Campus Sustainability

Welcome to the USF Sustainability website. Here you will find several resources that outline USF’s commitment to maintaining and fostering a green campus, tips for living a sustainable lifestyle, and the resources that are available here on campus.

As an expression of our Catholic Franciscan Identity, the University of St. Francis community demonstrates respect for all creation by being responsible and ethical stewards of God’s resources, meeting current needs without sacrificing the survival, health and success of future generations and by advocating on behalf of the underserved in our world. Affirming our commitment to ensure all of God’s creation is used and sustained in manners that safeguard the health and survival of God’s gifts, the University will:

  1. Ensure graduates will have a mindset of sustainability by incorporating environment, ethical, social and economic impacts in the University-wide education programs and experiential learning opportunities Greening, a philosophy rooted in Catholic Franciscanism, is a philosophy for life. The ultimate goal of Greening of the Campus is to cultivate among students, faculty, and staff a humble recognition that God made humanity the steward of creation, with personal responsibility for the care and survival of all. Such an understanding of the environment necessitates lifelong respect and care that may be carried on with individuals as they move into other communities.
  2. Model sustainability in all aspects of institutional functions, including planning, operations, purchasing, and maintenance and will both collaborate with as well as contribute leadership and expertise to local and regional community environmental efforts.
  3. Establish a system to monitor and assess practices to reduce the consumption of materials and energy as well as the emission of pollutants without adversely impacting the quality of education, scholarly work, and services provided.

aashe logoUSF is Committed!

USF recently became a member of Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). It is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. To further its mission of empowering higher education to lead the sustainability transformation, AASHE provides resources, professional development, and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model sustainability in all areas, from governance and operations to education and research.

In the pursuit of sustainable development, the university is also committed to adapting and reusing buildings. Bypassing the sometimes wasteful process of demolition and reconstruction alone makes adaptive reuse an attractive option for the future.

Thank you for committing to minimize resource use in our shared workplaces! With your help, we can live out our Catholic Franciscan value of caring for creation by using less materials, producing less waste, and ensuring the well-being of all in our community, especially the undeserved population. The USF Sustainability Committee recognizes the efforts of staff and faculty in their commitment to a sustainable future. The Community Sustainability Promise program offers all interested individuals an opportunity to partner in the stewardship of creation.

Student Sustainability Promise

The Sustainability Committee is working towards having 100% of the on-campus undergraduate students sign the sustainability promise. As of October 2018, 296 current students (21.4% of the undergraduate population) have signed the promise. This is up from October 2017 when 165 students (13.4%) had signed the promise.

  • Stay on campus between classes and carpool if possible.
  • Utilize public transportation or the USF shuttle when able to do so.
  • Use reusable drinkware and food containers as often as possible to eliminate single use containers.
  • Order your food “for here” to receive a green basket or black tray in the Three Oaks Bistro or Bernie’s Pub.
  • Type notes on a laptop or tablet rather than using a notebook. If a notebook must be used, recycle the paper inside when finished rather than throwing away.
  • Only print documents if necessary and print two-sided.
  • Recycle right and recycle often. Make sure any item being recycled is clean and dry.
  • Take cooler and shorter showers.
  • Turn off computers and monitors when finished. Use a power strip to shut off power to devices when not needed.
  • Use as much natural light as possible to eliminate the need to turn on as many lights.

Employee Community Sustainability Promise: Online Format 

Sustainability Handbook

USF’s students have an important role in keeping the campus green as well. In this Student Handbook, written by the USF student body, several suggestions for conservation can be found. All are easy to integrate into busy schedules and cost very little.

  • Bob Barwa, College of Education
  • Clarissa Barkley, Enactus Member
  • Bill Bromer, College of Arts and Sciences, Natural and Health Sciences
  • Caleb Campbell, VP of Sustainability for SGA
  • Jessica Conte, Marketing Project Manager
  • Joseph Ferrallo, College of Business & Health Administration
  • Andrew Finein, Graduate Assistant
  • Don Fisher, Construction and Grounds
  • Janine Hicks, Sustainability Coordinator
  • Myra Limon, Council for Environmental Awareness Club
  • Denise Milewski, Council for Environmental Awareness Club President
  • Bob Murnick, Maintenance
  • Lynnann Murphy, Leach College of Nursing
  • Anna Perry, Operations Project Coordinator
  • Jim Phillip, Sodexo
  • Jodi Schager, Finance
  • Gina Stevens, Information Technology, Beekeeper
  • Gino Vaccarella, Graduate Admissions Counselor
  • Ruth Weldon, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Samantha Whiteaker, Leach College of Nursing
  • Michelle Zurawik, Student

