We don’t just talk the talk

Our strong commitment to sustainability is demonstrated through various sustainability initiatives which guide campus operations.


Energy

Solar Energy

Susquehanna operates a 12,000-panel solar array that supplies 30 percent of the university's elec...

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 November 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In 2014, Susquehanna began replacing its outdated, inefficient 50-year-old coal-fired central steam heating plant, which heated two-thirds of the campus.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. Additional questions about how to rent a microfridge can be directed to Residence Life.

EV Charging Stations

SWTCH Energy’s EV chargers, installed in the university’s Admission House parking lot in fall 2023, were championed by Grant Rowe ’23 from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. Rowe, a dual-degree graduate in environmental studies and political science, played a key role in advocating for environmental causes at Susquehanna. The Level 2 EV chargers were funded by Susquehanna’s Student Government Association, with partial support from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Driving PA Forward program. 


Green Buildings

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.


Waste and Recycling

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 readily available throughout the campus, alongside expanded recycling initiatives encompassing e-waste, batteries, metals and more. Trash bins have been strategically relocated to common areas, simplifying waste separation for all. Student-led initiatives, like the TerraCycle program, play a pivotal role in diverting hard-to-recycle items from landfills. Spearheaded by passionate students, this program collects items such as chip bags and beauty product containers each week, ensuring they are properly prepared for recycling.

Additionally, the Hawk Stuff thrift store reduces waste by collecting and redistributing gently used items during move-out periods, benefitting both the environment and students’ wallets. The campus dining services further contribute to waste reduction by diverting food waste to a local pig farm, where it is used to feed the animals. This initiative significantly decreases landfill waste while also reducing the need for additional pig feed. Moreover, students are encouraged to bring their own mugs to on-campus coffee shops and utilize water bottle filling stations, promoting the use of reusable containers and furthering our commitment to sustainability.


Pollinator Friendly Campus

It’s Awesome to Bee Here 

Beehives

Pollinators play a crucial role in our ecosystem, responsible for cross-pollinating 30% of the world’s crops, valued at $16 billion annually. However, these vital creatures face threats such as colony collapse disorder and habitat destruction. Recognizing the importance of pollinator protection, we are working towards Bee Campus USA certification, demonstrating our commitment to safeguarding these essential species.

Our habitat and integrated pest management plans are central to nurturing a healthy pollinator population on our grounds. At our Center for Environmental Education and Research (CEER) property, we prioritize pollinator-friendly practices, with wildflowers providing essential food sources and no harmful chemicals used. Moreover, our campus features native plant species, supporting biodiversity and offering valuable habitat spaces for pollinators. Visitors can explore native plant options through resources provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, fostering sustainable practices beyond our campus borders.


Food

Sustainability, Security and Justice

SU Sustainability

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. We’re excited to announce that Sowing Change is being transitioned into a Hunger Coalition through the Union-Snyder Community Action Agency to further address food insecurity in our region.

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.


External Recognition

Award-Winning Practices

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.


Peer Educators

Sustainability Project Leaders at SU

The Office of Sustainability hires and trains students to continue to further the sustainability efforts of campus. These students, called Sustainability Project Leaders, manage sustainability projects like our Terracycle Program or our on-campus, free, thrift store called Hawk Stuff. Sustainability Project Leaders do more than just manage projects, they also educate their fellow students about sustainability issues and infuse sustainability throughout campus. Several of our project leaders are focused on specific sub-populations at SU, such as first year students, athletes, and Greek Life. Their role is to reach out to these groups and work with them on projects catered to those audiences and to provide a contact person that students can reach out to when they have sustainability questions. This has included trivia nights for first year students, athletic specific focus groups, and recycling training for Greek Life. If you are interested in having a Sustainability Project Leader come to talk to your club, organization, team, or residence hall, email sustainabilty@susqu.edu to set it up!


Behind the Scenes

Efforts to Reduce Susquehanna’s Environmental Footprint

Not all sustainability efforts are as obvious as our 14 acres of solar panels. Many sustainability efforts happen behind the scenes and not easily noticeable while walking around campus. Here are some examples of what we do behind the scenes to reduce our environmental footprint.

  • We have a Sustainability Committee comprised of faculty, staff, students who push for sustainability changes across campus.
  • For all electricity that we purchase from the grid (i.e. what is not produced from our solar panels) we purchase wind-powered renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset our associated carbon emissions.
  • Each night as you go to bed, you’re engaging with another sustainability initiative. We’re transitioning the mattresses across campus to a more sustainable alternative. These new mattresses are manufactured using 60% - 80% recycled content and the best part is they’re 100% recyclable at the end of their useful lives.
  • Sometimes, it’s not what we’re doing but what we’re no longer doing that is sustainable. We removed trays from Evert Dining Room over a decade ago to cut down on food waste. It’s so ingrained in our culture that we now don’t even think twice about it!
  • A new program called the EcoHawk Office Program was launched in late 2019 to encourage offices and departments around campus to become more sustainable. This points-based program awards offices a certification through analyzing their day-to-day operations and making changes to better align with sustainable practices.“

Contact Us

Sustainability

514 University Ave.
Selinsgrove, Pa. 17870

Get Directions

Phone & Email

Greg Severyn
Director of Sustainability
Associate Professor of Spanish Studies
570-372-4265