Reporting System

Progress Report for Aquinas College

Submitted on Jan. 15, 2013; Last updated on Jan. 15, 2013

The Progress Report is intended to help signatories assess and track progress toward the goals outlined
in their Climate Action Plans and to share that progress with their stakeholders and the general public.

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General Statement of Progress

Aquinas College is progressively and proactively making its way toward carbon neutrality by the year 2040. Since the year 2003, Aquinas College has offered a sustainable business undergraduate degree, which lead to the development of a Master in Sustainable Business in 2010. This course work focuses on restoring environmental quality, promoting stable and healthy communities, and increasing long-term profitability, with an emphasis on the effects of climate change. Along with educating Aquinas College community members, strides have been made to reduce Aquinas College’s carbon footprint through the generation of solar energy, energy efficiency projects, and the engagement of the surrounding community.

Aquinas College has generated up to 14,400 KWh per year through the 12KW capacity photovoltaic array on top of the Jarecki –Lacks-Hauenstein Building. Since 2008, Aquinas College has completed 14 different energy efficiency projects and has 7 additional projects planned for the coming years. These projects include: upgrading boilers from 60 to 92% efficiency in 7 campus buildings, upgrading roofing insulation on 5 campus buildings, and upgrading a number of light fixtures. These projects have produced cost savings, along with the reduction of Aquinas’s overall carbon footprint.

Aquinas College has built or renovated four separate buildings that meet USGBC: LEED certification and plans to build an addition in the next two years. Aquinas College is very involved within the local community. Aquinas has hosted events and initiated community service and service-learning activities related to climate neutrality, while also developing community partnerships related to GHG reductions and sustainability that encourage faculty and staff to make personal efficiency upgrades in their residences.

As Aquinas College pushes forward in becoming carbon neutral, Aquinas continues to educate its staff and students on the importance of climate change and develop its polices and sustainability initiatives in relation to climate change. Aquinas College will continue to strive to reach its climate neutrality goal by 2040 through incremental completion of energy efficient projects, the adoption and integration of renewable energy technologies, and further education of community members.

GHG Emissions & Reduction Targets

Climate Neutrality Target Date: 2040
Interim Milestone Emission-Reduction Target Target Date Baseline*
40% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2020 relative to baseline emissions in 2009
60% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2025 relative to baseline emissions in 2009
80% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2030 relative to baseline emissions in 2009
95% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2035 relative to baseline emissions in 2009
100% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2040 relative to baseline emissions in 2009
[click to view Climate Action Plan - 2015 Climate Action Plan]

GHGs summary

GHGs for Aquinas College
Reporting Year Gross Emissions Net Emissions Full Time Enrollments Total Bldg. Sq. Ft. [action]
2009 9731.8 9683.8 1787.26 648806.0 [ view ]
2011 8715.5 8667.5 1908.0 648806.0 [ view ]
2013 8411.6 8363.6 1901.0 648806.0 [ view ]
2015 8340.0 8292.0 1761.0 769690.0 [ view ]
  • Change in GHG gross emissions


  • Change in GHG emissions per 1000 sq.ft. building space


  • Change in GHG emissions per full time enrollment (FTE)


Education, Research, & Community Engagement


  • How is your institution making climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experiences for all students?

    In 2003, Aquinas College launched the sustainable business major, the first undergraduate degree program of its kind in the nation. Sustainable business practices restore environmental quality, promote stable and healthy communities, and increase long-term profitability. The Aquinas undergraduate sustainable business degree program aims to foster new business leadership focused on innovation for sustainability. Success in the undergraduate program led to the development of the Master in Sustainable Business, which was launched in 2010. Both of these interdisciplinary degrees include a significant focus on the issues of climate neutrality and global climate change. The undergraduate curriculum requires courses in other areas of study, such as business, geography, environmental studies, biology and chemistry. This has allowed students and faculty in other disciplines to become familiar with sustainability principles and practices and incorporate relevant material in their course offerings.
    Our current Strategic Plan (2012-2015) has a prominent mission component related to sustainability, with a particular emphasis on the integration of sustainability and Catholic Social teaching. Additionally, we have launched an intensive Zero Waste Campaign that provides a vehicle for learning by “living” sustainability across the entire campus.

  • Education methods in use

    • Included sustainability in fulfilling regional accreditation requirements.
    • Other - Aquinas College offers a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Business degree program and a Master in Sustainable Business degree program.

  • Does your institution offer an undergraduate degree program(s) related to climate change/sustainability?

    The Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Business degree program.

  • Does your institution offer a graduate degree program in climate change/sustainability?

    The Master in Sustainable Business degree program.


  • Does your institution have a central sustainability website that consolidates information about the institution's sustainability efforts?


  • Does your institution include sustainability prominently in new student orientation?

    Yes, starting from day one, students take part in an orientation program centered on sustainability. Students are informed of the sustainability initiatives and resources on campus and tours emphasize examples of sustainability throughout campus.


  • If applicable, how is your institution expanding research efforts toward the achievement of climate neutrality research?

    There has been an increase in the availability of funding and release-time for faculty research, as well as funding for and faculty support of undergraduate research. Where there are no specific restrictions on the type of research being fostered through these programs, there is increasing interest in sustainability-related topics.

  • Does your institution have a program to encourage student climate and or sustainability research?

