"Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it." - Pope Francis, Laudato Si, #139
Sustainability and the Mercy Mission
As an institution rooted in the Mercy tradition, we strive to be good stewards of our natural resources. We are aware that our actions impact others around the world, especially people in poverty. Mercyhurst University became an Erie2030 partner in 2018. As a partner, we are working toward reducing our energy usage by 50% by 2030.
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
- LED upgrades to Baldwin Hall
- Solar umbrellas
- Reusable mugs for incoming students
- Sister Maura Smith Peace Garden
- Hydration station upgrades for campus water fountains
- RiverBlue screening on campus with Fashion Council and Student Sustainability Club
- EnergyStar appliances for Ryan Hall
- Funded Green Machine recycling vehicle and recycling program
- National Water Dance
- Water-conserving Polarpool for Athletics
- Sustainability Club Earth Week activities
LED Lighting Upgrades
Mercyhurst began converting outdoor and indoor lighting to LED fixtures in 2017. LED fixtures last longer and use dramatically less energy than other types, which reduces operating costs and our electricity footprint. To date parking lot lighting, the Field House and gym at the North East campus, and several buildings on the Erie campus have been converted to LED.
Sr. Maura Smith Peace and Pollinator Garden
Mercyhurst University’s Sr. Maura Smith Peace Garden was converted to a pollinator garden to participate in the Sisters of Mercy Monarch Milkweed Project. Students and faculty added plants that attract and nourish pollinators to the garden in 2019.
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:
- Food and beverage cans
- Plastic bottles and jugs
Other Recycling Initiatives
- Deliver small, empty cartridges to the Circulation Desk at the library
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.
Tower Garden Pilot Program
Tower Gardens are vertical aeroponic growing systems that provide an easy way to grow fresh, healthy vegetables, fruits, and herbs, indoors or out, year-round.
The Mercyhurst University Tower Garden Pilot Program provides opportunities for the campus community to be more reflectively and actively aware participants in year round locally grown and sourced foods. The benefits can be numerous, including:
- Improving mental health, especially during colder, darker months
- Providing multi-disciplinary education opportunities, including public health, education, business, sciences, etc.
- Discussing and addressing local, sustainable, and accessible food systems
- Experientially teaching environmental science education with community-engaged learners on and off-campus
- Creating a campus-supported agriculture (CSA) program for students and employees
Tower Gardens also provide a number of environmental benefits. Growing food locally cuts down on emissions involved with the transportation of produce to grocery stores. Tower gardens use up to 98% less water than traditional gardens and only need 10% of the average amount of space. They also reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides, since the nutrients used help produce healthy, strong plants that can protect themselves from pests and disease.
Students planting pollinator-friendly plants in Sr. Maura Garden
Earth Tub Composting Systems
Green Roof on Zurn Ceramics Lab
Indoor Recycling Bin Upgrades
Trash Pickup around Erie County
Beach Cleanup at Presque Isle