Sustainability Initiative at Aquinas College

News: Archives

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 (mcm004@aquinas.edu) 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.

Move-in Diversion Rate 
The Center for Sustainability led a Zero Initiative for Freshmen Move-in on August 18th. Our interns and several dedicated volunteers helped break down and sort all of the packaging waste generated during Move-in to ensure our first year students start the year their green foot forward. The final diversion rate of the event was 78%, which, while it isn't high enough to qualify as Zero Waste, was still 10% higher than the overall college diversion rate at that time. Thank you to all of our volunteers who helped make this happen! 

Tip the Scale: 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 22nd 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! 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!

Holmdene's New Water Station is a Huge Success!
In an effort to keep Holmdene employees and visitors hydrated and healthy, a water bottle filling station was recently installed to replace the building's Absopure water cooler. This is exciting news for several reasons.
1. After being drained of water, the single-use 5 gallon Absopure jugs have to be recycled. While we love recycling, the plastic material can only be used once to make a new product (such as carpet) and then it is landfilled. This is why we always encourage reusable items over disposable items, regardless of their recyclability. 
2. Many plastic jugs also contain bisphenol-A, also known as BPA, or similar chemicals. BPA is known to be an endocrine disruptor, a substance that changes the messages your body's hormones send out. Even jugs that do not not contain BPA specifically contain similar endocrine disruptors, which is why single-use bottles and jugs labeled "BPA free" may still be dangerous.
3. The water station saved 100 single-use plastic water bottles within its first week of operation. At this rate, it will save over 5,000 water bottles in a year. 
4. Holmdene's efforts are a financial success as well. Annually, water coolers generally cost departments between $500 and $1,000. The Elkay water station only cost $933, excluding additional purchases like fittings/plumbing equipment. That means the investment will pay for itself in less than a year! The fixture was also creatively financed, using funds the Foundation would have spent this year on the Absopure water cooler as well as Coca-Cola sponsorship dollars. 
The Holmdene water bottle refill station can be found on the 2nd floor near the elevator. Check it out and refill your water bottle next time you're in the area!

Resources for Disposing of Waste Off-Campus
In looking at the list of zero waste office pledges and our college’s impressive (top 10) waste diversion rate, our community’s commitment to zero waste is truly palpable. What’s even more clear is the staff, student, and faculty passion for the initiative. We’ve seen so much dedication to zero waste that people are beginning to implement zero waste principles at home and requesting to use our waste streams across campus for their personal waste. While we certainly applaud the effort, we cannot take off-campus waste from staff, faculty, students, or community members. This increases expenses for Physical Plant and changes our campus diversion rate metric. While we want you to continue to use our systems for on-campus generated waste, please do not bring any waste from home to dispose on the Aquinas campus. 
Here are a few resources to help you implement zero waste at home:
• If you live in a single family home in the City of Grand Rapids, you can recycle for free! Visit the City of Grand Rapids website to sign up.
• Commercial composting is also available in the Greater Grand Rapids area through the company Organicycle. The weekly curbside pick-up only costs about $65 every three months, and the company accepts the same waste as AQ’s composting system. (In fact, it goes to the same facility.)
• Goodwill accepts donations at nearly all of their stores.
• You can sign up for Terracycle for your home!
• All electronic waste (anything with a battery or a cord) can be dropped off for free at a Comprenew location! (Please note: There is a small fee for televisions. However, you can recycle your old television for free from July 18th through September 30th at Kent County facilities. Learn more here.)
• Properly dispose of hard to recycle items such as paint, antifreeze, and fire extinguishers! Visit the Recycle Kentsite to learn more.
Thank you for your continued support and passion for the Zero Waste Initiative at Aquinas.

How to Win a Zero Waste Competition
The Center for Sustainability recently completed a case study covering how the Campus Safety office won the Great Guru Garbage Game which occurred February of 2016. The study includes strategies and attitudes that Campus Safety used to win the Zero Waste Competition. >Read the Study

AQ Nature
Our Tree map is officially online and interactive! Visit nature.aquinas.edu to see a full list of the trees on our campus, their descriptions, and an interactive campus map that shows just where to find them! 

Library Waste Audit Delivers Impressive Results and Interesting Findings
The Center for Sustainability performed a waste audit on the library's waste streams during the month of March. The audit was a part of a zero waste pilot competition for the national RecycleMania competition and Aquinas competed against several other schools across the nation, including Harvard, Clemson University, Michigan State University, and Brigham Young University. We are still waiting on the results from the competition, but are prepared to share the results from the waste audit.

