Saint Peter’s University
Academic programs, co-curricular programs, internships, community service, and outreach all combine to educate students about climate change, resilience, and sustainability. Sustainability Council membership covers all sectors. Academic programs include Environmental Studies; interdisciplinary courses; Honors research projects; and emerging courses in the School of Business. A student on the Sustainability Council interned with R3 (University energy consultant) on-site and will pursue his Master’s in Sustainability. SAVE (Students Against Violating the Earth) runs programs that educate and raise consciousness about the environment. SAVE participated in a bio-blitz at Sandy Hook in early Fall. A SAVE leader is about to pursue her Master’s in public policy focusing on sustainability. The campus has a bird feeder and collects data for the Cornell Bird Watch project. Our urban campus boasts a greenhouse atop the science building and a campus garden. October 26, 2016, Energy Day exposed university and local communities to narrated tours of the co-generation facilities and solar panels. A solar panel expert lectured on Renewable Energy: Today and Tomorrow. A year-long lecture series covered different aspects of climate change and included presentations on Promoting Engagement with Sustainability in Social Media and a noted meteorologist spoke on climate change in the Arctic to which he leads aurora borealis expeditions. Many science, business, and social science classes are required to attend these programs and prepare reflective papers. SAVE hosts a nature photo contest and gives seedlings in recycled K-cups. A penguin visit and lecture brought hundreds to learn about penguin biology and their endangered plight.
The Mayor of Jersey City initiated a new Office of Innovation recently with which Saint Peter’s partners. An example includes the April 2017 Climate Change Panel held on campus with leaders from the Office of Jersey City Planning, Sustainable JC, JC Environmental Commission, and NY/NJ Baykeeper; the film, Before the Flood was shown. The Innovation Office declared 2017 as the “Year of Water” with focus on clearing the storm water drains. As projects unfold, the Saint Peter’s graduate program in Data Analytics (Big Data) is available for research. Under the name of “Junkyard Dogs,” students do community service by cleaning up areas of the City. The Campus Kitchen staffed by students recoups fresh food from area corporations and our own food service and served 10,000 meals to the needy over the past academic year. Sodexo’s Senior Manager of Sustainability spoke on the local sourcing of food as used by our food service and on the company’s international commitment to sustainable practices.
For decades the University has been smoke-free inside buildings; in August 2017, the campus will become fully smoke and tobacco-free. With support from PSE&G, Saint Peter’s will initiate a signature annual lecture on sustainability starting in the Fall. The Ignite Institute in the School of Business links student teams in capstone courses with local businesses to improve their business efficiencies. In partnership with the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce, there is a “town and gown” competition where the teams showcase their findings.
A co-generation plant since 2013 with a campus Green Energy Command Center and on-site R3 Energy Management Audit and Review engineer; use of wind-powered energy; added new indoor and outdoor recycling receptacles; solar panels across rooftops; annual tree planting; recognition as Gold Level Smart Workplace by the Hudson County Transportation Management Association; unfolding plans for a summer audit to explore new clean energy initiatives – all underscore the University’s momentum to be green. Saint Peter’s LEED Silver Mac Mahon Student Center is the venue for the May 30, 2017, JC Summit featuring panels on “Role of Sustainability, Education, Livability, Smart Cities” and brings social and political capital together. City bike lanes, campus bike racks, and nearby Citi Bike station foster reduced energy usage. Collaboration with NJ Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS), Sustainable JC, and other organizations expands our outreach. Opportunities to promote sustainable practices developed from our October Energy Day and April Sustainability Celebration that included: NJHEPS President’s presentation on Cultivating an Ethos of Sustainability on Campus, For the World; corporate perspective with leaders from BASF and Sherwin-Williams; and impact of climate change on Palau by its UN Ambassador. Saint Peter’s is a signatory of the 2016 Catholic Climate Covenant. Internationally, Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, states: The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. Our values as a Jesuit university call us to “care for our common home” and to continue to reduce our GHG emissions.