Nonprofit honors college for sustainability


The Grace Hauenstein Library. Courtesy Aquinas College

A local college has been honored by a nonprofit for its sustainability efforts.

Aquinas College was recognized last month by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum as the West Michigan Sustainable Business of the Year at the nonprofit’s Triple Bottom Line Bash at Studio D2D in Grand Rapids.

The award recognizes organizations that best represent the values of the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.

Several organizations were finalists for the award: Amway, Catalyst Partners, City of Grand Rapids, Disher, Grand Valley State University, Herman Miller, Kent County Department of Public Works; and Rockford Construction.

Aquinas’ sustainability

Aquinas College has a record of commitment to sustainability.

In 2003, Aquinas launched its sustainable business bachelor’s degree program, which the school said was the first undergraduate program of its kind in the U.S. The college also boasts six LEED-certified buildings by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Aquinas has signed Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment, signifying the college’s goals of working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. With the assistance of The Wege Foundation, Aquinas launched a Green Revolving Fund in 2014 to provide financial support for the college’s campus energy-efficiency goals.

Additionally, Aquinas topped the state leaderboard for the Recyclemania competition in 2015 and 2016, and its recent zero-waste initiative has diverted more than 70 percent of waste from landfills and incineration.

“Aquinas College has been a leader in the integration of sustainability into campus life and academic coursework,” Aquinas President Juan Olivarez said. “Sustainable practices are a part of all of our operations and programming.”

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