Prior to sorting, the total waste weight was 156.35 pounds, with an impressive diversion rate of 80.7%. If everything was properly sorted by occupants, JLH could have achieved a final diversion rate of 91.9%, 11.3% greater than the original. Based on the Zero Waste International Alliance definition, the building could be labeled “zero waste” with a 90% or higher diversion rate. The trends from this audit show that the AQ community still relies greatly on the convenience of just throwing everything in the trash. They also show a continued misunderstanding of what makes a paper/plastic compostable or recyclable. However, it is suspected that contamination levels of JLH are far less than other buildings, based on anecdotal evidence. The findings above represent opportunities for getting us closer to zero waste and creating targeted educational messages in buildings. >Read More (pdf)

Aquinas Ranks 10th in the Country in Recycling Competition
This Spring, Aquinas College participated in an 8-week national waste competition called RecycleMania. The College finished 10th in the Country, and first in the State, in the Grand Champion Category. AQ has participated in RecycleMania since 2009, ranking 18th last year. RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities.  Over an eight week period, colleges report recycling, composting, and trash weights, to be ranked against hundreds of participating colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. Aquinas has participated in the RecycleMania competition since 2009.  This year's competition had over 350 schools, representing 4.4 million students who recycled or composted 79 million pounds of waste.
>Read more
>View full results from Aquinas College and other participating colleges and universities

Winner of the Tip the Scale Waste Competition: LLC Edition
After a grueling month-long competition between LLCs, the house that came out on top was Mother Euphrasia Sullivan Hall with an 84% diversion rate for the month of February! Congrats to RA Paulina Pei and residents for working hard towards zero-waste! Enjoy your new hammock and Brick Road Pizza! Honorable mention goes to Sister Mildred Hawkins Hall for being close behind with an 82% diversion rate! Great job LLCs keep striving for Zero-Waste! >view full results

A Snapshot of AQ's Current Carbon Footprint
As a part of our sustainability goals, AQ is committed to reducing and eventually eliminating our contribution to global climate change. The Center for Sustainability regularly completes a carbon footprint, which measures that contribution in the form of greenhouse gases (i.e. carbon dioxide). As they say, what gets measured gets managed. We recently completed a carbon footprint for FY 2015 and feel the community should be aware of our progress.

Between 2013 and 2015, Aquinas College decreased overall greenhouse gas emissions from 8,412 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2e) to 8,340 MTCO2e (0.9% of 2013 levels). This is due to a large decrease in the emissions from purchasing electricity, as well as a decrease in the purchase of copy paper and air travel. The biggest increase in emissions since 2013 came from an increase in the purchase of natural gas (11.7%) and an increase in the release of fugitive refrigerants (60.3%). Alksnis, Apartment E, and Brookby were included in the 2015 report for the first time, which might explain the gross increase in natural gas emissions. (Emissions from natural gas decreased on a per square foot basis in 2015.)

While we saw improvement in our overall carbon footprint for FY 2015, we did not come close to our annual carbon reduction goal of 784.80 MTCO2e. We hope that the Green Revolving Fund will provide additional carbon reduction opportunities in the coming years. However, we are going in the right direction! Thanks for all of you who contributed to this decrease. Small steps such as turning off lights and powering down your computer at the end of the day can add up to a sizable impact. Our full carbon footprint can be viewed on the ACUPCC website.

February Waste Competitions
During the month of February, two waste competitions will be held on campus. Tip the Scale Waste Competition: LLC Edition is an opportunity for LLC residents to think of new ways to improve their house’s waste diversion rate while enjoying some friendly competition. The Great Guru Garbage Games is an opportunity for Gurus to compete and prove that their building is the Zero Waste Champion to beat! For more information on both competitions, visit the Zero Waste Competition page.

Aquinas College Named a Bicycle Friendly University! >Read the press release
On November 6th, 2015, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Aquinas College with a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University (BFU award. Aquinas is one of five Michigan schools recognized this year. With the announcement of 49 new and renewing BFUs today from 31 states, Aquinas joins a cutting-edge group of colleges and universities across the United States that are transforming their campuses and the communities around them. There are now 127 BFUs in 42 states and Washington, D.C. Moving forward, Aquinas will have access to a variety of free tools and technical assistance from the League to become even more bicycle-friendly.

Zero Waste Competitions
From August 20th to September 30th, on-campus students competed in several waste competitions. Students in St. Joe and Regina battled for the traveling sustainability trophy in the "Tip the Scale: A Waste Diversion Competition." The competition is cumulative and the building with the highest total diversion rate at the end of the competition won. Regina Hall won with a overall diversion rate of 43%, and St. Joe came in second place with a total rate of 35.5%.
During the same time period, Resident Assistants in all residential areas competed for a hammock in the Zero Waste Education Competition. RA's were challenged to create a zero waste educational campaign piece for residents that might include a bulletin board, an event, or posters. Rachel Rich was awarded the hammock for her educational bulletin board about sorting waste.

Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building awarded LEED Silver Certification 
Aquinas College’s new Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building has recently been awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The USGBC uses LEED certification to designate the world’s greenest, energy-efficient and high-performing buildings.
The 70,000-square-foot athletic space was designed and constructed in collaboration by Integrated Architecture and Rockford Construction. Construction began in November 2013 and was completed in October 2014. >Read More

Aquinas ranks high on the Princeton Review list >Read the GRBJ article
The Princeton Review released its sixth-annual “Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition” this month, recognizing Aquinas College among the top colleges with exceptional commitments to sustainability. The educational opportunities and sustainability initiatives at over 2,000 colleges were reviewed and 353 college and universities made the cut. Noteworthy Aquinas programs that contributed to our ranking include the zero waste initiative, local food purchasing, LEED buildings, and others. >View the Guide

Give Your Opinion of the Community Garden
Consider taking this garden survey to have a stake in this fruitful part of campus. Click here to take the survey. You must have an ELM password to take the survey. 

Make Your Own Terracycle Box
Want to help AQ reach zero waste by 2016? Start by making a personal Terracycle collection box! Download and print out the label, and start collecting everyday waste such as snack bags and candy wrappers. When your box is full, simply empty it at your nearest Terracycle station!  

Zero Waste Success at Homecoming
The zero waste team was busy at Homecoming 2015 (September 26) to help alums properly sort waste during campus activities. Because of their hard work, we achieved a 94% diversion rate (by weight). Congrats AQ and a big thank you to all volunteers!

Greener Grads: Donate Your Gown
Join Greener Grads in our goal to recover, repurpose, and reuse one million graduation gowns this year. Together we can reduce the mass production and breathe new life into old gowns. Donate your gown after graduation and we will make sure it gets a new life, stays out of the landfill, and keeps our planet healthy and green. It may seem like a small contribution to you, but every gown counts. A collection bin will be in place at Aquinas’ graduation ceremony, but you can also drop off your gown anytime to the Center for Sustainability (AB 255). Learn more here

AQ Community Garden
The AQ Community Garden is located between the AMC and Holmdene. It consists of several 4x8 ft raised beds managed in square foot gardening style. A Square Foot Garden does not use any fertilizer or have any weeds because one type of plant is grown within a square foot, and the soil mixture used does not contain weed seed. Also the raised beds allow people who have difficulties tending a regular garden, an opportunity to garden easier. 

Gardens are a great use of land area. They filter rainwater, restore oxygen to the air, and provide a place to put your compost. Community gardens provide an opportunity to meet new people and build relationships in a relaxed environment, because gardening is a form of stress relief! 

We are looking for committed garden volunteers, who are able to spend one day a week (Monday – Friday) to help water and weed the garden throughout the summer. Ideally, we will have two volunteers scheduled for each week day (i.e. 2 every Monday, 2 every Tuesday, etc…). You can complete your garden work anytime during the day, and it should not take more than 30 minutes to an hour. If you have any interest in being a “serious” garden volunteer and committing to at least 30 minutes each week, please send a confirmation email to Jessica Eimer at eimerjes@aquinas.edu indicating: How many hours per week you plan to volunteer, as well as possible days and times of the week that you are able to work in the garden.

Important Volunteer Notes: 1. Volunteers must gain approval from their supervisors, if they are volunteering during their shifts. 2. Staff/Faculty members can work on the garden during normal business hours, but they cannot be officially on college time. Hourly employees must punch out, and all employees are still expected to complete their weekly hours. 

TerraCycle Collections Extend to Vending Machine Locations
TerraCycle bins are now available next to vending machines on campus! TerraCycle is a collection system that is different from recycling. Items that go to TerraCycle become upcycled into products for sale again, rather than going into a landfill. The products made range from notebooks to purses to backpacks.
 
The Feast of St. Francis and the Catholic Climate Covenant
On October 4 the Center for Sustainability and Campus Ministry hosted the Feast of St. Francis event. This was a prayer service and gathering outside Wege, celebrating Aquinas College’s signing of the Catholic Climate Covenant. Aquinas’ Catholic Dominican tradition is rooted in being good stewards of God’s gifts and caring for the poor (who are typically subject to disproportionate amounts of negative effects of climate change because of greater exposure and vulnerability). The signatories of this pledge commit to five things: prayer, learning about climate change, assessing how to decrease their carbon footprint and contribution to climate change, acting to change behaviors, and advocating for climate change discussions and decisions. Aquinas College has joined with twenty-seven national Catholic organizations, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Portland, and many others who have signed this pledge. >Read More
 
Special Collection Systems in Residence Halls, Apartments, and Jarecki
What do a toothbrush, mascara tube, Styrofoam cup, chip bag, and tennis shoes all have in common? You can recycle them! Be sure to check out our new special collection systems in all residence hall trash rooms, apartment lobbies, and Jarecki Lobby. You will find battery, ink cartridge, Styrofoam, electronic waste, TerraCycle and Goodwill collection bins in all of these areas. Special collection systems will be added to common areas in academic buildings in November!
 