We encourage the USF community to make all events as sustainable as possible. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the Student Government Association (SGA) passed legislation requiring every club to host at least one green event per year. In order for the event to be counted as a “green event” a handful of requirements from a list of possibilities must be met. These requirements include publicizing the event digitally and via word of mouth rather than by fliers, utilizing reusable water bottles instead of single-use bottles, or holding the event in an area with low energy expenditure (such as outdoors or only using some of the lights in a room).

Council of Environmental Awareness

The Council of Environmental Awareness (CEA) is a student-run club whose purpose is to provide students the opportunity to participate in university and environment-related activities. CEA gets students involved in making changes to protect the environment and be more sustainable. Activities and projects include measuring waste in the Terrace Café, doing a river cleanup at Rock Run Rookery, a camping trip at Channahon State Park, day trips to Starved Rock State Park, hosting an event where students get to make their own sustainable earrings, and growing plants to sell at Bluestem Earth Festival. During Green Week, CEA hosts a series of events including DIY bird feeders, a plarn party, a “101 Ways to Go Green” raffle, and an animal showing by Big Run Wolf Ranch.

Upcoming Events

No events are currently scheduled; check back soon!


  • USF Hosts Office Supply Swap: The University of St. Francis held its first ever office supply swap on October 17. The event encouraged administrative offices and faculty to bring their unwanted office supplies so other departments across campus could pick out supplies they needed. Any items that were not taken were later donated to Our Lady of Angels and ShareFest. This event diverted what would have been several garbage bags of office supplies away from the landfill. The University plans on hosting the event once or twice per year to encourage repurposing unwanted supplies. (October 2018)
  • f

    First USF Community Garden Sees Great Success: The first ever community garden at the University of St. Francis was a huge hit among the USF community. A proposal was passed in early 2018 to utilize a small plot of land located behind Assembly Hall at the St. Clare campus to grow vegetables for the USF community. Lead by two USF employees, the land was quickly prepped and seeds were planted in spring 2018. Come summer, the garden produced large tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers, among other vegetables. The produce was set out in baskets at the security desk at three campuses free of charge to the USF community, but donations were accepted. The initial cost of starting the garden was covered by the sustainability committee, but enough donations were collected to be self-sufficient. (September 2018)

