Sustainability Initiative at Aquinas College

Progress: Energy Conservation

Carbon Neutrality Plan

Aquinas College has a long history of addressing our contribution to global climate change, begininng in September 2008. Since 2008, Aquinas College has completed a baseline greenhouse gas report, a Climate Action Plan (an institutional action plan for Aquinas to reach climate neutrality by 2040), several progress reports and updates to the campus carbon footprint. The Center for Sustainability is working diligently to meet our mid-range goals laid out in the Climate Action Plan.

  • Carbon Footprint: A carbon footprint analysis measures the amount of carbon emitted due to the operation of an organization, whether it be through heating and cooling, lighting, transportation, and so on. Taking the time to prepare and execute a carbon footprint analysis is not an easy process, but Aquinas is loyal to our continued commitment to sustainability. The information in the report will guide our development of a strategy to seriously address AQ’s impact on global climate change, as well as measure our progress from year to year.
  •  Climate Action Plan (CAP): A CAP is an institutional action plan for Aquinas to become "climate neutral" by 2040. Our 30-year Climate Action Plan focuses on six key areas of continual improvement: Built Environment, Land Use, Solid Waste Management, and Transportation, The Human Factor and Leading and Learning. A diverse portfolio of strategies – including operational, technical, educational, behavioral, and financial approaches—comprise our approach for each of the six key areas identified above. All of these approaches will require resolve, partnership, and persistence throughout the planning period. Energy conservation will be the first strategy used to decrease Aquinas' carbon footprint, followed by generating renewable energy on-campus, purchasing green power, and purchasing offsets as a last resort. >View AQ's CAP

On-site Renewable Energy
The Jarecki Center for Advanced Learning at Aquinas College employs a unique 12 kW capacity photovoltaic array. The UNISOLAR ® photovoltaic system, manufactured by United Solar Ovonic, was designed to seamlessly integrate into the building’s architecture by complementing a durable metal roofing substrate, as shown in the photograph above. Annually, the building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) system produces approximately 14,400 kWh per year and is estimated to provide approximately 4% of the total annual electrical consumption of the building. This output avoids nearly 12 tons of carbon dioxide, 122 lbs. of sulfur dioxide, and 63 lbs. of nitrogen oxide if the power were to be produced by the combustion of fossil fuels. The solar array was a cutting edge for it's time, installed in 1999! >View the information sheet (PDF)
 
Lighting Retrofits on Campus
Lighting technology changes rapidly and the Aquinas College Physical Plant Department works hard to stay current with these advancements. Here are a few notable changes to lighting on campus:

  • 2016-Current: Some buildings are switching from T-8 fluorescent to T-8 LED, such as the library, athletic facility, and the science building.
  • 2013- Current: The college has been working to replace CFL exterior lights with LED technology. One example is the spring 2019 upgrade near a campus residence hall. The light posts on the walking path to St. Joseph's Hall were replaced with new LED lights. The lights are always on at 25% power, and turn to 100% when the people are present. When the lights are at 25%, it is as bright as the old lights at full capacity.
  • 2015-2016: The college began to replace our T-12 interior lighting systems with more efficient and low mercury T-8 lamps.
  • 2012: In light of the detrimental effects of mercury on the environment, Physical Plant committed to the Phillips ALTO bulbs campus-wide. The ALTO bulb has the least amount of mercury compared to other fluorescent products and the lowest price.
  • 2008-2012: Another success story from our Physical Plant Department is in the selection of LED exit signs as a replacement for 157 existing exit signs and future signage. Exit signs must be lit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This can compounded quickly in terms of energy costs when you consider the number of signs used on a typical college campus.
  • 2008-2012: Aquinas College purchased and installed 245 large Compact Fluorescent lamps to replace the High Pressure Sodium lamps in outdoor fixtures.