Loyola Magazine
Committing to care for the environment and all creation, on our campus and beyond
Illustration of Earth floating above an open hand

Loyola's Commitment to Sustainability Efforts

Caring for Our Common Home

Loyola's dedication to sustainability took another step forward as it joined the first international cohort of Laudato Si' Universities in the fall of 2021. That step means Loyola is committing to serve as a leader in Pope Francis' 7-Year Journey Toward Integral Ecology, an action-oriented and holistic approach to addressing social challenges in the world.

The cohort was created following the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference agreement to ‘urgently accelerate climate action' and Jesuit universities' more active commitment to the Pope's encyclical, Laudato Si.'

"Our continued commitment to sustainability, caring for the Earth and its people, is ingrained in who we are here at Loyola and exemplifies our mission to inspire students to learn, lead, and serve in a diverse and changing world," said Tracy Harvey, Ph.D., Loyola's program director of sustainability.

This summer Loyola launched a Laudato Si' Fund, which supports initiatives fulfilling its commitment as a Laudato Si' University. Examples might include investing in climate action on campus or in the community, promoting programming on environmental and social equity issues, developing more courses on ecological economics or sustainable lifestyles, or hosting retreats to reflect on the meaning of Pope Francis' 7-year challenge.

Greyhounds can contribute to the Laudato Si' Fund by making a contribution at loyola.edu/give and identifying Laudato Si' Fund as the designation.

Photo credits: Louis Umerlik, ’96

Committing to care for the environment and all creation, on our campus and beyond

As a Loyola student, Layla Horeff, '22, found classes like Human Health and the Environment and Environmental Philosophy truly eye-opening. As one of the first three graduates to earn the University's new Sustainability Management degree, Horeff had the chance to be a pioneer in the program.

Profit can be generated while fostering relationships with people in our society and throughout the world, all while preserving the planet.

With a second major in Leadership & Organizational Effectiveness, after graduation, she accepted a position as an infrastructure advisory associate at the accounting firm KPMG.

"The new BBA in Sustainability Management has prepared me for my career by providing the knowledge needed to work in the corporate world through a lens of sustainability," Horeff says. "Profit can be generated while fostering relationships with people in our society and throughout the world, all while preserving the planet."

Identifying and taking intentional steps to preserve the planet is critical for Loyola, where the University is working to deepen its commitment toward environmental sustainability. As a Jesuit university, Loyola's core mission has always centered around magis, or striving for the greater good, and—in recent years—the University has doubled down on its efforts as climate change threatens to impact lives around the globe.

The Society of Jesus designated caring for our common home as one of the four Universal Apostolic Preferences, and Loyola is focused on sustainability as one of its three priorities in the Mission Priority Examen.

Awareness and Hope

Some of the progress may feel slow at times, but those who have been advocating for the work welcome it—and find great hope in the efforts.

"The seeds of sustainability have been planted. Loyola is now in the action-oriented stage of implementing initiatives that we've worked to build over the last 10 years," said Rev. Timothy Brown, S.J., director of mission integration. "Now, there's greater awareness. Today, the conversation at Loyola is about how we can do this together across campus and make decisions across the board with sustainability as our common goal."

An Academic Focus

As a Jesuit, liberal arts university, Loyola is focused on educating leaders who understand and can work to address the issues that are relevant to environmental sustainability. That inspired the University to launch the first BBA in Sustainability Management in the state of Maryland—and one of a few such programs in the country. This innovative interdisciplinary major, which Horeff chose as part of her Loyola education, enhances students' abilities to strengthen communities through the creation and growth of sustainable and responsible businesses.

Faculty and students working in a greenhouse
Students learn about plant diversity, structure, and function in the Biology 310: Botany class. Photo credits: Brigid Hamilton, '06, M.A. '17.

"Our BBA in Sustainability Management focuses on enhancing students' critical thinking, structured planning, problem-solving, decision-making, and consulting skills, while considering strategies that organizations pursue to create lasting economic value through social and environmental performance," says Patricia Kanashiro, Ph.D., visiting scholar in the Sellinger School of Business and Management.

