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Villanova Continues Staunch Commitment to Environmental Sustainability

On June 18, Pope Francis released his encyclical on the environment – marking his second encyclical, and the first encyclical ever devoted entirely to the environment. This call to action emphasized the importance of committing ourselves as a society, by our policies and actions, to lessoning the impact of climate change. At Villanova, the commitment to environmental sustainability is integrated into all areas of campus, including institutional policy and practice, academic programs and curricula, scholarly research and service to the community.

In 2007, Villanova President Rev. Peter Donohue signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. In response to the signing of the Presidents Climate Commitment, Father Donohue established the President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee. This committee – comprised of faculty, staff, and students from across campus – is charged with taking action on all aspects of campus sustainability and implementing the President’s Climate Commitment on behalf of the University.

Here is a look at some of Villanova’s efforts toward environmental sustainability:

Greening the Curriculum:

On June 11, Villanova announced the launch of a new master’s degree program in Environmental Science. This adds yet another academic program with an emphasis on the environment and sustainability. In 2010, Villanova became one of the first schools in the country to launch a master’s degree in Sustainable Engineering program. Other programs and coursework at Villanova related to sustainability include: first-year environmental learning community; minor in sustainable studies; bachelor’s degrees in environmental science, environmental studies, and environmental biology/ecology; master’s degree in water resources and environmental engineering, etc.

A LEED-er in Green Building:

Villanova has five LEED certified buildings on campus and has committed to LEED certification for all new construction and major renovation projects on campus. LEED certified buildings save money and resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants, while promoting renewable, clean energy. For more on sustainability in campus policies, click here.

Pledging its Commitment:

In April 2014, Father Peter signed the St. Francis Pledge, committing the University to protect God's Creation and advocate on behalf of people in poverty who face the hardest impacts of global climate change.

Advancing Sustainability through Research:

Among the academic research centers at the University are the Villanova Center for the Advancement of Sustainability in Engineering (VCASE) and the Villanova Center for Energy and Environmental Education. According to a recent STARS report from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), 35 faculty members actively doing research at Villanova are looking at areas related to sustainability. Research areas include: sustainable stormwater management practices; alternative fuel sources; remediation of contaminants and pathogens in drinking water; public health impact of fracking; impact of land use change, etc. Click here for additional research.

Other Highlights of Villanova’s Sustainability Commitment include:

  • Villanova recycles and composts up to 41% of its waste
  • All trash goes to Covanta, an energy-from-waste facility that burns the trash for electricity
  • Dining Services provides pre-consumer composting in several dining locations on campus
  • Villanova hosted a Zero Waste Men’s Basketball Game this season – that aimed to divert 90% or more of the game day waste from the trash, via recycling or composting.
  • All construction waste is sent to Revolution Recovery, with trash sorting they are able to divert 75% of the waste from landfills (Link)
  • Villanova has installed 17 hydration stations on campus to make it easier to fill up reusable water bottles. As of January, the University has saved more than 277,000 bottles
  • Villanova participates in the Zipcar program and has developed the Nova Bike Share program in partnership with Devereux.
  • Villanova incorporates its commitment to the environment into its community service initiatives. In fact, the University was named the Green Apple Day of Service Champions by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) last fall. Numerous academic service trips across the University’s schools and colleges are focused on sustainability, including Water for Waslala.
  • Villanova has been recognized among the most sustainable universities in the nation.

For more on Villanova’s sustainability efforts visit