In 2007, Father Donohue signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, vowing that Villanova would achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. To achieve this, Villanova will invest in improving campus infrastructure efficiency, as well as purchase carbon offsets and renewable energy for the energy required to run campus operations.
In response to the signing of the Presidents Climate Commitment, Father Donohue established the President’s Climate Commitment Committee. In 2009, that committee was merged into the President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee (PESC) and charged with responding to all aspects of campus sustainability, not just energy. The committee was comprised of faculty, staff, and students from across campus who shared a passion for environmental issues and a desire to strengthen Villanova’s commitment to sustainability. The mission of PESC was to help coordinate, support, advance, and track sustainable practices and policies on campus and to implement the President’s Climate Commitment on behalf of the University.
In 2018, the Villanova Sustainable Leadership Council (SLC) was developed as a replacement governace body to PESC. Like the previous committee, SLC helps coordinate, support, advance, and track sustainable practices and policies on campus. The current mission of this council is to develop a comprehensive sustainability plan for Villanova University. In an effort to address all elements of sustainability need across campus, the Sustainable Leadership Council created four committees, each dedicated to a different university function. Members of the committees are made up of a mixture of faculty, staff and students from the five colleges.
As part of the Presidents Climate Commitment, Villanova developed a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to help guide the University towards achieving climate neutrality. The plan was completed in early 2010. Click here for a summary or full copy of the CAP.
Every two years, Villanova submits a greenhouse gas report for the previous two years as part of the Presidents Climate Commitment. To view past year’s greenhouse gas reports visit the Second Nature's reporting website.
Villanova’s emissions have decreased over the past 5 years, mainly due to a switch from coal to natural gas as the main source of energy for producing steam and purchasing electricity. During this time, we have increased our campus footprint by adding two new LEED Gold certified buildings that have added to Villanova’s overall energy demand. For more information on campus energy reduction initiatives visit the Buildings and Energy & Climate tabs.
Villanova University achieved a Silver rating under the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) Version 2.0. The Silver rating is a very exciting accomplishment given this certification was the first attempt by Villanova, and the Version 2.0 is the most rigorous certification process to date. STARS is the nationally recognized campus rating system for sustainability initiatives organized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The rating system evaluates various aspects of campuses that range from energy and water conservation to diversity and pay equality. The objectives of completing the STARS rating system and gaining a certification level are to earn recognition of Villanova’s sustainability efforts and to identify a proper baseline for comparing with peer institutions. As a comparison, Bucknell University received a silver rating under STARS Version 2.0. The University of Pennsylvania and the University of Notre Dame received a silver and gold rating, respectively, under STARS Version 1.2. Note, the STARS Version 1.2 contains a different breakdown of available points from Version 2.0 which should be kept in mind when comparing institutions under different rating systems. The chart below illustrates the points available through the STARS program versus the points achieved by Villanova University.
As seen from this chart, Villanova University is very successful in the Planning and Administration, and Engagement categories of STARS. The area for improvement is within the Operations category, which is common for most universities. Villanova University achieved a score of 10.78% in the Operations category. As a comparison, Bucknell University received a score of 12.77% in the Operations category. The average score for the Operations category is 14.05% under Version 2.0. The Operations category includes various subcategories, which identifies areas for improvement and provides a good tool for strategic sustainability planning. STARS requires a renewal of the certification within three years. This provides Villanova University with a tool to track and measure progress and an opportunity to achieve a higher rating. Villanova’s entire STARS report is available online for more information.
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.
I/We pledge to:
PRAY and reflect on the duty to care for God’s Creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.
LEARN about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.
ASSESS how we-as individuals and in our families, parishes and other affiliations-contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.
ACT to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change.
ADVOCATE for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerable.
To learn more about the pledge and/or to sign the pledge individual visit the Catholic Climate Covenant's website.
Villanova University, as a community of learned and learning scholars, respecting the sacredness of all creation, accepts its responsibility to the integrity of Earth and its biodiversity, to the heritage of future generations, and to the security of nations. By utilizing the Augustinian values of Unitas, Veritas, and Caritas, meaning love thy neighbor, promote community unity, and live life in moderation through our curriculum, work environment, and operations, Villanova’s approach to sustainability exemplifies an emphasis on social justice and community service.
For questions regarding campus sustainability email Liesel Schwarz