Villanova University joins White House Day of Climate Action to support a sustainable future

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University has further reinforced its commitment to sustainability and its desire for a sustainable campus and future by joining the White House Day of Climate Action, which will take place on Thursday, November 19. This action unites more than 200 higher education institutions across the United States, which share the common goal of a low-carbon, sustainable future.

As part of the White House Day of Climate Action, students and faculty from colleges and universities across the country will join high-level government officials, celebrities, NGOs, and business leaders in roundtable event that facilitates meaningful dialogue on climate change solutions and encourages student involvement. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will also participate in an interactive live-stream that will include participants from hundreds of campuses across the nation, including Villanova.

This White House initiative comes ahead of the 2015 United Nations’ Climate Change Conference, which will take place November 30 to December 11 in Paris. The conference, an annual gathering of nations focused on climate change action, will seek an international agreement to keep global warming below 2°C (35°F).

As part of the White House Day of Climate Action, Villanova President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, signed the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge that reaffirms Villanova’s commitment to sustainability. The pledge reads:

“As institutions of higher education, we applaud the monumental progress already made to promote clean energy and climate action as we seek a comprehensive, ambitious agreement at the upcoming United Nations Climate Negotiations in Paris. Although we are optimistic that world leaders will reach an agreement to secure a transition to a low-carbon future, we recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community’s economic prosperity and public health. As a Catholic institution, we have a moral obligation to act in the face of climate change, in order to protect the vulnerable and preserve the environment for future generations.”

As a signatory of the pledge, Villanova has vowed to act on its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050—in an effort to ward off the effects of climate change.

“Villanova University is pleased to reaffirm our commitment to sustainability as a signatory of the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge,” said Father Donohue. “As a University, Villanova continues to integrate sustainability into our curricula, research, events, and institutional practices to create a more sustainable campus and deliver on our pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050.”

“Villanova is honored and proud to be part of such a strong group of institutions looking to make a positive change for a better future,” added Liesel Schwarz, Villanova’s Sustainability Manager. “We are anticipating good news from the Climate Change Conference that will help us meet our goal and create a more sustainable future for generations to come.”

In 2007, Father Donohue signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Further advancing the University’s pledge to sustainability, Father Donohue established the President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee on campus. This committee—comprised of faculty, staff, and students from across the University—is charged with taking action on all aspects of campus sustainability and in implementing the President’s Climate Commitment on behalf of the University. Since that time, Villanova has expanded its sustainability efforts, including the launch of a new master’s degree program in Environmental Science—adding yet another academic program with an emphasis on the environment and sustainability. In addition, the University has five LEED certified buildings on campus and has committed to LEED certification for all new construction and major renovation projects on campus. In April 2014, Father Donohue signed the St. Francis Pledge, committing the University to protect God's Creation and advocate on behalf of people in poverty who face the hardest impacts of global climate change.

Villanova continues to be recognized as one of the nation’s greenest colleges.  The University recently received national recognition for its commitment to sustainability by both Sierra Magazine and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Villanova recycles and composts up to 41% of its waste, sending all of its trash to Covanta, an energy-from-waste facility that burns the trash for electricity. Villanova has installed 17 hydration stations on campus to make it easier to fill up reusable water bottles. The initiative has already saved several hundred thousand bottles of water. In addition, the University incorporates its commitment to the environment into its community service initiatives. In fact, Villanova was named the Green Apple Day of Service Champions by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) last fall.