"You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make."Jane Goodall

Student Sustainability Fund

The Mercyhurst Sustainability Fund began as an initiative from the 2006-07 student Green Team. Members of the Green Team successfully campaigned for the fee through petitions (with over 1,000 students signing) and a 2-1 student referendum vote. Initially, the fee was called the "Student Green Energy Fee." 

The fund was eventually renamed the "Mercyhurst Sustainability Fund" so that it could have boarder impacts on Mercyhurst's efforts toward sustainability. Each student on the Erie Campus currently pays $5.00 per semester. The fund is administered by a review board consisting of students, staff, administrators, and faculty. The review board meets periodically to review proposals, which may be submitted by any Erie Campus community member. 

Past Funded Projects 

  • Sustainable landscaping and rain garden behind Warde 
  • Sister Maura Smith Peace Garden 
  • Electric hand dryers 
  • Hydration station upgrades for Erie campus water fountains 
  • RiverBlue screening on campus with Fashion Council and Student Sustainability Club 
  • Bee Hotel – habitat for native bees and information board 
  • National Water Dance 
  • Sustainability Club Earth Week Activities


Sustainable Energy


Geothermal heating and cooling systems rely on the fact that the earth’s temperature just below the surface remains relatively constant independent of the air temperature above the surface. This means that during the winter the earth’s temperature is warmer than the air temperature and during the summer it is cooler. This is a type of renewable energy and so is more sustainable than burning fossil fuels for heating or cooling. However, a geothermal system requires electricity to run, so, although more energy efficient, the system itself is not completely sustainable.

The Geothermal system uses a fluid, like water, to help with heat exchange. The water flows from the building through pipes into the ground, where the heat exchange occurs and then flows back into the building. When the building needs cooled, the water is already warm from the building’s temperature; it flows into the ground where the heat from the water is lost to the cooler surrounding surfaces. The water flows back into the building where the mechanical part of the system uses the temperature from the cooler water and using an air circulating system cools the building. During cooler months, the water is cooler and pulls heat from the surrounding warmer surfaces as it is pumped through the ground and back into the building. The warmer water is then used to heat the building with the air circulation system.

Since the mid-1990s, for example, Mercyhurst has been a regional pioneer in demonstrating the environmental and financial benefits of geothermal heating and cooling, which uses the constant temperature of the earth as a renewable energy source and then uses electricity to distribute the temperature by air throughout a building to either heat or cool. This form of geothermal heat exchange produces an average of 50-70% fewer carbon emissions.


Recycling saves energy, resources, and waste, and it reduces pollution. Mercyhurst participates in single-stream recycling so all recyclable materials can be mixed into a single container. Items should be free of food debris. Items that can be recycled are:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Food and beverage cans
  • Plastic bottles and jugs

Other Recycling Initiatives

Inkjet Cartridges

  • Return Ricoh toner to the Docucenter
  • Other cartridges can be placed in designated places on campus to be recycled to earn money for the Student Green Team


  • New in 2017, recycling polystyrene! Contact the sustainability coordinator to arrange a pick up or drop off of your polystyrene waste. This will be taken to a local foam company to be recycled.

Outdoor Dual Trash/Recycling Bins

Earth Tub Composting Systems

Green Roof on Zurn Ceramics Lab

Indoor Recycling Bin Upgrades

Trash Pickup around Erie County

Beach Cleanup at Presque Isle