Loyola University Chicago
Institute opens a new era of learning
The new Institute of Environmental Sustainability combines academics and research with sustainable agriculture and community living. And it does it all in one amazing facility. Visit the institute’s home page.
About the institute
Inside the building
The new institute is loaded with state-of-the-art technology to make it as energy efficient and forward thinking as possible. Click the arrows to open each panel and learn more about the building’s features; click again to close.
The soaring glass ceiling that wraps around the institute serves multiple purposes: It ventilates the building, collects rainwater, and provides plenty of natural light for the plants growing inside the Ecodome.
Rising hot air is drawn out of the top of the Ecodome while computer-controlled vents allow cooler air to enter the space from below. This helps air flow through the greenhouse without mechanical assistance.
The roof is designed to capture as much rainwater as possible and divert it into a 3,000-gallon cistern within the facility. This water is then reused for irrigation—and even to flush some of the toilets in the building.
The Ecodome is a functioning greenhouse and urban farm that also serves as a living, breathing laboratory for students and faculty. The glass roof helps everything grow by filling the space with natural light.
Loyola’s Biodiesel Program is the only school-based operation licensed to produce and sell biodiesel in the United States. It is run entirely by students (with the help of one staff member) and is financially self-sufficient.
How it works
At 500 feet below ground, the earth’s temperature remains about 58° year-round in Chicago. This constant temperature is at the core of the geothermal system that heats and cools the institute. The 91-well system—the largest of its kind in Chicago—is extremely efficient, cutting the building’s heating and cooling costs by 30 percent.
How it works
Aquaponics blends fish farming with soil-free agriculture to create a sustainable food production system. In the set-up at the institute, fish live in water tanks on the bottom level, while plants grow in trays on top.
How it works
The waste water from the fish tanks is pumped up to the growing beds (1), where the plants extract the nutrients they need (2). The water, now cleansed of toxins, is returned to the fish tanks (3)—and the entire process starts over (4). This “closed-loop system” requires only a small amount of electricity for the pump, a little food for the fish, and sunlight for the plants. Yet it can grow plenty of food—in the form of fresh produce and fish—to eat.