Ride the Rapid for only $0.25
With an Aquinas ID, students and employees can now ride the rapid bus system for only $0.25 per ride. Using public transportation is a great way to save gas money, green your transportation habits, meet new people, and decrease your carbon footprint. For more information on riding the bus and information on other new programs like the AQ bike share program, check out the "re-think" transportation page.
 
New Carpool Spaces in Wege Lot
Campus Safety is excited to announce the availability of two “carpool” spaces in the Wege Lot to the campus community beginning this semester! To utilize a carpool space a vehicle must have a valid Aquinas parking permit and a minimum of three occupants commuting to campus together. All occupants must check in at the Campus Safety office together to receive the permit. This spot is open to qualifying students, staff and faculty who commute to campus. Please note that a carpool permit is valid only for the duration the vehicle occupies the space; moving the vehicle from the designated carpool space invalidates the permit. If no carpool spaces are available, vehicles eligible for or displaying a carpool permit must abide by normal lot restrictions. Permits will be issued on a daily basis as spaces are available.
 
RecycleMania 2013 Results
For the 5th consecutive year, Aquinas competed in RecycleMania 2013. RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over an 8 week period (February 3 to March 31), Aquinas reported recycling, composting, and trash weights, to be ranked against over 600 participating colleges and universities in the U.S. Our Michigan peers in RecycleMania include: Albion, CMU, GVSU, Kalamazoo (1st in the state 2012), Kendall, MSU, U of M, and Washtenaw CC.
RecycleMania 2013 results are in! Nationally, Aquinas was ranked as follows:

  • Grand Champion Category: 49th (44.18% recycling rate)
  • Per Capita Classic: 70th (14.8 pounds of recycling per person)
  • Waste Minimization: 88th (33.5 pounds of trash/recycling generated per person)
  • Food Service Organics: 17th (10.4 pounds of compost generated per person)

 
“The Biggest Loser: Waste-Loss Challenge”
Throughout the entire month of February, “The Biggest Loser: Waste-Loss Challenge” will be held in St. Joe. Each floor will be competing to recycle and compost the most waste (computed in pounds per person). Weekly “weigh-ins” will be held during the St. Joe Staff Meetings on Thursday evenings at 10:00pm, and the first will be held February 7. The purpose of the competition is to increase awareness of and participation in the Zero Waste Initiative, by providing an incentive for residents to recycle and compost more of their waste.
 
New Paper Towel Composting Program
Did you know that the paper towels we use to dry our hands are compostable? We need your help to keep paper towel waste out of landfills and the local incinerator. All large cans in campus bathroom are now designated as paper towel only, and a small trashcan provided for non-compostable materials. (If your bathroom is not yet equipped with both containers, it will be this week!) This small step will make a big difference in helping us achieve our zero waste goal by 2014.
Paper towels and other compostable waste will eventually become nutritious plant food instead of being trapped in a landfill for generations or incinerated, which releases harmful emissions into our air. Our composting, including paper towel waste, is sent to a windrow composting facility in Zeeland owned by SPURT. Please join me in thanking the Housekeeping Department for their assistance in this transition. Housekeeping staff is helping to collect and keep the paper towels separate from other trash. We could not make such strides in our zero waste goals without their help, so please give your housekeeper a big thank you! What’s the best part of this new program? It’s so easy! Remember, all food waste and food-soiled paper can be composted, and help us to “TRASH the trash can.” If you have any questions, please contact Jessica Eimer (x1994). Thanks for your cooperation.
 
Sierra Club Recognizes AQ Sustainability Leadership, Yet Again!
Aquinas ranked 41 on the 2012 Sierra Club "Cool Schools" list. Just making the list is a big achievement, but improving our rank from last year's 94th is really something! Nice job Aquinas.
 
Aquinas will Plant Community Salsa Garden this Summer
The AQ community salsa garden (located on the west side of Fulton House) needs volunteers for planting day and for summer-long maintenance.
You can help with the planting day on May 10 at 10 a.m. and/or you can sign up to be a volunteer this summer by committing to work in the garden one day per week (Monday through Friday) for at least thirty minutes. If interested in becoming a summer volunteer, please email the following information to Kaitlyn Aholt, kea001@aquinas.edu: what days and times you can volunteer and how many hours per week you can work.
Important volunteer notes:

  1. Volunteers must gain approval from their supervisors if they are volunteering during their shifts.
  2. Staff/Faculty members can volunteer in the garden during normal business hours, but they cannot be officially on "college time". Hourly employees must punch out, and all employees are still expected to complete their weekly hours.

