We don't just talk the talk
Our strong commitment to sustainability is demonstrated through various sustainability initiatives which guide campus operations.
Located at our Center for Environmental Education and Research (CEER), our solar array provides a significant proportion of the electricity needs of campus. The 14-acre site holds over 12,000 individual solar panels and provides 3 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 30% of campus operations. That’s equivalent to the electricity consumed in all of our dorms. Completed in the summer of 2018, it is the largest solar energy field associated with any college or university in Pennsylvania. We entered into a power purchasing agreement with WGL Energy Systems, which constructed the array and maintains it while selling generated electricity to us for the next 25 years.
In the spirit of the project, we have eliminated the need for fossil fuels to maintain the solar array by using a flock of sheep to act as natural lawn mowers. The sheep, provided from a local sheep farmer, are on site from April to October to keep the grass short and the weeds at bay!
View live data of production from our solar array.
Switching from Coal to Natural Gas Heating
In 2014, Susquehanna began replacing its outdated, inefficient 50-year-old coal-fired central steam heating plant, which heated two-thirds of the campus. In its place, the university installed a de-centralized system that put high-efficiency, natural gas boilers into 18 different campus buildings. This transition has resulted in campus being 40 percent more energy efficient and has reduced carbon dioxide emissions for heating by nearly 80%.
Energy Efficiency Projects
In addition to greening our electricity, we’re using less electricity through energy efficiency projects. The university has replaced less efficient lighting, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs and high pressure sodium lamps, with more efficient LED lights around campus. We will continue this replacement program until all appropriate lighting has been upgraded. Our facilities staff regularly monitor the heating and cooling controls and systems to ensure buildings are comfortable while being as efficient as possible. Additionally, in fall 2018, we began to offer students the opportunity to rent MicroFridges for their dorms. MicroFridges use less electricity than comparable mini-fridges with the added benefit of providing a microwave and a convenient delivery/pickup method.
Following LEED Standards
We have several LEED-certified buildings on campus—including the Natural Sciences Center, two residence halls in the West Village Complex and the Admissions building—and a commitment to follow LEED standards as much as possible throughout the rest of campus. Following these building standards creates buildings that use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Smart controls utilize computers and sensors to adjust lighting, heating, air conditioning, and fresh air flow—keeping buildings comfortable for occupants while maximizing energy usage. A retrofitting effort is also increasing the number of low-flow water fixtures and low-flush toilets. For example, the Natural Sciences Center was constructed with energy efficiency in mind. Ample natural light enters the interior of the building so lights often are not needed. The building stays comfortable due to an efficient temperature control system and lots of insulation. Students are also surrounded by items that contain significant percentages of post-consumer recycled material—including carpeting, tile and furniture.
Keeping the Landfill Less Full
From classrooms and offices to food service, residential facilities, and construction and maintenance activities, the campus is geared toward diverting as much material from landfills as possible.
Recycling receptacles for paper, plastic and glass are located throughout campus. The university's recycling initiative has been dramatically expanded to include the recycling of e-waste, such as computers and cell phones, non-lead alkaline lithium batteries and battery packs, automobile batteries, steel, copper, mixed aluminum, sheet aluminum, and aluminum wire. To consolidate our waste infrastructure, trash bins have been removed from classrooms and relocated to convenient common spaces alongside recycling bins, thus equalizing the effort to use a trash or recycling bin.
Our dining services recycling program includes recycling paper products and composting pre-consumer waste at our campus garden. We have piloted zero waste meals in the dining hall where food waste is composted at our campus garden. Additionally, students have the ability to bring their own mugs to on campus coffee shops and water bottle filling stations are located across campus so students can use reusable water bottles.
And when it comes to recycling, student initiatives count. Spearheaded by an SU student, our TerraCycle program was established to collect normally hard-to-recycle waste—such as chip bags, oral care products, and granola and power bar wrappers.
Pollinator Friendly Campus
It's Awesome to Bee Here
Pollinators are responsible for cross-pollinating 30% of the world’s crops, worth about $16 billion annually. Pollinators are facing an uncertain future due to colony collapse disorder and other threats including herbicide, insecticide, and pesticide use, habitat destruction, and emerging diseases such as Acute Paralysis virus. We recognize that pollinator protection is vital for our society to continue to thrive. Our commitment to protect pollinators is demonstrated by our work toward becoming Bee Campus USA certified.
Our habitat plan and integrated pest management plan are underway and will be our primary vehicles to ensure that our grounds promote a healthy pollinator population. Our Center for Environmental Education and Research (CEER) property is a large part of our pollinator habitat. No chemicals are used on this property that would have an adverse effect on pollinators and wildflowers planted on the property provide a source of food. Our undeveloped land provides ample habitat space for all kinds of pollinators. Additionally, we have 5 bee hives located near our apple and cherry trees that provide a hands-on learning opportunity for our Beekeeping Club.
Throughout campus, we make every effort to use plant species native to the region. Native plants offer habitat and bio-diversity benefits to campus. These plants have evolved to survive in our specific region with minimal inputs. Interested parties can use this Plant List to find native plants to plant on your own properties from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Sustainability, Security and Justice
We are committed to doing all that we can to assure food sustainability, security and justice for both the campus and the greater Selinsgrove community. We have taken the lead role in a collaboration between Susquehanna University, Bucknell University, the New York Pennsylvania Campus Compact, Union-Snyder Community Action Agency, and local community gardens to facilitate networking, food distribution and community building called Sowing Change.
In addition, our Campus Garden, operated by students, produces food to donate to local organizations that feed the food insecure in our region and offers students hands-on opportunities to learn how to produce food. Volunteer garden hours are offered weekly to students, staff, and faculty who wish to help at the garden and get their hands dirty. The campus garden isn’t the only place on campus where we’re growing food. Next to the Blough-Weis Library, we’ve built a Shakespearean Edible Garden full of herbs mentioned in Shakespeare’s writing. The herbs are available to the campus community.
The university’s dining services program places a priority on obtaining locally sourced food from nearby farmers, growers and distributors—both through its own purchases and the food it obtains from Sysco, its major food supplier. Not only is sourcing sustainable food important, reducing the amount of food wasted means less wasted resources. To reduce food waste on campus, our main dining room instituted trayless dining over a decade ago and we’ve seen a significant reduction in food ending up in the landfill.
We have been recognized by external organizations as an institution of higher education that is dedicated to incorporating sustainability into our curriculum, co-curricular experiences and operations. Through our efforts to pursuing sustainability, we have been awarded a bronze certification by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System. The Princeton Review included us in their list of green schools and the Sierra Club listed us a one of their cool schools. Additionally, we are the first university in Pennsylvania to become affiliated with Bee Campus USA for our commitment to protect pollinators and raise awareness about the challenges they face.