The Office of Sustainability will support projects across diverse work areas:
- Planning & Policies
- Academic Initiatives
- Engagement & Communication
- Physical Plant & Operations
- Waste & Recycling
- Campus Living, Dining & Events
- Social & Economic Justice
Here are a few snapshots of recent projects on campus. For more information, see the Sustainabilty Annual Report.
The Office of Sustainability is a resource for a number of academic initiatives. The Sustainability Officer does the following:
- Mentors student research, specifically Capstone projects that are sustainability-related
- Develops course plug-in lessons, and presents guest lectures in courses
- Teaches an Introduction to Sustainability course
- Works with Academic Affairs to integrate sustainability into the Educational Master Plan
- Develops experiential education opportunities by using the Office of Sustainability and its ongoing projects as a ‘living laboratory’ for students
For instance several sections of an English class researched the topic of waste and advocated for changes in waste management on campus and in Los Angeles.
The Sustainability Officer provided guest lectures to over 20 courses, ranging from upper-division Business classes to freshmen seminar classes.
Senior students completed capstone research projects on permaculture, alternative energies, and native landscaping, and made recommendations for MCU.
Engagement & Communication
The Office of Sustainability offers several educational resources and opportunities. For example:
- Sustainable Office Program
- Sustainable Living Guide
- Sustainable Tip of the Month
Learn more about these programs under ‘What You Can Do.’
We also host educational events and forums for students and the wider community, including Sustainability Week every April around Earth Day.
Physical Plant & Operations
The Office of Sustainability supports energy and water conservation efforts on campus, green building and maintenance practices, and sustainable landscaping.
For instance, thanks to a recent relamping project, most lights on campus use energy efficient bulbs and have thermal occupancy sensors.
In summer 2013, we replaced nearly 40 toilets with low flow units, saving around 1/3 gallon of water for each flush.
ARAMARK, our facilities service providers, uses green certified cleaning products, including ‘blue cleaning’—using electrically activated water in place of chemicals. Learn more about blue cleaning.
The Chapel Circle was replanted with 100% California coastal native plants, the first of its kind on campus. Other landscaping beds feature drought-tolerant or adapted species that help conserve water and promote native habitat.
In summer 2013, we donated and repurposed over 800 tons of gravel, rock, and soil from on-campus construction projects to the City of Rancho Palos Verdes to be used in local public improvement projects.
MCU also brought a herd of about 300 goats to campus for fire and weed abatement instead of using mechanized systems of land clearing.
Waste & Recycling
The Office of Sustainability supports waste aversion and diversion efforts including donation and reuse practices, and recycling programs.
For instance, the Office of Sustainability coordinated a tour of Waste Management’s local transfer station and performed a waste characterization—the sorting and weighing of all MCU waste. These activities helped the Marymount community better understand how much and what type of waste we produce.
Students performed a food waste audit in spring 2013, and sorted out food waste from all the café and student center trash for two days. They found that on average, MCU wastes around 1,500 pounds of food a week. The Office will facilitate regular food waste audits, and explore ways to educate students about how to reduce waste.
The Office also did a recycling bin audit, and ensured that all classrooms, offices, and residential spaces had adequate recycling bins, as well as signage about what can and cannot be recycled.
Special battery recycling stations are available across the different campuses. Routine e-waste recycling pick-ups also offer a convenient and responsible way to dispose of electronic wastes for employees, students, and community members. In 2012-13, we recycled over 2 tons of e-waste.
MCU offers several programs to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles that come to campus, including the free campus shuttle, and a carpooling program. Students are actively researching and developing recommendations for alternative fuel fleets as well.
In spring 2013, MCU installed three electric vehicle charging stations to serve employees, students, and community members who drive electric vehicles.
Campus Living, Dining & Events
Bon Appétit, our food service provider, is committed to more sustainable food purchasing, less waste, and providing healthy options. For instance, 20% of purchases are local, all meat and dairy is hormone and antibiotic free, and fish purchasing is based on Marine Stewardship Council guidelines. Learn more about Bon Appétit’s practices.
Starting fall 2013, MCU is going ‘trayless’ to help reduce food waste, and contribute to water and energy savings. The Café also offers EcoTrays, which allows café customers to enroll in a reusable to-go box program instead of paying a 25 cent fee for every disposable serviceware item.
Residential Life staff coordinate ‘Move in & Move out’ services to promote recycling and donating furniture or other items at the beginning and end of each term.
The Office of Sustainability purchased recycling bins for each of the residential units, and students delivered the bins, information about what can and cannot be recycled, and the Sustainable Living Guide.
Social & Economic Justice
In Spring 2013, the Office of Sustainability teamed up with Campus Ministry and coordinated a Fair Trade Fair during Mission Week.