Questions? Contact Kaitlyn Aholt at kea001@aquinas.edu or Jessica Eimer at eimerjes@aquinas.edu, 616-632-1994.
 
Recyclemania 2012: Final Results
Official rankings out of 605 colleges:

  • Grand champion-162 (campus recycling rate of 25%)
  • Per Capita Classic-241 (6.76 pounds of recycling per person)
  • Waste minimization-53 (27 pounds of waste generated on campus per person during competition, trash and recycling combined)
  • Food Service Organics-28 (9.11 pounds of organic waste was composted per person on campus during competition)

Because we expanded our composting program this year, a large portion of compostable materials that were originally recycled were no longer part of our recycling data, causing us to rank poorly compared to previous years in every category except "waste minimization" and "food service organics". Overall, we have reduced our solid waste to landfill by 14%, while increasing our composting 700%! This is a great step in the direction of reaching our goal of zero waste to landfill by 2020. Keep up the good work Aquinas!
 
Growth in E-Waste Recycling
In 2011, the total amount of electronic waste (e-waste) recycled by Aquinas College grew from 7,050 pounds to 11,437 pounds. Nearly 20 tons of e-waste have been recycled since Comprenew Environmental began providing electronics recycling to AQ free of charge in 2006. A big thank you to Chad Buczkowski for providing the drop-off location in the Media Center, and to all staff, students, and faculty for disposing of your e-waste responsibly.
 
Campus Composting Program Expansion
We are also pleased to announce that the composting program is being expanded across campus to accompany all 60 centralized recycling locations. The green bins previously used for recycling have a new solid lid and are designated for composting! All compostable items can be placed in the green bin, including food soiled paper like pizza boxes, used napkins, dirty paper plates, and paper coffee cups. ALL food waste can be composted, including meat, bones, and dairy products. Bio-Based plastic labeled as "compostable" can also be composted.
Also, Aquinas has simplified its recycling program this year by designating only one bin for single stream recycling. All recyclable items can now be placed together in the blue bin. (Paper does NOT have to be separated from plastic, glass, and tin.) Green and blue bins can be found in every building on campus. Posters located above each bin contain information on the composting and recycling programs.
 
Speaker at Sustainability Event Urges Ecological Accountability
On October 5th, Dr. Andy Hoffman "urges ecological accountability" at the Leaps of Faith conference hosted by Aquinas College. An annual event of Michigan Interfaith Power and Light, the Center for Sustainability co-sponsored this year's event that featured Dr. Andy Hoffman as a keynote speaker alongside numerous breakout sessions.
 
Ink Cartridge Recycling on Campus
The Center for Sustainability has expanded the campus ink cartridge recycling program with the help of TMH Corporation. TMH will recycle and repurpose Aquinas’ ink cartridges and in some cases, even pay the college for certain cartridges. In place of the large collection boxes in Regina and St. Joe’s, you will now find small, cardboard collection boxes next to the recycling bins in Regina, St. Joes, Dominican, and the apartments. For more information or questions, please contact Jessica Eimer (632-1994, eimerjes@aquinas.edu).
 
Aquinas Made The List
Aquinas College made the Sierra Club's Coolest Schools list concerning Sustainability (#94). The only other Michigan schools on the list are University of Michigan and Kalamazoo College.
 
New Bicycle Lot by Dominican Hall
A collection of inverted-u bicycle racks were installed this summer on the east side of Dominican Hall, to accommodate overflow bike parking. Numerous bikes have been seen attached to trees and poles around Apartment D, rather than in the racks provided. Not only is this an eye-sore, the bikes are getting in the way of the grounds crew. The new bicycle lot is intended to provide sufficient parking for Dominican Hall, Apartment D, and the nearby Woodward Ave. houses. If the bike racks outside your dorm are full, please use the Dominican Hall Bicycle Lot. Thanks for the cooperation.
 
Community Garden on Campus
Aquinas College now has a revitalized and relocated community garden on campus. The 30’ x 30’ community garden is located near Fulton House. The garden was recently planted with a variety of fruit, vegetable, herb, and flower seeds. No synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides will be used on the garden. Aquinas volunteers will be caring for the garden in the coming months. Be on the lookout for updates about the garden’s progress throughout the summer. Click here to view pictures of the garden and the transformation it has undergone on the Center for Sustainability’s Facebook page. 
 
