American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment
In 2007, Saint John's University became a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). As part of our commitment to ACUPCC, we've created a climate action plan that lays out the path to carbon neutrality. By conserving energy, educating our campus community, investing in efficiency and conservation, changing our energy sources, and investing in alternative energy and carbon offsets, we will meet our goal by 2035.
Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund
Saint John's has set aside $100,000 for zero-interest loans to projects with cost savings (Revolving Loan Fund). The cost savings will pay back the loan until 120% of the loan is paid off. As the fund grows, more and larger projects can be initiated. A committee of faculty, staff, administration, and students govern the fund.
During March 2014, the SJU Office of Sustainability organized a weeklong event dedicated to educating our campus community and encouraging environmentally-friendly behaviors. The main event of sustainability week was a campus-wide energy challenge to see which residence hall could reduce their energy consumption the most. Our office also coordinated with clubs of all sorts to set up events that made students think about their energy consumption and showed them ways to reduce it. We capped the week off with a celebratory 'Sustainability Happy Hour' in Brother Willie's Pub which featured trivia about SJU's sustainability initiatives and other environmental topics.
Tracking and Monitoring
Tracking and monitoring behaviors, resource usage, and system outputs are critical aspects in helping make Saint John's a more sustainable campus. Since 2008, we've been calculating our carbon footprint, which includes transportation, purchased electricity, on campus heating and cooling, fugitive emissions, solid waste and air travel emissions. We've made a large amount of progress since we started tracking. We also measure our sustainability progress every three years by participating in AASHE's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). This publicly produced metric includes categories such as Education & Research; Operations; and Planning, Administration & Engagement. In 2015, we are proud to have earned a silver rating.
First-Year Energy Challenge
The first-year energy challenge is an annual event held during fall semester. The competition is between the two first-year residence halls at Saint John's (St. Mary and St. Thomas Halls) to see which of the buildings can conserve the most energy during the course of the challenge. As an incentive, prizes are awarded to the winning building... not to mention the bragging rights! During the competition, students are given tips on how to live more sustainably and how to reduce their electricity consumption. The results from the 2014 event can be viewed here.
Campus Conservation Nationals
Campus Conservation Nationals is a three week long conservation competition. All on-campus residential buildings compete to achieve the greatest percentage reduction in energy use by the end of the challenge. The annual competition takes place during spring semester. Both Saint John's and Saint Benedict participated in the event during February 2015.
At the end of every school year, we work with Catholic Charities Emergency Relief Services and the Benedictine Volunteer Corps to assist us with students moving out and our "Goodwill, not Landfill" program. The SJU Office of Sustainability places boxes in every residence hall for students to place their still-usable goods. The Benedictine Volunteers Corps members help collecting the donated items. Catholic Charities comes to pick up the items and delivers them to people who need them most. In 2013, we sent 31,220 pounds of clothing, school supplies, and food to people who need them.