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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.


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.


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. The following are guidelines for recycling on campus: (insert recycling image). Students are required to collect their recyclable materials in the single blue 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.

Employees :: call the recycling coordinator at x3611 if you need a recycling bin.


Other Recycling Activities & Mercyhurst

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.

The following materials are recyclable:

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.