Electronic Waste Recycling
In anticipation of students moving out and cleaning their dorm rooms, electronic waste recycling will be available in the lobbies of St. Joes and Regina, near the main entrances. All unwanted and broken electronic items are accepted, including cell phones, alarm clocks, radios, and computer parts. All items with a battery or a cord can be dropped off in the designated boxes through Friday, May 6th. Aquinas faculty and staff can also bring electronic waste to Chad Buczkowski in the Media Center anytime throughout the year. Collected electronics will be donated to Comprenew Environmental, a non-profit e-waste recycler who reprocesses all e-waste collected for resale or disassembles into component parts for reuse by suppliers. For more information or questions, please contact Jessica Eimer (632-1994 or Jessica.Eimer@aquinas.edu).
 
New Campus Excessive Idling Policy
The excessive idling policy successfully traversed the sustainability initiative process in the spring, and received the final approval from Provost Gunnoe on April 28th, 2011. (The proposal received a 5- on a 1 to 5 scale- in the Joint Sustainability Committee on March 2 and passed the Student Senate on April 20th.) By limiting the amount of time vehicles are permitted to idle, 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).
 
Aquinas Featured in the Princeton Review's Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition Aquinas Featured in the Princeton Review's Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition
We are pleased to report that Aquinas College was selected for inclusion in the second annual edition of “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition." This one-of-a-kind resource -- published in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) - is the only free, comprehensive guide that focuses solely on colleges that have demonstrated a notable commitment to sustainability. Check it out!
 
Single Stream Recycling on Campus
Aquinas College has decided to change its recycling system to a single stream collection system. This means that paper, plastic, glass, and tin no longer have to be separated, and all recyclables can be placed in the same bin. The large green and blue recycling bins will remain in common areas, but clean recyclables can be placed in either bin. The small recycling can in each office can now be used as a single stream container as well. Therefore, you can now place plastic, glass, and tin recyclables in your office recycling container, in addition to recyclable paper! The types of items that are able to be recycled have remained the same; the process of recycling has just become easier. If you are unsure if an item is recyclable or not check the signs that are located on all recycling bins on campus. Remember: You no longer need to separate paper from plastic, glass and tin anywhere on campus! Please continue to empty and rinse out your recyclables before placing in the collection container. Please contact Jessica Eimer (Jessica.Eimer@aquinas.edu) with any questions concerning the new single stream recycling system.
 
Final RecycleMania Standings:

  • Grand Champion Competition- 36th: Aquinas College has a recycling rate of 46.56%
  • Per Capita Classic- 66th: Aquinas College averaged 19.98 pounds of recyclables per person during the 8 week competition
  • Waste Minimization- 94th: Aquinas College produced 42.91 pounds of waste per person on average during the 8 week competition
  • Food Service Organics Competition- 31st: On average 8.04 of food waste were composted per person during the 8 week competition.

 
Unplug Over Break
Electronic devices consume electricity even when they are not being used. This draw of electricity is often referred to as vampire power, because energy is “sucked” out even when the device is not turned on. Vampire power is completely preventable by unplugging electronic devices when they are not being used. The Center for Sustainability and Residence Life are encouraging all students, faculty, and staff to unplug all electronic devices before leaving for spring break. If everyone unplugs their electronics electricity can be saved, and carbon dioxide emissions can be avoided.
 
Monthly Sustainability Newsletter
The Center for Sustainability will now be releasing a monthly electronic newsletter to keep all sustainability groups on campus informed about upcoming events and ongoing projects at AQ. The purpose of this newsletter is to promote collaboration and information sharing between all individuals involved in sustainability efforts on campus. In addition to updates on current projects of the Center for Sustainability, the newsletter will include a monthly sustainable business student feature and updates from the Students Striving for Sustainability (S3) club. We are encouraging a variety of perspectives on sustainability through the periodic inclusion of articles submitted by campus community members. All students, staff, and faculty are welcome to submit news and ideas to be posted in the newsletter.
 
Vending Machine Miser
The Center for Sustainability has partnered with Residence Life to obtain permission to install vending machine misers on vending machines around campus. Vending machine misers are a device that can be installed to vending machines to reduce power consumption. The misers have a sensor that attaches to the vending machine; when no one walks in front of the machine for a given period of time, the machine powers down and turns off its internal lights. Vending machines misers can also regulate the temperature of the vending machine, shutting off the compressor when the internal temperature is cool enough, and repowering when necessary to maintain a cool temperature for products. These energy saving features help vending machines to operate at a more efficient level, saving money on electricity bills and carbon emissions. Pepsi Co. has agreed to donate one vending machine miser to Aquinas College for trial purposes.
 
Energy News: New Digital Kiosks
As you may have noticed, digital media signage and new computers serving as information kiosks have been installed in public areas around campus. These devices are equipped with auto power-down features to save energy when they are not in use. There is an auto shutdown in place on the digital media signage ensuring that they are shut down for overnight hours. For all of these features to function properly, it is important that the devices not be manually shut down, as that overrides the settings that have been put in place.
 
