In October 2007, Mercyhurst University President Thomas Gamble joined several hundred college and university presidents in signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Driven by the international scientific consensus that addressing the worst impacts of global warming necessitates a minimum goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050, the Climate Commitment obligates all signatories to a goal of carbon neutrality for their institutions. It immediately compels each institution to conduct a comprehensive inventory of greenhouse gases emitted, by the institution itself and by their employees and students. It further requires each college or university to develop a thorough, methodical and incremental plan for reducing greenhouse gases.
Mercyhurst’s greenhouse gas emissions study has been completed, with Dr. Michael Campbell, professor of biology, leading his field ecology students in this project.
Mercyhurst's Climate Action Plan has been approved!
To view the President's Climate Commitment website, click here.
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.
In 2006, the Mercyhurst Green Team received a $15,000 grant through the Solar Scholars program to install a 3-kilowatt solar panel system on campus. The funding was provided by the Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern Pennsylvania. During the summer of 2006, Dr. Ron Brown, associate professor of chemistry, along with two of his students, traveled to Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., to receive training on the installation and monitoring of the panels. With assistance from the physical plant staff of Mercyhurst University and North Coast Energy Systems (a local company with expertise in alternative energy installations), the panels were installed in November 2007. From the time of their installation through July 2008 the panels produced over 2,400 kWh of energy for the university and have reduced Mercyhurst University carbon dioxide emissions by over 5,000 pounds. The solar panels also save the university about $1,200 annually in electricity costs and are used for special projects in classes and student research.
As of the summer 2011, this solar panel system has been moved out to the Mercyhurst Farm, located in Girard, PA due to the construction of the CAE building at the front of campus.
"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait 'til oil and coal run out before we tackle that."
- Thomas Edison
Starting in 2003, the university began purchasing 10% of the electricity consumption as wind energy through Community Energy, Inc. which is verified by a third party, Green-e.
In 2008, with help from the Green Team and funding from the Green Energy Fund, the percentage of our wind purchase was increased from 10% to 30%.
In July 2010, Mercyhurst University finally increased this purchase to cover 100% of our electricity consumption. This purchase yields a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions due to electricity used on campus. With electricity being the highest cause of greenhouse gas emissions on campus. With electricity being the highest cause of greenhouse gas emissions on campus, this is a very important step to reaching carbon neutrality.
The university offsets about 7000 Metric Tons of carbon emissions due to our electricity consumption on the Erie Campus through a wind power purchase. This offset purchase supports national wind projects.
As a purchaser of green power, Mercyhurst University has joined other colleges, universities and other businesses as an EPA Green Power Partner.
Follow these guidelines and suggestions for recycling to start making a difference today!
Recycling saves energy, resources, and waste, and it reduces pollution.
Although we have retained separate bins in hallways of academic buildings, all recyclable materials may now be mixed into single containers for disposal. This is especially important in student housing and in offices, where we have only a single bin for recyclables.
Students are required to collect their recyclable materials in the single bin provided to them and deposit them in nearby recycling dumpsters marked “RECYCLING ONLY.”
Students :: see your RA / HD / AD if you need a recycling bin.
Glass Bottles and Jars: clear, brown, and green, rinsed and unbroken (DO NOT include window glass, drinking glasses or light bulbs)
Metal Food or Beverage Cans: all types, rinsed, crushed or uncrushed
Plastics: numbers 1 through 7 (look on the bottom), including lids. Rinse thoroughly, crushed or uncrushed (NO styrofoam)
Newspapers and Magazines
Paperboard: cereal and food boxes, beverage cartons, egg cartons and paper bags (NO wax coated boxes or pizza boxes)
Paper: all grades and colors, such as junk mail, envelopes, writing, typing, wrapping and computer paper (NO paper towels or napkins)
Ink Jet Cartridges: separate boxes are located in the following areas: Preston Mailroom, Hermann Student Union, Hammermill Library, Zurn 1st Floor, Hirt second floor. The Green Team earns up to $4 for each ink jet cartridge that is recycled!
Phone Books: November-January. Separate bins provided. Feel free to bring your phone books from home. This is a great project, as it earns money for the Second Harvest Food Bank. In addition, Erie Energy Products converts the phone books into home insulating material.
Employees :: Whenever possible, use Blackboard, email and Library Electronic Reserve as a means of reducing paper use.
Students :: Contact us if you would like to volunteer or if you have ideas on how we can strengthen the recycling program at Mercyhurst.