Sustainability at Roosevelt University is a constantly evolving and dynamic process grounded in the "Three Es" of Environment, Economy, and Equity. RU's sustainability efforts encompass the greening of buildings and campus operations; innovation and expansion of sustainability education and research opportunities for students, faculty, and staff; and the promotion of social and environmental justice within and beyond our campus. As noted by President Ali Malekzadeh in his letter introducing Roosevelt's first STARS report in December 2015, "The task of envisioning and creating a truly sustainable world is immense and complex. Colleges and universities are not only well suited to engage in this important work through innovation, education, and community engagement, they are obliged to do so." Roosevelt's presence in downtown Chicago and suburban Schaumburg, and its historic mission of advancing social justice and cultivating progressive leadership in its home bioregion of Chicagoland, inspire us to make every facet of our institution as sustainable as possible as well as contribute to the sustainable development of our home communities through leadership, innovation, and outreach.
Since 2010, Roosevelt University has made significant progress toward its goal of being at the forefront of sustainable practices as an institution and university community. A few of these achievements, so far, include:
During the 2014-15 academic year, the University codified its sustainability efforts by developing a measurable Five-year Strategic Sustainability Plan which features attainable goals based on the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's STARS 2.0 assessment system and tied to the University’s Institutional Strategic Plan. By integrating sustainable actions into RU's educational mission, campus activities, and community relationships, the university is embracing a leadership role as a sustainable urban university.
The Plan provides a comprehensive overview of RU's sustainability efforts to date and articulates high-priority and measurable goals in four key areas: Climate and Energy; Education and Outreach; Waste and Natural Resources; and Economics and Governance. These goals are consonant with Roosevelt’s social justice mission and include commitments to reduce GHG emissions, improve energy efficiency, reduce waste through recycling and composting, conserve water, enhance biodiversity, provide diverse sustainability education pathways and opportunities, foster sustainability research and pedagogy, and engage the campus and public communities.
The university's efforts at working toward these goals thus far were assessed in December 2015 through AASHE's Sustainability Tracking and Assessment System (STARS), proudly earning our institution a Bronze rating. Read more about the formation of RU’s STARS team and the submission process in this Green Campus blog post, and access our full STARS report here, on the AASHE website.
Additionally, progress of our plan’s goals were first assessed and documented by Campus Planning and Operations in this report at the beginning of 2016. The report also includes various other initiatives and endeavors that branch outside of and beyond the plan.
We invite you to read this interactive version of the Plan (pdf), get involved in Roosevelt's effort to become a more sustainable university, and share your talents and ideas!
In December of 2015 the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) recognized Roosevelt as a Bronze Level through their Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Reporting System (STARS). The endeavor to report to STARS came out of RU's 5-Year Strategic Sustainability Plan and was initially undertaken by the first class running of SUST 390: The Sustainable Campus. A core group then worked on final data gathering for the submission.
In September 2014, the University earned Arboretum status from the Morton Arboretum. Boy Scout Troop #392, along with Sustainability interns, have identified and inventoried all trees on campus. In the summer of 2015, the process of tagging the trees, to clearly identify the more than 25 tree and woody shrub types on the Schaumburg campus, began.
The Schaumburg campus is surrounded by shopping malls and commercial buildings, which are unfriendly to wildlife. Roosevelt’s green campus, on the other hand, is literally bursting with life. It serves as an important oasis for migrating birds, monarch butterflies, insects and animals of all types. By providing food, water, cover and places for wildlife to raise their young, Roosevelt University’s tall grass prairie has earned recognition from the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat.
Roosevelt’s Schaumburg Campus meets stringent requirements for native plants, water conservation and wildlife benefit. Water is managed to reduce runoff, erosion and pollutants. Through those endeavors, RU was named the “Conservation@Work” Recipient in 2012, by the Conservation Foundation.
In 2014, Roosevelt University’s Wabash Building was honored with the FIABCI U.S. Chapter Grand Prix of Real Estate Award. “The Grand Prix of Real Estate recognizes the project that best embodies excellence in all the real estate disciplines involved in its creation.” The vertical Wabash Building is mixed-use and includes offices, classrooms, labs, administrative and faculty offices, a dining center, workout facility, and resident housing. The building “embodies the University’s commitment to Social Justice and Civic Engagement.”
A few steps up from the Grand Prix of Real Estate Award, Roosevelt’s Wabash Building earned the Gold Prix d’ Excellence Award in 2015 from the FIABCI International Real Estate Federation. According to FIABCI International Real Estate Federation, “The Wabash Building enhances Chicago’s diverse community while providing a healthier environment to live, work and learn.”