Rapid Van Subsidy Now Available to Aquinas Students and Employees
Aquinas College now subsidizes the use of Rapid Van Pools by staff, faculty, and students travelling to school or work! The van pool system is perfect for people with long commutes who are interested in "sharing the ride." The Rapid provides vans to vanpooling groups on a month to month basis, for a small fee. Approximately 20 Rapid vans travel from Lansing, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, and other communities within 60 miles of Grand Rapids. Individuals meet at a Park and Ride lot, and share driving responsibilities on the van. The monthly fee (without the subsidy) is approximately $83-$100, depending on the number of van riders. This covers all costs to ride the van - a very desirable situation for commuters.
Aquinas' subsidy covers $22 of the monthly van cost. For more information on the Rapid Van Pool Program, click here to visit the Rapid website.
Click to learn more about Aquinas College's Rapid Van Subsidy Program.
 
Carbon Footprint report completed and submitted to the ACUPCC
Aquinas successfully completed the 2007/08 carbon footprint report and submitted the results to the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. Within one year of signing the commitment, all signatories must complete a comprehensive inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions and update the inventory every other year thereafter. Aquinas' full carbon footprint report can be viewed at the ACUPCC website.
 
Aquinas Chemistry Society Receives National Recognition
The Aquinas Chemistry Society, a student chapter of the American Chemical Society, has received a Commendable Chapter Award for its 2008-2009 activities. This marks the fifth consecutive year that the chapter has been recognized. The 2008-2009 award-winning chapters will be profiled in the November/December issue of "in Chemistry" magazine and at the ACS Student Affiliates Chapter Award Ceremony that will be held at the 239th ACS National Meeting in San Francisco in March 2010.
The Aquinas Chemistry Society also received a Green Chemistry award for its 08-09 activities. Selection for this award is by the American Chemical Society Committee on Education and the Green Chemistry Institute. Our chapter was one of only 55 chapters to receive the Green award this year. Congratulations to the officers and members of ACS!
 
Aquinas Steps Up as First College in West Michigan to Sponsor Entire Habitat for Humanity Home
Aquinas College has become the first college in West Michigan to underwrite and complete a LEED for Homes Certified "Total Gut Rehab" home. This project highlights our commitment to sustainability and community service and we are thrilled to involve our entire community. Click here for the press release.
 
Aquinas College featured on the NCRLC Website
Some of Aquinas College's sustainability efforts are featured on the National Catholic Rural Life Conference's (NCRLC) web site. The NCRLC applies the teachings of Jesus Christ for the betterment of rural America and care of God's creation.
 
Additional Bicycle Racks Available on Campus
During the summer of 2009, the Sustainable Business Academic Department and Residence Life Office purchased 19 additional inverted U-Racks for bicycle storage on campus. Existing bike rack sites (Academic Building, Wege Courtyard, Grace Hauenstein Library, Regina Hall, and St. Joe's) received supplementary U-Racks to facilitate the increasing demand for bike storage at these locations. To prevent students from chaining bikes to the railing and blocking the handicap entrance, 5 U-Racks were also installed near the northwest entrance of Albertus Hall. Furthermore, Regina Hall and RVD received a handful of wall mount racks for additional bicycle storage. A big thanks to the Physical Plant and Grounds Departments for their help with installation!
 
Dr. Balog Joins Leadership in ACUPCC
Aquinas College emphasized its commitment to sustainability and combating climate change this past summer by joining the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). And now, the selection of Dr. Ed Balog to the 2009-2010 ACUPCC Steering Committee, comprised of the heads of 22 member institutions, further highlights sustainability goals of both the president and Aquinas College.
 
"Green College Spotlight: Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan" by EarthFirst.com
Click here to read the EarthFirst article, featuring Aquinas College's Sustainable Business Program and the Center for Sustainability.
 
"Being recognized for going green isn't enough for Grand Rapids environmental leaders" 
by the Grand Rapids Press
With a flashy new "green" art museum and dozens of LEED-certified building projects, the Grand Rapids area is gaining a national reputation for being environmentally aware. FastCompany, a national business magazine, just named Grand Rapids "America's Greenest City," saying the region has more green buildings per capita than any other U.S. city. But being green is not enough, according to business leaders and educators - we need sustainability.
 
Small Quantities of Business Cards Can Now be Ordered
Business cards can now be ordered in smaller quantities at a substantially reduced cost! Aquinas Personnel only had the options of purchasing 250 or 500 business cards. This resulted in a large amount of wasted paper and the reluctance of infrequent card users to purchase the product. Now Aquinas staff and faculty can purchase as few as 25 cards, if needed. The cards will be on the same paper with the same two-color design Aquinas has been using. Since we are able to offer smaller numbers now, hopefully, individuals will no longer create their own.  It is important that all cards are uniform and professional in their appearance.
 
