Students in the stewardship garden

Sustainability

St. Thomas infuses sustainability into every aspect of campus life, from academic programs and student activities to facilities and dining operations. We are working as a community toward a goal of carbon neutrality by 2035, which is why St. Thomas' Board of Trustees approved a university commitment to divest our endowment from fossil fuels.

Our understanding of (and commitment to) sustainability is grounded in our identity as a Catholic university. Our plans embrace the principles of caring for creation, environmental stewardship, and advancing the common good on a shared planet.

Geology professor Lisa Lamb instructs members of the Sustainability Living Learning Community (LLC) during a soils lab at Hidden Falls Park.

Academics

By weaving sustainability throughout our curriculum, St. Thomas educates the next generation of morally responsible sustainability leaders. Here's how:

  • Sustainability minor available
  • Sustainability Scholars grants to support student-faculty research collaborations
  • 160 courses that address sustainability from over 80% of academic departments
  • Over 150 regional and on-campus sustainability projects in courses across 25 disciplines
  • Nearly 30% of our faculty members conduct research on global sustainability challenges
  • Study abroad through one of 50+ programs that focus on sustainability around the world

Student Engagement

Each year, students elect a sustainability representative to Undergraduate Student Government. Students also participate in a Sustainability Living Learning Community through Residence Life and lead multiple clubs to champion sustainability. Off campus, St. Thomas students engage in sustainability through a variety of ongoing initiatives.

chef looking at ingredients

Green Operations

Dining Services and Facilities Management are two key St. Thomas partners committed to advancing sustainability through greener procurement strategies, diversion of food waste, and ongoing education while partnering with all members of the campus community. Students are very engaged and often lead educational opportunities about waste reduction, recycling and composting. Ongoing efforts include:

  • Reducing plastic and single-use packaging
  • Expanding and advertising sustainable dining options and operations
  • Purchasing more local and sustainably-sourced food options
  • Providing compost collection in residence halls
  • Collecting batteries, electronics and plastic bags for recycling

Read More About Sustainable Dining Services

Learn About Recycling at St. Thomas

girls riding on bike

Sustainable Transportation

As a centrally located university, students and visitors can easily use mass transit or pedal power to get around campus. Initiatives include:

  • Discounted bus passes
  • Bike repair stations
  • Secure bike storage in residence halls and the Anderson Parking Facility
  • Electric vehicle charging stations

Campus Initiatives

pollinator path sign in garden

Pollinator Path

The Pollinator Path is a series of gardens, some planted to attract pollinators and some planted for aesthetic purposes. They provide critical food and habitats for a wide variety of pollinators and a "living laboratory" for students and the community to study pollinator activity and learn how to support declining pollinator populations.

Explore the Pollinator Path
student by microgrid on roof

Microgrid

St. Thomas has one of the only student-focused microgrid research facilities in the nation. Students help develop technology and are trained to shape the evolution of energy in the face of climate change.

Center for Microgrid Research
Students holding vegetables in the Stewardship Garden

Stewardship Garden

Located on the edge of campus, the Stewardship Garden was created to help create a more just and local food system. The project creates research and education opportunities in urban agriculture for students and helps build community relationships on campus and with neighborhood residents. A portion of the produce from the Stewardship Garden is donated to local food shelves.

Visit the Stewardship Garden
Frey Hall residence hall garden

Green Buildings

Designing new buildings for LEED certification is part of the university's larger plan to achieve carbon neutrality for 2035. The university is designing all new buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to a minimum of LEED silver standards. Frey Hall (featured here) became the first mid-rise building in Minnesota to receive LEED platinum certification.

LEED Certified Buildings

The Impact on Campus

34%

reduction in annual potable water use since 2014

93%

of office paper purchased in 2020 on TreeZero paper made from sugarcane waste fibers

100%

of expenditures on electronics for products that are EPEAT Gold registered

59%

waste diversion rate in 2019