  • butterfly gardenBee and Butterfly Garden Gets Certified as Monarch Waystation:
    The recently expanded bee and butterfly garden located in the Quad at the University of St. Francis has become a certified Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch. These Monarch Waystations play as critical role in sustaining the monarch butterfly population by providing the necessary resources for them to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Plants found in the garden include black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, cleome, purple coneflower, and coreopsis among other types. You can learn more about Monarch Waystations and see a map of certified locations near you on the Monarch Waystation website. (May 2018)
  • Fr. John Dear Speaks at USF: Nobel Peace Prize nominee Fr. John Dear spoke on April 5 at the University of St. Francis about his new book, “They Will Inherit the Earth: Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of Climate Change.” Speaking from biblical references and personal experiences, Dear spoke about reverting back to ways of nonviolence as a way of life and living peacefully with all of creation. Click here for Facebook photos from this event. (April 2018)
  • LaVerne & Dorothy Brown Science Hall Opens: The first building to be built on campus in over 30 years opened its doors to students for the spring 2018 semester. The LaVerne and Dorothy Brown Science Hall was built to meet LEED Gold standards meaning it is the most environmentally friendly building on campus. Above the Banks-Bellah Lecture hall is a green roof which is designed to not only reduce the amount of runoff storm water, but to help control heating and cooling costs too. The walls of the building are also highly insulated to help regulate the temperature of the building. Low-e windows are used for all exterior windows to help insulate the building further. The southeast corner of the building which has entire walls made from windows is made from low-e, fritted glass, further reducing the amount of heat from the sun that can enter the building. All LED lights are installed in the building, reducing the amount of heat produced and energy required. Additionally, there are occupancy sensors located in all offices, classrooms and hallways that will turn off the lights if no motion is detected over a predetermined amount of time. The building officially opened in a February 8 grand opening and dedication ceremony. (Feb. 2018)
  • student with plarn ballsStudent EcoLeader Finds Second Life for Plastic Bags: USF alumna Grace Ball ’17 was the driving force behind a recent initiative on campus to divert plastic bags away from the landfill while also helping the homeless community. Ball got the campus community involved with cutting up and tying together plastic bags to make plastic yarn, also known as plarn. By the end of the semester, Ball had accumulated over 40 balls of plarn from approximately 3,500 plastic bags. The plarn balls were donated to a non-profit organization in Plainfield called New Life for Old Bags, which will crochet the bags into mats for the homeless. (June 2017)
  • USF Continues Environmental Commitment: USF continued its commitment to the environment by installing a bee hive on campus in late April of 2017 and hosting the BlueStem Earth Festival the following month. According to Dr. Brian Moskalik, assistant professor of biology, the bees and their hive will be utilized for projects in all areas of the natural sciences. USF also welcomed the fourth annual BlueStem Earth Festival to campus on Saturday, May 20, 2017. (May 2017)
  • USF Awarded Joliet’s Historic Preservation Award: USF was awarded with the City of Joliet’s 12thannual Joliet Historic Preservation Award at a city council meeting on May 16, 2017. The university was honored for renovations made at the St. Clare Campus, 1550 Plainfield Rd., Joliet. Guardian Angel Hall, the main building on the St. Clare Campus, was previously known in Joliet as the “Guardian Angel Home.” (May 2017)
  • USF Students Trained To Do Water Audits: Students from USF and Joliet Junior College received training from the Illinois Sustainability Center on Feb. 10 (photo at right). The training was sponsored by the South Metropolitan Regional Higher Education Consortium. USF students will now conduct a water audit of several USF buildings to determine cost saving measures. (Feb. 2017)
  • USF Announces Support of Clean Power Plan: USF will support the Clean Power Plan (CPP) as organized by the Catholic Climate Covenant. The Covenant, established in 2006 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), addresses growing ecological awareness and inspires and equips people and institutions to care for both creation and the poor. USF President Arvid C. Johnson joined 125 U.S. Catholic leaders in signing a letter urging the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, President Trump, Congressional leaders and state governors to adopt the CPP. (Feb. 2017)
  • USF to Participate in Northern Illinois Food Bank Food Recovery Program: USF is now participating in a food recovery program with assistance from Northern Illinois Food Bank. To begin, Sodexo (USF’s food provider) met with the students from the Enactus club on campus. That meeting was followed up by another one with Colin Mossup from Northern Illinois Food Bank, who was able to coordinate the weekly pickup with the local recipient: Daybreak Center homeless Shelter in Joliet. Says Janine Hicks of the USF Sustainability Committee, “It’s important to note that careful thought goes into our daily food production and we are only donating product that we cannot use at the university. If we all reduced food waste by 15% it would help cut hunger in half!” (Jan. 2017)
  • Students Selected for SMHEC EcoLeaders Summit: Grace Ball, Cathy Gende and Taylor Ranney (pictured at right) attended the South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium’s sixth annual Student Sustainability Summit: “Becoming EcoLeaders.” The summit is an exciting event for a very select group of students who are interested in growing their career potential through sustainability-related projects. Students who attend receive a professional and nationally-recognized certification. SMHEC has partnered with the National Wildlife Federation and its existing EcoLeader program to offer training and development on student projects. The summit equips students with leadership skills, project development and management strategies and a plan for implementation when projects are complete. Gende and Ranney, who are both studying environmental science and biology, are focusing on a water usage study to be implemented next semester. Ball is designing a project for the reuse of plastic bags and studies recreation and sport management. (Oct. 2016)
  • USF Adopts Document Imaging System (Sept. 2011)

Sodexo at the University of St. Francis is committed to being sustainable through their vendors, equipment used, what is done with leftover food, and more! You can read an overview of what Sodexo is doing specifically at USF here. For a company-wide approach, you can view the corporate website here.

Will County Residents

Visit for a comprehensive listing of Will County recycling guidelines, drop-off and recycling event locations, and more!

