the list. The guide notes the broad range of sustainability activities at Aquinas, from its seven LEED-certified buildings and one LEED-registered building to its local food program with dining services, integration of sustainability issues into the academic curriculum, efficient and innovative changes in its physical infrastructure and campus-wide zero-waste program. Released in October, the Guide to Green Colleges profiles institutions based on a survey of administrators at 695 colleges. The publication’s editors analyze more than 25 data points in choosing the final 416 schools for the guide. Aquinas scored a 98 out of 99 in the publication’s Green Rating, a comprehensive measure of performance as an environmentally aware and prepared institution.

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