Announcing the WMSPC Logo Design Competition!
The West Michigan Sustainable Purchasing Consortium (WMSPC) has just announced a logo design competition for students in West Michigan. For purposes of this competition, West Michigan is defined as Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo and Ottawa counties. WMSPC will only accept e-mail submissions. Students must send their entry form, copy of their student ID card and all logo design entries in one e-mail to tparker@delta-institute.org by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 27, 2009. Please note that the entry form is an interactive pdf file. Students should enter his/her information, save, and attach it to their email submission along with their logo designs.
 
Library LEED Silver Certified
As Aquinas College continues to lead in green initiatives, the Grace Hauenstein Library achieved a major milestone this semester in obtaining LEED Silver certification from the US Green Building Council. The library earned 35 points through green features implemented throughout the project. Some of the major innovations include:
 

  • Over 82% of building materials were diverted from local landfills and to recycling centers
  • Nearly all (93%) of the building’s regularly occupied spaces feature exterior views
  • Water use is 32% less than a standard facility of similar size
  • All adhesives, sealants, paints, carpet, padding, and particleboard used in the Grace Hauenstein Library are low VOC
  • A majority (58%) of the building materials were shipped from facilities within 500 miles

 
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is currently the nation’s green building standard. Grand Rapids is home to the most LEED certified buildings per capita in the US. The Grace Hauenstein Library is the first of many green buildings planned for Aquinas’ campus, including the second floor of the Academic Building, the new apartments, and the fieldhouse project.
 
Tray-Less Tuesday's
In an effort to reduce the College’s environmental footprint, the food service is testing “TRAY-LESS TUESDAY’S," beginning on September 23rd, 2008. Tray-Less Dining decreases waste, conserves natural resources (namely energy and water) and reduces the introduction of polluting detergents, rinses and drying agents into the water table.  Economically it reduces the cost of these same inputs (energy, water, cleaning agents) as well as the fees associated with waste removal. Socially, tray-less dining can provide education and awareness about environmental issues, while also potentially reinforcing a healthy lifestyle.  Collectively, it is a true triple bottom line initiative, further supporting campus sustainability.
 
Environmental Benefits:  
Conserves energy by eliminating the need to heat water for tray washing
Reduces dependence on fossil fuels
Saves one-third to one-half gallon of water per day
Reduces chemicals, detergents, and drying agents used to wash trays
Decreases discharge into landfills and wastewater treatment facilities
Lessens the ecological footprint
 
Social Benefits:
Supports education and awareness of environmental issues
Reinforces the College sustainability initiatives
Encourages students to participate in a “Green” initiative that has both a personal and community impact
Reinforces sustainability awareness on a daily basis
 
Economic Benefits:
Saves on cost of water and energy
Saves on cost of detergents and rinse/drying agents
Eliminates cost of trays
Reduces food-waste removal costs
 
The Corner Cafe is going GREEN!

Category: Local Innovation
Implementation Status: Fully implemented
Purchase a 20 ounce GO GREEN, Re-Usable, Biodegradable water bottle for $10 in the Corner Cafe. Fill it with Purified Water for $0.50 each time!
 
Aquinas Signs the Presidents Climate Commitment
Category: Local Innovation
Implementation Status: Aquinas is still within the first year of signing the Commitment. We have already met the first requirement with the standing staff, student, and faculty sustainability committees. The comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory is largely completed, although it needs to be slightly refined to meet the requirements of the Commitment. We also need to update the reported figures.
President Balog formally signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in June 2008. In doing so, Aquinas has committed to creating a strategy to greatly reduce our carbon footprint. The specific responsibilities of the Commitment include:

  1. Within two months of signing this document, create institutional structures to guide the development and implementation of the plan.
  2. Within one year, complete a comprehensive inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions (including emissions from electricity, heating, commuting, and air travel) and update the inventory every other year thereafter.
  3. Within two years of signing this document, develop an institutional action plan for becoming "climate neutral."

Through the active engagement of the Center for Sustainability, the sustainability committees, and all campus community members, Aquinas will undoubtedly meet the requirements of the Presidents Climate Commitment and advance our institution’s sustainability goals. To read the Commitment in its entirety, please visit: http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org/.
 
Regina Hall Student Rooms Lighting Retrofit
Category: Local Innovation
Implementation Status: Fully implemented
Through the leadership of the Residence Life Office, the student rooms in Regina Hall have been fully retrofitted with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL's). Not only do CFL's use up to 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, but they typically last five to ten times longer. Furthermore, Aquinas only purchases Philips Alto bulbs, the bulb with the lowest mercury level available on the market today. By retrofitting Regina's student rooms, Aquinas will save money on electricity costs and benefit the environment.