Loyola University Chicago

School of Environmental Sustainability


Mary Robinson's Keynote Address

Mary Robinson is president of the Mary Robinson Foundation: Climate Justice, and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate. She was the first female President of Ireland from 1990-1997, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002, and is now a member of The Elders and the Club of Madrid. She is also a member of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement.

In 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama, and between March 2013 and August 2014 she served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa.

A former president of the International Commission of Jurists and former chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, Robinson was founder and president of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, from 2002 to 2010. Robinson’s memoir, Everybody Matters, was published in 2012.

Caring for our Common Home

Feb 1, 2017  –  On occasion of the 2nd anniversary of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), over 30 leaders from our network gathered in the holy city of Assisi for 4 days of strategic planning and then traveled to Rome to meet Pope Francis. These were the words of gratitude and encouragement from the Holy Father in the public audience.

This inspiring papal message was widely covered by Vatican media, including a spotlight as a top story in the Vatican Radio homepage. Moreover, delegates from GCCM had the opportunity to greet the Holy Father and present him with a gift of ‘climate ribbon prayers’ that had been collected at last year’s World Youth Day in Krakow and the recent Assisi gathering.

Algae: Brewery Wastewater's Second Chance

No Impact Meal - A More Mindful Dinner

A group of four sustainability interns arrives at one of the Loyola University Chicago residence halls, with a rolling cart packed full of food and cooking supplies. The interns have hand-picked the freshest produce and products from the Rogers Park and Edgewater community. They waste no time and immediately begin cutting vegetables, and preparing quinoa. Residents slowly trickle in with the smell of free food but quickly release there's a larger mission behind the meal.

The No Impact Meal (NIM) program is transforming our relationship with food on campus, one meal at a time. Led by a group sustainability interns since the spring of 2015, the program prepares a local and sustainable meal in Loyola’s residence halls, which allows students to make a conscious connection to their food. “We want to teach students to rethink their eating habits, both in terms of how it affects our environment and our health,” said Shayna Milst, one of the four sustainability intern helping with No Impact Meals.  

NIM gives interns a platform to channel the goals and initiatives within SES to the greater Loyola community. Two to three times a semester, the interns coordinate with residence assistances to host a NIM event, where interns and residents prepare a meal together. Students learn about why buying local and seasonal food is healthier, and many find that it is easier than it seems. “It’s not something you think you would be able to do on this tight budget, living in the dorms, and being on a meal plan, but this program shows you how you can fix that,” said Anika Kroll, a freshman resident.

The core of the program stresses that changed eating habits can reduce one’s environmental impact. “Yes we want to emphasize eating healthy, but the program is also about no impact,” said Meghan Pazik, a sustainability intern. “It’s really about learning to reduce your carbon footprint on the environment as well.” NIM enables students and interns to engage in a thoughtful dialogue about the mileage and carbon intensity of certain foods. With food being the largest source of waste in the United States, and between 30 to 40 percent of food thrown away, NIM teaches students about composting to reduce waste.

However, the conversation doesn’t end when the meal is over. Office of Sustainability interns want to connect students to Loyola and surrounding Rogers Park. “It’s not only about building community with your food system, it’s also about building community with Loyola,” Pazik said. Loyola students can reduce their environmental impact by buying local at the Loyola’s farmers market. The Farmers Market will run every Monday through October 17, 2016. Other opportunities for students to make an impact include volunteering with Loyola’s urban agriculture or composting programs. 

