Loyola Recognized for Its Climate Change Leadership with Award

Marc Rosales | The PHOENIXLoyola’s Institute for Environmental Sustainability includes the Ecodome greenhouse, a biodiesel lab, an aquaponics facility and an ecotoxicology research lab.

Loyola’s environmental efforts reach beyond the Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES). The university recently received recognition for its multiple projects combating climate change in the Rogers Park and Edgewater area.

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) and Solution Generation awarded Loyola University Chicago the Climate Leadership Award and $10,000 on Jan. 29.

Solution Generation’s Climate Leadership Award recognizes higher education institutions which are combating global warming on their campuses and in their communities. The organization is made up of people in higher education and promotes climate action.

The honor awarded Loyola for addressing climate change in the Rogers Park and Edgewater communities and on campus through academics and campus facilities, according to Solution Generation.

Director of Sustainability at Loyola’s IES Aaron Durnbaugh said Loyola has an extensive history of community action.

Loyola has an ongoing relationship with the Edgewater Environmental Sustainability Project (EESP) that began in 2008, according to Project Co-Chair Anne Comeau. The EESP is comprised of residents and local business owners, according to Durnbaugh.

Comeau said she felt the university deserved the award.

“[Loyola has] done so [many] specific things in terms of showing a leadership within the community … in order to educate the community and to educate various leaders and students and professors on the environment,” Comeau said.

Loyola helped the EESP organize events to educate and promote sustainability, including a past Earth Day event called Clean and Green, which is a volunteer program for students to perform environmental service in Rogers Park and Edgewater.

In 2006, Loyola helped the EESP create a neighborhood climate action plan, according to Durnbaugh.

Loyola also partnered with local businesses including Heartland Cafe, Uncommon Ground and Indie Cafe for a project called the Compost Collection Network that worked with the businesses starting in 2013 and went on for two years, according to Durnbaugh.

Manager of Uncommon Ground on Devon Avenue said working with Loyola is beneficial to the restaurant.

“Being so close to the university and standing for the whole environmental movement … has given us a great portal for business,” said Brooker. “A lot of students were engaged and participating in that department [and] find us as a venue for patronage because we practice what they’re learning.”

Loyola’s partnership with Uncommon Ground also offers internships to students and provides oils for biofuel.

Loyola plans to use the award money to develop and expand projects to continue its community work, according to Durnbaugh. No specific projects are set, but Loyola plans to offer more sustainability interns to students, according to Durnbaugh.

Senior Christie Kochis is the president of the Student Environmental Alliance, a student organization on campus advocating for the environment. The environmental science and business management double major said student effort is influential to Loyola’s sustainability.

“I’m very proud to be a part of the IES [and] constantly working with the director of sustainability to enhance loyola’s sustainability efforts,” said the 22-year-old. “We’re trying to reach beyond just the IES [and] trying to get our new president involved in the conversation. President Rooney did receive the award, but it was definitely the effort of all of us including the students.”

Durnbaugh said sustainability is an important part of Loyola’s Jesuit-Catholic identity.

“The reason we do sustainability is because we’re a Jesuit-Catholic institution,” said Durnbaugh. “When we say ‘sustainability,’ it is grounded in social justice. We’re doing it because it helps people — especially vulnerable, poor marginalized communities globally and right in Chicago in Rogers Park and Edgewater.”

Sophomore environmental science major Paul Campion said he looks forward to what Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney will do to support Loyola’s sustainability mission going forward.

“I think [the award is] an exciting call to action for Dr. Rooney to step forward and establish her own legacy as a leader at a university that has been recognized in the past for this to show that she cares about it as well and is willing to put her leadership and her political weight behind sustainability climate action and climate justice,” said the 19-year-old.

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