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Sustainability Initiative & Sustainability Studies


What is Sustainability?

Mercyhurst’s Sustainability Mission

There’s a lot of talk about sustainability — but what is it really? The concept of sustainability emerged in the 1970s, but was first used in the context of global resource conservation in the 1987 United Nations report titled, “Our Common Future,” in which sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Inspired by Mercyhurst University’s Mission and core values, the Mercyhust Green Team was established in 2000 with a commitment to transforming our community into a model institution of environmental sustainability. For more than a decade, this committed group of students, faculty, administrators and staff have conceived and implemented a wide range of projects and activities aimed at realizing a global vision of a more sustainable future right here in Erie. That vision is one in which all human societies can live healthy and productive lives in ways that sustain the integrity, beauty and biodiversity of the earth, while promoting a more equitable sharing of the earth’s resources without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. By the fall of 2012, the Green Team’s historic efforts had successfully matured into the new Sustainability Committee, a permanent standing body of the university council that reflects Mercyhurst’s institutional commitment to environmental stewardship.


Sustainability at Mercyhurst Making a difference.

President Thomas Gamble joined several hundred college and university presidents in signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in October 2007.

In 2003, Mercyhurst became one of the first colleges in Pennsylvania to purchase 10 percent of its electricity from wind power. In 2010, Mercyhurst was recognized nationally when it made the historic commitment to 100 percent, meaning that all of the electrical power used on campus would be offset by the purchase of renewable energy. This change has dramatically reduced the volume of the university’s greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Since 2003, the student-introduced Trash to Treasure program has collected numerous used household items, food and clothing from residents during spring move-outs. In 2012, Mercyhurst donated 1,250 pounds of food, 180 bags of clothing, and $1,650 worth of appliances and household goods, including furniture, bedding, books and kitchen supplies.


In 2007, Mercyhurst students, led by the Green Team, petitioned and voted overwhelmingly to establish a Green Energy Fee ($5/term/student); thereby creating the Mercyhurst Sustainability Fund that has since supported a range of exciting projects, among them:

• A green roof was installed on the Zurn Hall Ceramics Lab (fall 2010). Exterior signage educates students and visitors about how the green roof will address storm water issuess; it reduces runoff and purifies water that percolates the ground. The roof will also cut down on landfill costs by extending the life of the roof by 30 to 40 percent.

• Two Earth Tub composters were added on the southeast side of the Warde Hall parking lot (fall 2012) to help decrease disposal of Mercyhurst University’s food waste at the landfill.

• The purchase of recycling bins for all on-campus residents was completed during the spring of 2013 to help increase campus recycling rates, while making it more convenient for our students. In addition, the Mercyhurst Student Government Sustainability Committee purchased three new outdoor recycling bins strategically placed for the benefit of upperclassman. These bins are located outside the Center for Academic Engagement and by student housing on Briggs Ave. and Lewis Ave.


Curriculum — Sustainability Studies Recognized as a regional leader for its commitment to renewable energy, sustainable food production, and student engagement in a range of environmental initiatives, Mercyhurst University is a great place to study the multi-faceted and interdisciplinary world of sustainability studies. Our program is based at the Erie campus, but students in the program are frequently engaged in experiential learning projects and activities throughout the community and at our North East campus. The program’s emphasis on hands-on learning is designed to prepare our students for employment in a broad range of fields upon graduation. Currently, Mercyhurst offers the following programs: • Sustainability Studies Major • Sustainability Studies Minor (complements a wide range of academic majors) • Sustainability Studies concentrations in Chemistry and Biology • Organizational Leadership graduate program, concentration in Sustainability Studies

Find out more. Brittany Prischak Sustainability Officer Office: Egan 305 814-824-3829
 bprischak@mercyhurst.edu Dr. Dyan McBride Chair of Sustainability Fund Review Board dmcbride@mercyhurst.edu Student Green Team greenteam@mercyhurst.edu mercyhurst.edu/sustainability


Mercyhurst University Sustainability