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Sustainability is a long-term responsibility to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. The environment has a limit and it must be respected and embraced.

Here at St. John's our Sustainability Coordinators work together to promote a more sustainable campus.

NYC Carbon Challenge

SJU is planning the next phase of deeper carbon emission reductions through energy master planning.PlaNYC Because SJU has “leader” status in a New York State program entitled Reforming The Energy Vision (REV) Campus Challenge, SJU has received a $150,000 grant in NYSERDA's Roadmaps Technical Assistance program. Under the program, SJU has partner with an energy consultant to gain greater understanding of campus energy usage, culminating in the development of a comprehensive plan or roadmap for managing and reducing campus energy consumption. More information can be found at REV Campus Challenge Technical Assistance for Roadmaps.

A trailer video for SJU’s Energy Master Plan can be viewed here. 


Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS)

STARS developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS ratings last three years. As a Charter Participant in STARS, SJU achieved STARS Silver rating in 2011 and upgrades to Gold rating in 2012. In March 2016, SJU submitted for Gold.

Categories of the STARS 2.0 Technical Manual

  • Curriculum
  • Research
  • Air and Climate
  • Buildings
  • Dining Services
  • Energy
  • Grounds
  • Purchasing
  • Transportation
  • Waste
  • Water
  • Campus Engagement
  • Public Engagement
Planning and Administration
  • Coordination, Planning and Governance
  • Diversity and Affordability
  • Health, Wellbeing, and Work
  • Investment
  • Innovation

Student Residence Life Involvement

Office of Sustainability partners with Residence Life to engage students in their dorms to live more sustainability; i.e. Recycling enhancements and energy conservation via building dashboard. Events to engage are: Energy Reduction Tournament “Conserve to Serve”, Move-out Food & Clothing Collection, Earth Week, Train the Trainer program w/ RAs, Campus Sustainability Day, Battle of Buildings for Spirit, RecycleMania, Campaigns for Awareness and Involvement, Green-Handed Raffles and: Other.


Municipal Solid Waste & Recycling

SJU participates in RecycleMania, a spring semester, eight week nation-wide tournament involving over 400 schools. SJU reached a diversion rate of 50% for RecycleMania 2017 and achieved the RecycleMania’s national title in the Food Waste Reduction category for the Campus Engagement Case Study Competition. The RecycleMania Team writes “We want you to know that the most encouraging and exciting thing for us is to see the robust recycling program St. John’s has built to benefit the community environment and conserve resources from year to year”. At SJU recycling and food waste reduction is important and our efforts are on-going for continuous improvement. Campus efforts include implementation of Single Stream Recycling, enhancements to hardware (bins and signage), staff re-training and food waste recovery. Help change a culture of waste by making recycling and waste reduction a top priority.

Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN)

St. John’s participates in the annual Campus Conservation Nationals CCN competition, the largest nation-wide electricity reduction competition targeted at college / university residence halls and runs for three weeks each spring semester.

SJU employs Building Dashboard which allows students to view in real-time, the electrical energy consumption in residence halls. SJU’s “Conserve to Serve” campaign began in 2015 and each year, the electricity reduction efforts of CCN result in SJU energy dollars savings ($0.10 per Kwh) to help support St. John’s Bread & Life soup kitchen. The recent 2017 campaign resulted in 43,000 Kwh of electricity reduced in three weeks resulting in a donation of $4,300. See The Torch student newspaper article.

Student Sustainability Coordinators

Since 2008 SJU has maintained a team of student workers as Sustainability Coordinators. These students perform a variety of tasks from policing campus-wide recycling of municipal solid waste to running campaigns for student involvement in energy conservation. These workers perform daily collection of food waste to generate on-site composting, as well as maintain the organic garden and run numerous special events. 

EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) Program

SJU is a charter participant in EPA’s FRC which has three primary actions: Food waste prevention; Food recovery for donation and; Food waste composting. In its documentary video entitled Full Service Organics, SJU documents its on-going efforts of student engagement in fighting hunger and waste, and making compost from food waste. Breaking the title down the title: Full means all that can be; Service describes helping / improving both the campus and the community, and Organics in this context refers to food, a fact of life. This is one more example of students engaged in meaningful work and learning through service.

The Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA Program

SJU received Tree Campus USA participation awards for the past five years by meeting the program criteria of: Tree care committee; Tree care plan; Finding the tree care program; Incorporation of Academic Service Learning (ASL) and; Annual Arbor Day observance / event. The SJU Queens Campus has over 3,000 trees, 500 of which came from NYC Million Trees project (2008 – 2011). With faculty over site, in 2013 students planted a northeast native species campus arboretum around the softball field. Each year, SJU's Campus Tree Mapping Project grows with the help of students guided by dedicated faculty member Paula Lazrus. Currently there are over 1,000 trees mapped. You can view the progress of SJU’s Tree Mapping Project and view pages of its complementary Herbarium at:

Student Community Garden

The Student community garden is an organic vegetable garden built and maintained by student workers and the Student Earth Club. The garden consists of over fifty semi-raised planting beds with organic soils, automatic irrigation and central drainage system. Students harvest and deliver the vegetables to help support St. John’s Bread & Life soup kitchen in Brooklyn. Over 1,000 pounds of vegetables are harvested  annually.

On-Site Food Waste Compost System

SJU began composting food waste in 2009. In 2011, through the Office of Sustainability, student workers built a large-scale aerated static pile (ASP) three-bin composting facility. Each day during academic semesters, student workers pick up about 1,000 pounds of pre-consumer and post consumer food waste from five campus kitchens and, since 2106, all food waste is processed through a pulper machine. Each week, the pulped food waste is mixed with wood chips and loaded into one of three ASP (6-cubic yard) bins. After three weeks in the ASP followed by 10 weeks in winrow, the compost is then screened / finished and applied to the Campus grounds. Annually, SJU recovers about 42 tons of food waste and paper napkins for composting and mixes it with 12 tons of wood chips. Using EPA’s WARM Tool, the calculation shows about 16 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2 Eq) of avoided greenhouse gas emissions. In 2017 SJU was featured as a “best practice” in New York City’ Food Waste Fair and link to NYC’s Department of Sanitation video is

Compost Tea Brewing & Application

Compost made on-site is also used in compost tea brewing. After brewing the tea, organic solutions and minerals are added and the tea is applied /sprayed to the soils in Campus tree and shrub beds. Sju conducts compost tea brewing workshops in the spring and fall. These workshops presents a co-curricular opportunity for students and faculty to learn about composting, soil biology and the soil food web.   

Energy Efficiency Projects  

Following an Investment-grade Energy Audit conducted in 2009, SJU has invested $25 million in energy efficiency projects. Current annual reduction amounts to 5.5 million KWH and 727K therms of natural gas.

Currently, the annual $1.86 million savings in energy budget offsets the cost of debt for the project. 

Each year the Facilities Operations Budget funds numerous repair / replacement projects focused on mechanical and electrical  systems reliability and efficiency. The best example for 2016 is SJU’s upgrade to LED lighting whereby 50,000 lamps and light fixtures are being converted to LED. 

Outreach & Marketing

SJU engages and strives to partner with numerous organizations. Some of these are; NYC Carbon Challenge; NYS Association of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle; EPA; The Arbor Day Foundation; Association For the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE); Con Edison and; NYSDEC. On-campus, The Sustainability Office  most often communicates with Residence Life, Student Earth Club, Learning Communities, Academic Service Learning, Student Wellness, Campus Ministry, and Human Resources.

Comments are welcome, e-mail [email protected]

Newest Initiatives for 2016

  • The count is up to 30 water bottle filling stations installed around Queens Campus and 2 in SI Campus
  • Food waste pulper installed at Montgoris in efforts to double food waste composting by end of 2016
  • LED lighting being installed all over Queens Campus which will significantly lower electrical consumption
  • Building Dashboards are in place to view electrical consumption in real-time with focus on reduction


For more information on sustainability initiatives on campus send us an email or call the Sustainability Department at 718-990-5054.

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