Students interested in addressing global sustainability issues from a policy or activist perspective can double major in Sustainability Management and Global Studies or major in Sustainability Management and minor in environmental studies. The environmental studies minor covers a variety of disciplines, including biology, chemistry, communication, economics, engineering, fine arts, history, law and social responsibility, philosophy, theology, and writing.

A Campus Roadmap

The University recognizes that it also needs to implement measures today to reduce its carbon footprint and act on climate change, both locally and globally. That's where Loyola's Climate Action Plan comes in, serving as a roadmap for the University. The Climate Action Plan is complemented by Loyola's Energy Management Policy, which outlines campus-wide guidelines to reduce energy use.

Loyola is excited to take a leadership role in the fight against climate change and offer the opportunity for our community to reduce our carbon footprint and support renewable energy projects.

Sustainability initiatives cover a range of areas, including the Goodstuff Campaign, energy efficiency upgrades, native landscaping, and a newly launched Choose to Reuse reusable to-go container program through dining services; and waste reduction and recycling. Most recently, the University signed a second 25-year renewable energy agreement with Maryland-based Chaberton Energy Holdings to support clean energy development in the State of Maryland.

"This is an important step toward moving our campus and our community toward sustainability," says Helen Schneider, associate vice president for facilities and risk management. "Loyola is excited to take a leadership role in the fight against climate change and offer the opportunity for our community to reduce our carbon footprint and support renewable energy projects."

An Accredited Arboretum

Many people are not aware that Loyola's 80-acre Evergreen campus features an arboretum—a space that embraces biodiversity while inspiring environmental stewardship. Encompassing more than 2,200 trees that represent at least 114 varieties, the University's arboretum achieved a coveted level II accreditation in 2019 from ArbNet for its expansion efforts and enhanced preservation.

Loyola was named a 2020 and 2021 Tree Campus Higher Education institution by the Arbor Day Foundation for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

Innovation and Sustainability

When Loyola planned and designed the new Miguel B. Fernandez Family Center for Innovation and Collaborative Learning, it was meant to serve as a new model for green buildings on campus.

With a green roof and features that support energy efficiency and water conservation, the Fernandez Center opened in fall 2021. Since then, it has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification, notably becoming the first LEED-certified building on campus.

"This building is part of a long-term strategy to reduce our carbon footprint and engage our community in action on climate change," says Meredith Sullivan, director of project management. "We expect to leverage our experience at the Fernandez Center to pursue future green building initiatives on campus." With the University's new Green Building Policy, all new buildings and major renovation projects at Loyola will be built with the goal of achieving a LEED Gold rating going forward.

Fresh Produce for the Community

For more than a decade, Loyola's York Road Initiative has been a sponsor of the Govanstowne Farmers' Market, which provides the University's neighbors in the York Road corridor of Baltimore City with produce that is affordable, fresh, and local. The farmers' market helps alleviate food insecurity and build community while promoting sustainability and supporting farm-to-table agricultural practices and the local food economy.

Containers of peppers and other produce sit on a table with a blue checkerboard tablecloth
Loyola sponsors the Govanstowne Farmers’ Market to help provide the area with affordable and fresh produce.
Our mission is to provide a beautiful and sustainable environment for Loyola students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

—Helen Schneider, associate vice president for facilities and risk management

Beyond the Farmers' Market, the York Road Initiative has continued to expand its food equity programs. FreshCrate is a healthy corner store initiative that partners with Loyola's Parkhurst Dining and four independent corner stores on York Road for competitively priced produce to address year-round food insecurity.

Seeking More Opportunities

As Loyola marks its 170th year, the University is more committed than ever to education surrounding and actionable measures toward sustainability. Loyola is launching working groups to implement sustainability efforts across campus, conducting its first Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) report to assess University progress, and further supporting solar energy development through a second power purchase agreement with Chaberton.

"As a justice-driven, Jesuit institution, Loyola embraces our social responsibility to help shape a sustainable future for all and is committed to making the strategic investments necessary to act on climate change," says John C. Coppola, '99, MBA '00, vice president for finance and administration/treasurer. "With our systematic approach to sustainability, the Loyola community can tackle our world's most pressing problems and ensure a better, more equitable world for future generations."

Lede photo by Louis Umerlik, ’96.