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Sustainability Leadership Council

Villanova researcher conducting water-related research in Madagascar
Villanovans conduct research for water-related projects in Madagascar as part of a partnership with Catholic Relief Services. Photos: CRS Madagascar/Villanova University

As a Catholic institution, as a University and as human beings, we must come together to take substantive, transformative action to foster the health and prosperity of God’s creation. The responsibility lies with each and every one of us.

In January 2018, University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, established the Villanova Sustainability Leadership Council to develop an actionable and measurable plan to guide the University’s sustainability efforts through 2030. This work is also a part of the University’s new Strategic Plan, serving as a foundational element that underpins the 10-year plan.

Villanova’s Approach to Sustainability

The phrase “sustainability” often holds different meaning to different people. For many, it represents efforts directly related to environmental protection and stewardship. At Villanova, we have adopted an inclusive definition—one encompassing effort to support the planet, its people and ensure prosperity for all.

Planning for our Future

The Villanova Sustainability Leadership Council is a group of engaged faculty, staff and students—led by Bill Lorenz, director of the Sustainable Engineering program, and Rev. Arthur Purcaro, OSA, assistant vice president for Mission & Ministry—who are actively working to develop the University’s plan, meeting regularly to engage in thoughtful dialogue about proposed goals and metrics. 

The Council’s work is modeled on the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which address many of the issues important to our community, including poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, prosperity and peace and justice.

For our plan to be truly transformative, we need the participation, engagement and commitment of all Villanovans. Community members are encouraged to participate in our sustainability-focused initiative as part of the 2019 the St Thomas of Villanova Day of Service.

St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service: Sustainability Footprinting and Climate Action Session

Last Spring, Villanovans rallied around climate action, taking part in the "Fridays for Future" movement led by Greta Thunberg. Let us continue that enthusiasm by serving the planet, and all those who rely on it, during Villanova's Day of Service.

Come learn about your personal climate, water and material impact through footprinting activities. Share strategies with your classmates and fellow Villanovans and learn about what you can do right here on campus and at home to make a difference. Sign up to participate in this session through the St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service registration site.

Sustainability Highlights to Date

Sustainability has been a part of Villanova’s institutional policies and practices and a focus of the University’s long-term planning for many years now. From requiring LEED-certification for new campus buildings and making advances in waste management, to signing the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment in 2007, Villanova has been long dedicated to creating a positive and sustainable future.

Highlights of our work include:

  • Seven LEED Certified Buildings include Driscoll Hall, Law School, Sheehan Hall, Sullivan Hall, Fedigan Hall, Andy Talley Center and Austin Hall. CEER has a 4.2 KW solar array on the roof and a 530 square feet green roof is located above the CEER Holy Grounds Café.
  • Expected LEED Certified buildings include The Commons, the Performing Arts Center and the new CEER expansion.
  • Established construction waste recycling program that resulted in recycling of 85% of construction waste
  • Installed more than 50 hydration stations around campus, saving more than 2 million water bottles.
  • Updated lighting and HVAC systems around campus, dedicating more than $100,000 each year to energy efficiency projects.
  • Introduced numerous programs including:
    • Green Labs: This program was established in 2014 to recognize those who are helping to make their lab area safer for people and the greater environment. To date, 16 labs have been certified through the program.
    • Nova Bike Share: Originally introduced in 2014, this bike share program will relaunch in fall 2019 in partnership with Gotcha bikes, allowing for greater participation among the Villanova community.
    • The Villanova Consortium for Agricultural Research and Education (VCARE): This new, on-campus research garden serves as an educational, cross-curriculum resource, while modeling sustainable urban agriculture and enriching the greater Villanova community.
  • Continues to host numerous sustainability-focused events and guest speakers, including an annual sustainable careers panel featuring Villanova alumni.

Villanova’s Sustainability Milestones and Achievements:

  • Father Peter signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, committing that Villanova will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • In 2014, Father Peter signed the St. Francis Pledge, recommitting Villanova to living out the vision of Pope Francis's encyclical, Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home, and our Catholic faith through prayer, concrete action and advocacy.
  • Achieved AASHE STARS Silver Rating, which measures a college or university’s sustainability performance, in 2015 and in 2018.
  • Recognized as the Main Line Chamber of Commerce Green Business of the Year in 2014.
  • Named the “Green Apple Day of Service Champion” in 2014, recognizing exceptional participation in service projects that incorporate sustainability.
  • Villanova Dining Services was rated as 4th highest performing food service operation among reporting schools by the AASHE in 2015.
  • Signed the BEE Protective Campaign, a national public education effort that supports local actions to protect honey bees and other pollinators from pesticides and contaminated landscapes, in 2016.
  • Received Tree Campus USA recognition for our dedication to preserving green spaces on campus in 2017; received the Green Star award in 2018 for our sustainable grounds management efforts.
  • Introduced related academic programs including the Master of Science in Sustainable Engineering (COE), Master of Science in Environmental Science (CLAS) and a minor in Sustainability Studies (CLAS).
  • Faculty and staff can use pre-tax dollars to pay for public transportation costs.