Will County Electronics Recycling

There are four Will County drop-off options for electronics. All drop-off centers restrict vehicles to two TVs each. A valid ID or current USF student ID is required for proof of residency. Visit for additional information:

  • Lockport Public Works, 17112 Prime Blvd., drop-off from 6 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays.
  • Peotone Police Dept., 208 E. Main St., drop-off from 5 to 7 p.m. first and third Wednesdays of the month.
  • New Lenox Township, 1100 S. Cedar Road, drop-off from 5 to 7 p.m. second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.
  • Romeoville Public Works, 615 Anderson Drive, drop off from 5 to 7 p.m. first and third Tuesdays of the month

How Colleges and Their Students Are Boosting Sustainability has created a new guide that makes going green on campus fun. Click here for a quick quiz and clever tips that will help students find new ways to help the environment.

Other Links


The University of St. Francis takes pride in the landscaping around campus, especially when it comes to the plants. The landscaping not only fills campus with color, it also supports the local bee and butterfly population. Read below for information on the various plants around campus. The University of St. Francis Office of Sustainability also developed a campus map indicating what types of plants can be found around campus, which can be viewed at the bottom of this webpage.

landscaping photoCircle Drive (Corner of Wilcox and Taylor): Here visitors can find a variety of grasses and phlox. The perennial phlox plant provides a variety of color that last a majority of the warmer months.

Security Entrance (Taylor Street): Autumn Joy Sedum and catmint welcome visitors walking into the security entrance of Tower Hall along Taylor Street. These perennial plants provide beautiful colors that change depending on the season. Autumn Joy Sedum starts off as pink but then changes into a copper color in the fall. The Autumn Joy Sedum also attracts butterflies, adding to the beauty of these flowers.

Donovan Hall: Hydrangea is planted on both sides of the stairway leading into the south side of Donovan Hall. These perennial plants provide a variety of color that will provide long-lasting color all season.

Welcome Center: Visitors to the University’s Welcome Center and motorist traveling down route 30 are welcomed by the colorful landscaping around Parking Lot E. Black-eyed Susan provides a nice balance of yellow within the purple from the purple coneflower and catmint. These beautiful perennials keep the same great color coming back year after year. In the middle of the parking lot is a retention pond which is home to dwarf cattail.

sustainability courtyard

Maintenance: At the southwest corner of the maintenance area there is a variety of plants including catmint, cleome, phlox and zinnia. Cleome is in bloom nearly all summer and fall until the first frost, and is easily able to withstand the summer heat in direct sunlight.

Bee and Butterfly Garden: The bee and butterfly garden was expanded at the beginning of the 2018 season, doubling the size of it. The garden has the most diverse plant population, all of which were selected to support the local bee and butterfly populations. Black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, cleome, milkweed, coreopsis, flowering lilac tree, geranium, hollyhock, knockout roses, lavender liatris, pink petunias, purple coneflower, rose of Sharon, sunflower, yarrow, and zinnia are just some of the plants that can be found in this area. In May 2018, this garden was certified as a Monarch Waystation, meaning the University of St. Francis has taken appropriate steps to support the rapidly declining population of monarch butterflies and have created a habitat for them to survive in.

Grotto: As the USF community and visitors walk pass by the grotto on the Quad, they will be surrounded by colorful landscaping. A variety of annuals and perennials including cleome, marigold, new guinea impatiens, phlox and wax begonia provide a wide assortment of colors.

sustainability st albert's gardenGreenhouse: Students in the natural sciences department planted a variety of perennials by the greenhouse several years ago that provide a nice welcome while entering St. Albert Hall and the Green house. These plants include ironweed, Ohio spiderwort, bee balm, purple coneflower, evening primrose, rattlesnake master and partridge pea.

Science Hall: Although flowers have not yet been planted around the science hall, a number of trees and bushes were planted in Spring 2018 including autumn brilliance serviceberry, bur oak, dwarf Korean lilac, eastern redbud, hydrangea, Kentucky coffeetree, royal raindrops crab, and swamp white oak. In all, over 20 trees were planted around the new LaVerne & Dorothy Brown Science Hall.

campus plant map

A few years ago, a beautiful and sustainable parking lot was installed in front of the Motherhouse Welcome Center.