If you are interested in learning more about No Impact Meals or planning one with your resident hall, please contact Aaron Durnbaugh at adurnbaugh@luc.edu

Stormwater Management

Performance at 2016 Climate Change Conference

A Conversation with Urban Agriculture Coordinator Kevin Erickson

Written by: Alex Schmidt '16

Learn how he’s grown the university’s Urban Agriculture Program from the ground up

Kevin Erickson starts his day by biking to work at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Environmental Sustainability (SES). His mornings are busy as he collaborates with Rogers Park community partners about sustainable agriculture ideas or assists with student projects in Loyola’s Ecodome. In the afternoon, he’ll oversee production of each of Loyola’s four garden sites on campus. And, during the summer he’s even more rushed as he helps his students harvest and sell the produce grown on the four garden sites he oversees at Loyola’s very own farmers market. On his way out, he’ll check on the Aquaponics system he helped create where fish waste is converted into nutrient-rich food, and grab any unsold produce for dinner. 

The growth of the Loyola’s Urban Agriculture Program 

 “There was a lot of opportunity coming to something new, and building a program from the ground up.” Since IES opened in 2013 (changed to SES in 2020), Erickson has overseen the Urban Agriculture Program as it has more than doubled the growing space of Winthrop Garden, expanded the Mertz and Quinlan rooftop gardens, established two bee colonies and implemented an Aquaponics systems for growing produce. Many of these projects have been accomplished with the help of students. In 2014, there were 400 Urban Agriculture Program volunteers, which meant Erickson and his team of interns organized a number of weekend and evening volunteer activities.

Erickson’s favorite part about his job is working with students. “My philosophy is to always engage the individual, find what interests them and connect that to what we are doing. They make me better at my job, and they make it fun to be at work.”

Loyola Senior and recipient of the President’s Medallion, Magdalena Nykaza, has found her niche with Erickson and the Urban Agriculture Program. She manages several of Loyola’s gardens on campus, helps with the Loyola Farmers Market and is the co-president of the urban agriculture student organization called Growers’ Guild.

“The Urban Agriculture Program gives students an opportunity to be part of the entire process of operations, including crop planning, maintaining the gardens and greenhouse, harvesting and selling the produce,” Nykaza said. “I’ve learned so much from Kevin. He emphasized things like attitude, flexibility and team work—things that apply to life beyond urban agriculture.”

The Loyola Ecodome has also allowed the Urban Agriculture Program to be successful. “In addition to different student projects, a lot of the seasonal plants get started in the green house and so do the farmers market plants.” Currently the Ecodome provides basil to Felice’s Pizza three times a week.  In 2014, the Lakeshore Gardens and the Ecodome produced 1,700 pounds of produce. Erickson is determined to increase production in years to come. “We may not see urban agriculture, it may be hidden from us in really small spaces or even private property,” he said, “but, we’re finding more and more that it is very much present and making a big impact.”

Under Erickson’s guidance, the Urban Agriculture Program has progressed quickly, but Erickson still has bigger goals for the program.  He’d like to increase food production and educate the community. “My vision for the future would be more production from our urban spaces, thus, increasing our ability to put healthy food into our community,” he said.

To learn more about Loyola’s Urban Agriculture Program, go here. Also, don’t forget to purchase the program’s fresh produce from Loyola’s Farmers Market, beginning June 6, 2016 and running through October 17, 2016.

Loyola's Edible Mushroom Project

By Alex Schmidt

Brendan Goodwin, a junior studying food systems and sustainable agriculture, and Chance Moore, a junior studying environmental science, met second semester of their freshman year in their STEP (Solutions to Environmental Problems) food systems class. More than a year later, Goodwin and Moore had created Loyola’s first edible mushroom project. “We’ve learned how to transform an idea into a reality,” Goodwin said.

Not only has the project furthered their understanding of sustainability, the mushroom project has successfully engaged the Loyola community.

When Goodwin and Moore began the project, they did not have any experience with mycology, which is the biological study of fungi. “The STEP class is structured so that you are going to class and also picking up a side-project to work on,” Moore said.  Through STEP, they wrote a 20-page project proposal and began growing baby Portobello mushrooms.

Goodwin and Moore explained that their process of growing involves mushrooms decomposing sawdust, straw, and woodchips. “This turns common waste products into edible mushrooms,” Goodwin said.