First recognized with Bronze status in 2012, by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the state’s Green Government Coordinating Council, Roosevelt University was one of the first 21 higher-education institutions in Illinois to be honored in recognition of its leadership in college-campus sustainability. Roosevelt achieved Gold status in December 2014.
Roosevelt University has been recognized by the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC) as a Gold Partner by “demonstrating the highest level of commitment to food scrap diversion by composting both pre- and post-consumer food scrap.”
In the spring of 2016, Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg Campus was recognized as a Monarch Waystation. This certification speaks to RU’s dedication in creating and maintaining a healthy and diverse environment for the RU community and biotic community. The main requirement for this recognition is to have milkweed present, and the Schaumburg Campus provides plenty of milkweed on the grounds, as well as a butterfly garden.
Roosevelt has been recognized in the Princeton Annual Review: "Guide to Green Colleges" in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2015, 2,000 colleges and universities were reviewed, and RU was 1 out of 353 higher education institutions selected for this honor.
In 2013, the Wabash Building was certified by the Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities (SERF), which provides an affordable, streamlined and accessible path to green building certification. Joe Maguire, President and co-founder of SERF, stated “The vertical campus provides the Chicago skyline with both environmental sustainability as well as practical institutional resources.”
Roosevelt's Schaumburg Campus has been acknowledged, by the National Arbor Foundation and State of Illinois Department of Natural Resources, as a Tree Campus USA in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. The designation was earned through active stewardship of trees on the Schaumburg Campus and by adhering to ANSI standards and ISA Best Management Practices for pruning and removing of trees, while also replacing dead trees with biodiverse varieties.
In 2013, the Urban Land Institute recognized Roosevelt’s LEED Gold Wabash Building as a ‘Vision Award’ winner, in the Project category, for its inventiveness, quality, and commitment to community and land use.
In May 2013, Roosevelt was recognized and selected as the only higher-education recipient in Illinois (out of 70 nominees) for the “Green Innovation Award: Green Schools”. This was awarded by the USGBC for Green Initiatives and honored to RU for its holistic approach to pursuing environmental sustainability at both the Chicago and Schaumburg Campuses.
Opened in 2012, the “vertical” campus earned LEED Gold-Certification due to its array of sustainability features including, but not limited to: 30% energy savings over standard Chicago building codes, use of recycled materials and recycling of construction waste, automated recycling chutes, natural daylighting, indoor bike parking, “visual noise” glass to protect migrating birds and 4,000 square feet of green roof.
Roosevelt's Lillian and Larry Goodman Center is LEED Silver-Certified as of 2013. The two-floor athletic facility sports a 3,500 square foot green roof planted with native species which reduce the heat island effect and support biodiversity in Chicago's loop.
Roosevelt University’s Environmental Sustainability Committee (ESC) was born from a series of unofficial meetings initiated in 2010. Since its beginning, the committee has functioned on an open and voluntary basis, and includes student, faculty, staff, and alumni members from various realms of the university. The ESC allows the opportunity for interested individuals to participate in campus sustainability initiatives, as well as provides a forum in which to express their ideas and concerns. In this regard, the ESC was heavily involved in planning the sustainable redevelopment of the Schaumburg Campus, now a NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat, Monarch Waystation, Tree Campus USA, and Arboretum Accreditation 1. In 2014, the ESC spearheaded the creation of RU’s Five-Year Strategic Sustainability Plan, and continues to monitor progress of the plan’s major goals through the action groups of Climate & Energy, Education & Outreach, Waste & Natural Resources, and Economics & Governance. Current ESC Chair: Dr. Graham Pickren (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Students have long been at the forefront of environmental activism at Roosevelt University. Well before RU began its recent sustainability initiatives in 2010, students formed the organization RU Green to promote environmental literacy on campus, engage students and the RU community in policy discussions of environmental issues, and plan campus activities and events to "green" Roosevelt's environment by holding clean-up days at both campuses and encouraging recycling efforts. RU Green has been a formally recognized student organization since the 1980s, and welcomes participation from all students at the university. Its mission of environmental education and service perfectly complement and will be vital to implementing RU's sustainability goals and vision. Current RU Green President: Sophia Gallo (email@example.com); Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mike Bryson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Since 2010, Roosevelt has undergone a green metamorphosis across campuses and departments. Two LEED-certified buildings have been constructed, the Sustainability Studies program has graduated over 100 students, much of Schaumburg’s campus has been converted to a sustainable prairie and wetland landscape, and more. Sustainability is woven into the fabric of Roosevelt University, and flourishes through these many contributions. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni take it one step further: they work together to bring the University’s sustainable vision and mission to life.