Sustainability Initiative  




About the Aquinas College Sustainability Initiative

Welcome to the Aquinas Sustainability Initiative. This site will help you craft an initiative proposal that will accomplish the following three objectives:
  1. Improve the health of natural systems;
  2. Enhance the quality of life for the Aquinas community and our neighbors;
  3. Increasing long-term financial stability of the College
The initiative links you with others who want to improve and protect the natural features of our campus we’ve all grown to love. Together, we can systematically redesign our college to be the kind of place where the campus community loves to work and learn.
The first steps in the Initiative have embedded the goal of sustainability into Aquinas’ governance process. Through the leadership of Faculty and Staff Assemblies, as well as the Student Senate and Board of Trustees, formal and coordinated committees have been formed to act as a mechanism for value-producing change on campus. Each committee will consider innovations proposed by Aquinas students, staff, and faculty as well alumni and others. Innovation proposals may be further developed with the assistance of Sustainable Business student teams. In addition, a comprehensive campus inventory offers a baseline for tracking our progress toward sustainability. The effort is funded in part, through a generous gift of the Steelcase Foundation to support the Aquinas Sustainable Business Program and the Center for Sustainability at Aquinas College.
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability means different things to different people. The word “sustainable,” according to the Encarta World English Dictionary, means “able to be maintained.” This definition can be applied to various subject matters, including society as a whole, industry, agriculture, or family values. The concept of sustainability can be over-whelming because of the broad nature of the word. At its root, sustainability is a concept that is intuitive to most people.
What does an ant colony need to thrive? It needs fresh water, clean air, healthy food, and a suitable location for the colony. The natural world supplies these necessities to the ants and the only waste produced is fertilizer for soil. The ant colony is an example of a sustainable society. Rather intuitive, right? Principles of sustainability can be used to restore and nourish our living environment, while maintaining or improving our current standard of living.
Key concepts of sustainability come directly from the natural world. Nature uses sunlight as an energy source for all species. All waste is food for other species. Ant waste provides food for the microorganisms that enhance soil productivity. Natural systems also respect diversity. If a natural disaster eliminates a particular food source, the ants simply shift to another food source. Nature does not put “all her eggs in one basket” so why should we? Janine Benyus, author of "Biomimicry," reminds us that the natural world already has 3.85 billion years of design experience. Let’s look to nature when designing products, businesses, or communities.
Not only can sustainability concepts be applied to ant colonies, but they can also be applied to businesses, cities, and even the Aquinas College campus. Sustainable business practices applied to college operations may result in a decrease in waste generation, as well as reduction in resource and energy use. The same business practices that increase social and environmental capital also improve the long-term profitability of companies. These win-win situations for the natural world, the community, and business will make Aquinas a better place to work, learn, and explore.

Printed Resources (On Campus Access Only)

Examples of AQ Sustainability Initiative Ideas (pdf)
Helpful Information (pdf)