The work Goodwin and Moore completed in the STEP class prepared them to expand their project, and they applied to the Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) the following fall. “The class had limited funding, but the TGIF allowed us to put our project together on a much larger scale,” Moore said. They organized a mushroom tasting, a growing class, and a morel foraging trip with TGIF funding.

By engaging with the Loyola community, Goodwin and Moore said they have learned just as much themselves. “We’ve discovered that there are so many people that have diverse backgrounds at our school, who might have ties to mushrooms through their own culture,” Goodwin said.

As of this fall, they have partnered with LUC Urban Agriculture and are growing lion’s mane, shiitake, blue oyster, and wine cap mushrooms.  They've also created a Mycology club and want to further sustainability at Loyola. “Once we can establish a bulk system of growing, maybe the mushrooms can be sold and used in the dining hall and we can research the health properties of mushrooms.”

Moore added that he would like to see more people get involved in the mycology club in the future, while Goodwin is considering a career in mushroom food systems. Both said that their ultimate goal would be the creation of a mycology department at Loyola. 

A Sustainable Solution

See how Loyola’s Farmers Market blends sustainability, social justice.

Student Operation for Avian Relief (SOAR)

IES Time Lapse

The School of Environmental Sustainability combines academic, residential and research spaces in one innovative new facility.

Growing Food at Loyola

School of Environmental Sustainability

Nancy Tuchman, PhD, founding director of the School of Environmental Sustainability, introduces the new institute and exciting programs taking shape at Loyola University Chicago.

SES summer courses at LUREC

This summer, take a course in Loyola's "wilderness classroom" at the Retreat and Ecology Campus and get hands-on experience in ecology, restoration and sustainability. 

Conservation of Neotropical Ecosystems

See the experience of the Study Abroad course in Belize.

Invasives to Energy Webinar Presentation

What: Webinar Presentation to Stewardship Action Council

Topic: Loyola’s Invasives to Energy Project

When: February 28, 2014 at 1:00-2:00PM (CST)

30 Minute Presentation

30 Minutes of Q&A and Discussion

Loyola University Chicago’s School of Environmental Sustainability has initiated the Invasives to Energy project, which aims to develop financial incentives for private organizations actively managing invasive species. Invasive species are responsible for widespread ecosystem degradation and biodiversity losses that cause economic harm to society. Yet, management efforts are severely hampered by insufficient and inconsistent funding. We see an opportunity to pair private biomass energy production from invasive plants with government funded ecological restoration activities. Switching from controlled burning and herbiciding, currently the most widely used methods, to biomass harvesting restoration could allow eco-restoration to generate revenue and offset costs for the first time. Harvested biomass can be utilized as a carbon neutral energy source, primarily as high-density pellets for home heating and power production, with the potential for reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants. With funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency, we will pilot our innovative business model over the next two years while continuing to determine the feasibility of utilizing a variety of invasive species for bio-energy. We look forward to presenting the details of this project and discussing potential partnership opportunities. 

Growing Food at Loyola

Composting at Loyola University Chicago

Composting is an essential part of living a sustainable life, and here is why you should do it.

The Importance of Bird Watching

Loyola University Chicago graduate student Amaechi Ugwu created this short documentary for the final project of his film class about Fr. Mitten's interest in bird conservation.

Tap Water Challenge

As part of our civic engagement project we decided to conduct our own Tap Water Challenge which encourages participants to try and taste the difference between tap and bottled water.

Office of Sustainability

A quick animated video showing the value of Loyola's sustainability efforts.

University Sustainability

What is unique about the program we have here at Loyola is that we're in a very urban environment, we have an urban campus and yet we're doing very progressive environmental activities on campus that are significantly lowering our carbon footprint.

Ecological Laboratory

At Loyola's Retreat & Ecology Campus, students can take an ecology laboratory course and experience nature as their classroom.

Sowing the Seeds of Change

The School of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University Chicago combines academics and research with sustainable agriculture and community living. And it does it all in one amazing facility.

Caring for our Common Home