In the spring 2018 semester, University of St. Francis continued to show a strong desire to bring the topic of sustainability even closer to its student body by opening the LaVerne & Dorothy Brown Science Hall. The science hall was designed to meet LEED Gold standards and features nine laboratories used by science majors. It is quickly becoming the university’s beacon for the promotion of sustainability and environmental architectural advances.

The second floor features a 125-square-foot green roof, giving students opportunities to learn about and experiment with growing different plants. The green roof serves as insulation for the building, while also collecting rain water. The roof includes a patio area that serves as a social space for students as well as a space for formal receptions and meetings.

The chart at right shows all of the vegetated roof plantings that will be placed on the green roof in areas noted on the above rendering of the space. Many species of plants with distinguished colors and textures will be planted– a mixture that will be quite beautiful in all seasons.

Additional sustainable features of the building include low-e and fritted windows, low flow water fixtures, motion occupancy sensors, and all LED lighting.

One way that everyone can help USF become a more sustainable campus is by recycling. Recycling bins are located in every classroom, throughout the hallways, in the residence halls, an in every gathering/meeting room. Although our recycling collection companies collect single-stream recycling, in fall 2018 the Office of Campus Sustainability pushed the USF community to start sorting their recycling. This came as a direct result of China no longer accepting recycling from the U.S. With this ban in place, recycling companies have become stricter with their regulations. By separating recycling at the collection points, it reduces the amount of contamination entering the bin. If the bin is contaminated, it must be thrown away.

Paper Recycling 
The paper recycling bins are for mixed paper, junk mail, magazines, and small flattened cardboard boxes. Oversize cardboard boxes should be flattened and placed next to the bin. When placing items into this bin, make sure they are clean and dry. Items that should not be recycled include paper towels, pizza boxes, food to-go containers, paper cups, and bathroom tissue. Remember, if in doubt, throw it out.

Can & Bottle Recycling 
The can and bottle recycling bins are for steel, tin, and aluminum cans and plastic bottles (#1-5 & 7). All items should be clean and dry of any liquids and food. By dumping liquids or foods into this bin, all the contents will have to be disposed of in the trash. Glass jars can only be recycled on the main campus. DO NOT place the following items into the can and bottle recycling bins: #6 plastic, Styrofoam, plastic food containers, and plastic films or wraps. Remember, if in doubt, throw it out.

Miscellaneous Recycling
Although not collected in bins around campus, the maintenance department will recycle many other items including ink and toner cartridges of all sizes, any type of battery, fluorescent and CFL light bulbs, and scrap metal. To recycle these materials, students and employees should take them to the maintenance garage located along Plainfield Road next to the Motherhouse. Resident students wishing to recycle electronic items are welcome to utilize the Will Country Green drop off events. All the resident student needs to do is show their USF student ID card to prove student status.

Do You Know What Your Community Recycles?
Although similar from town-to-town, your curb-side recycling program might accept different materials from a neighboring town, depending on the company providing the service. Click below to view recycling guidelines in local curbside programs:

Recycling Cheat Sheet

Recycle these… Glass and Plastic Bottles | Aluminum and Tin Cans | Cardboard Boxes (must be broken down) | White and Colored Paper | Books (hard and soft covered books) | Magazines and Junk Mail Envelopes | Brochures & Pamphlets | Coated Paper (shiny) | Computer Printouts | Carbonless Receipts | Post-It Notes | Manuals with Glue Bindings | File Folders (with metal hangers) | File Folders (with plastic tabs) | Wire & Plastic Spirals | Staples, Paper Clips and Clamps | Rechargeable and Non-Rechargeable Batteries |
Computer Batteries | Cell Phones | Calculators | Clothing, Shoes, Textiles, Linens, Fabrics etc. | MP3 Players | Cameras | Ink/Laser Printer Cartridges

Trash these…
Candy Wrappers | Carbon Paper | Carpet or Cloth | Glass (if not a bottle or jar) | Food soiled cardboard | Food or any Organic Waste |
Liquids | Plastic Bags and Saran Wrap | Plastics (if they’re not a bottle) | Plates or Dishes | Styrofoam | Used Paper Cups and Paper Plates |
Used Paper Towels | Used Tissues | Waxed Cardboard (milk) | Waxed Paper | Wet or Soiled paper | Window Glass