    As a potential project funded through the Moller-Thompson summer research project (See undergraduate student research page at and the Summer Scholars program, which pairs a faculty member with a student researcher. Student interns at the Center for Sustainability also conduct research related to climate and/or sustainability research.
    Additionally, students in the Master in Sustainable Business program are required to conduct an applied research project utilizing sustainable business principles and strategies.

  • Does your institution have a program to encourage faculty climate and or sustainability research?

    Faculty may apply for potential projects funded through the Summer Scholars program, which pairs a faculty member with a student researchers, as well as through sabbaticals and a course-release program for faculty. Faculty is also supported with mini-grant funding for individual research projects.

Community Engagement

  • How is your institution expanding community outreach efforts toward the achievement of climate neutrality?

    Hosting of Community Events & Partnerships - Local First- Feb 23, 2011. This event featured keynote speaker Justin Rashid, president and CEO of American Spoon Foods. Rashid spoke on why supporting one’s community is vital to the long-term sustainability of our local businesses and economy, and highlighted the work he’s done at American Spoon to champion Michigan farmers and Michigan-made products. Other speakers covered topics such as: marketing, advertising, social media, creating excellent customer service, and making sustainability profitable. - Michigan Interfaith Power and Light Conference – October 5, 2011. The keynote speaker was Dr. Andrew Hoffman, from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. This event focused on Informing and educating congregations, students, and the public in building visions for sustainability in faith communities and identifying plausible next steps for action. Energy efficient strategies, education, and public policies were addressed in relation to climate change issues. - Michigan Business Review- May 26, 2011. This event provided firsthand knowledge and local expertise on the measurable benefits of sustainable practices and how to set obtainable goals and objectives. The event covered everything from tracking metrics and the use of technology, to the social components, that play a part in addressing climate change. - Local First Conference- March 28, 2012. This event focused on incorporating sustainable business practices into companies and organizations. Specific sessions covered how to measure and reduce an organization’s carbon footprint. The conference included keynote speaker Jake Victor, co-founder of Avalon International Breads, expert panels, breakout sessions, and vendor booths. - Wege Lecture Series featuring Dr. Daniel Janzen- April 19, 2012. This event featured Dr. Daniel Janzen who has devoted his life to preserving and protecting tropical forests in Costa Rica. Dr. Janzen focused on his work to restore the forest ecosystems in a large, conserved, wild land in northwestern Costa Rica. The lecture focused on conservation of biodiversity, and why what happens in Costa Rica matters to the rest of the world in respect to climate change. - Youth Policy Summit- July 22-28, 2012. We hosted this program in partnership with the Keystone Policy Center. The program aimed to develop high school students to be effective leaders, while providing an opportunity to explore diverse perspective of societal issues, such as climate change, using meditation, negotiation, and consensus building. Presentations at Events: Michigan Interfaith Power and Light Conference- Madonna University- 10/4/12. This event consisted of two keynote speakers and a number of other speakers addressing sustainability topics that promote healthy communities and ways to positively impact climate change. Partnership with the WMEAC Better Building’s Program. BetterBuildings for Michigan partners with Aquinas College to offer whole-home energy assessments for all staff, faculty, students and alumni to identify energy-saving opportunities in their homes. BetterBuildings for Michigan is a collaborative effort between the State of Michigan, the City of Grand Rapids, DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council to help connect our community with available resources to support energy efficiency in the home. Service Learning programs that address Climate Change/sustainability: Bethlehem Farm, West Virginia- Bethlehem’s mission is to provide volunteers a communal experience of Church as a center reflection and prayer, while working to promote justice through the empowerment of local communities and volunteers. Alongside students from other universities and colleges, Aquinas students spend one week at Bethlehem Farm working mostly on home reconstruction/ rehabilitation.

  • Does your institution participate in community climate change and or sustainability partnerships?

    Yes, including the initiation of community service or service-learning activities related to climate neutrality, development of community partnerships related to GHG reductions and sustainability, introduction of community education initiatives related to climate change and sustainability, the development of programs that support faculty and staff in making personal efficiency upgrades at their residences, and subsidized home efficiency audits.

  • Has your institution advocated for federal, state, and/or local public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance your goal of climate neutrality?


Energy & Finances

Energy Efficiency Projects

  • Number of Energy Efficiency Retrofit Projects planned, but not yet implemented:


  • Number of Energy Efficiency Retrofit Projects completed since signing the ACUPCC:


  • Number of buildings that have received a green building certification since signing the ACUPCC:


  • Number of green buildings planned or scheduled for completion in the next 2 years:


  • For all buildings, the green building certification/rating used is:


Renewable Energy

  • Annual output (in kWhs) for each renewable energy system utilized by Aquinas College

    • Solar output: 14400 kWh

Financial Data

  • Has your Climate Action Plan and/or related sustainability efforts saved your institution money so far, e.g. by reducing operational expenses?


  • Amount spent on CAP projects:


  • Estimated amount saved to date from implementing your CAP projects:


  • Estimated total savings expected from implementing entire Climate Action Plan


  • Financial resources (dollar amount) secured from outside sources to support mitigation efforts related to the Climate Action Plan (grants, gifts, etc...) :


finance methods...
  • Financing Methods utilized for Mitigation or Renewable Energy Projects:
    • Other
        Internal Funds

Non-public data

This data is available to signatories with reporting system access.
"" fields in which no data was submitted have been omitted from this report