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Sustainability at Roosevelt

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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.

In addition to our many sustainability initiatives, Roosevelt offers two bachelor's degrees in Sustainability Studies, a BA for traditional students and a BASS intended for adult degree completion.

Sustainability Strategic Plan

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:

  • Launching a Sustainability Studies bachelor’s degree program in 2010 and revising the Environmental Science curriculum in 2012
  • Building two green buildings: both LEED & one SERF certified
  • Replacing 10 acres of turf in the heart of suburban Schaumburg with native prairie and wetland to support biodiversity and clean/conserve water
  • Supporting local food production with a community and rooftop vegetable gardens
  • Performing regular energy assessments of the Wabash, Auditorium, and Schaumburg buildings
  • Implementing a sustainable purchasing policy: cage-free, hormone-free and local food

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!

Awards and Alliances

Awards & Recognition:​

AASHE STARS, Bronze Level (2015)

​​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.

ArborNet, Accreditation 1 (2014)

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.

Certified Wildlife Habitat

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.

Conservation Foundation, “Conservation@Work” Recipient (2012)

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.

FIABCI International Real Estate Federation U.S. Chapter, Grand Prix of Real Estate Award (2014), Wabash Building

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.”

FIABCI International Real Estate Federation, Gold Prix d’ Excellence Award (2015), Wabash Building

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.”

Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact, Gold Level

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.

Illinois Food Scrap Coalition, Gold Partner

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.” 

Monarch Waystation

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.

Princeton Review Inclusion 

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.

SERF Certified 

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.”​ 

Tree Campus USA Designation

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.

Urban Land Institute, Vision Award (2013)

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.

USGBC, Green Schools Emerald Award for Green Innovation (2013)

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.

USGBC, LEED Gold-Certified, Wabash Building

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.

USGBC, LEED Silver-Certified, Lillian and Larry Goodman Center

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.  

Alliances & Partnerships:

  • Alliance for a Greener South Loop​
  • Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
  • Chicagoland Network for Sustainability in Higher Education (CNSHE)
  • Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC), Member
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Green Power Partnership
  • United States Green Building Council (USGBC), Member Organization

Get Involved

Social Media

Environmental Sustainability Committee

Roosevelt University’s Environmental Sustainability Committee (ESC) was born from a series of unofficial meetings initiated in 2010 by Asst. Vice President of Campus Planning and Operations, Paul Matthews. 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 realizing the sustainable redevelopment of the Schaumburg Campus, which now boasts itself as an NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat, Monarch Waystation, Tree Campus USA, and Arboretum Accreditation 1. In 2014, committee meetings facilitated the drafting of RU’s 5-Year Strategic Sustainability Plan, and continues to execute and monitor progress of the plan’s major goals through aligned action groups of Climate & Energy, Education & Outreach, Waste & Natural Resources, and Economics & Governance.

RU Green

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 that is reorganizing itself for the 2016-17 year, 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.

Sustainable Community

Since 2010, Roosevelt has undergone a green metamorphosis across campuses and departments. Two LEED-certified buildings have been constructed, the Sustainability Studies program graduated its first class, much of Schaumburg’s campus has been converted to sustainable prairie, 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.

Below, you will find a preview of several individuals who are working to make this vision possible. Note, that this work is not limited to this small core group.

Paul J. Matthews
Assistant Vice President, Campus Planning & Operations

Paul J. Matthews is a key driver and leader in Environmental Sustainability at Roosevelt University. Serving on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council through 2011, Matthews currently is co-chair of the USGBC-IL Green Schools Higher Education subcommittee. Paul also helped develop RU’s 5-Year Strategic Sustainability Plan and leads the Climate & Energy action group of the Environmental Sustainability Committee.

Since arriving in 2010, Matthews completed three major capital projects: construction of the 32-story USGBC Gold Wabash “vertical” campus, USGBC Silver Goodman Center Field House, and renovation of College of Pharmacy which is featured in the American School & University (AS&U) Interiors Portfolio for outstanding design. Currently under Paul’s direction is a 22-acre sustainable landscape renovation at Roosevelt’s Schaumburg, including continued prairie restoration, pervious paving, rain gardens and a community vegetable garden. Paul is also contributing to the retro-commissioning of the Auditorium, Wabash and Goodman Center buildings—all of which will contribute to energy savings and a lowered carbon footprint.

Matthews holds a Master’s degree in Public Management from Carnegie-Mellon University and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Ohio State University. Commissioned as an officer in the USMC, Matthews served for twenty-four years, retiring in 1996 as a Major.

Michael A. Bryson
Director and co-founder Sustainability Studies Program
Professor of Humanities and Sustainability Studies

Michael A. Bryson is director and co-founder of Roosevelt’s Sustainability Studies program (est. 2010), the first of its kind in the Chicago region, and a Research Associate at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.  He is also a key leader of Roosevelt’s Sustainability Initiative. Bryson teaches a wide range of interdisciplinary courses and specializes in designing field study opportunities for his students. An active scholar, writer, and editor on subjects ranging from urban ecology environmental literature to sustainability education, Bryson has published the well-reviewed book, Visions of the Land: Science, Literature, and the American Environment from the Era of Exploration to the Age of Ecology (University of Virginia Press, 2002) as well as many other articles and essays. Michael helped develop RU’s 5-Year Strategic Sustainability Plan, is part of the Environmental Sustainability Committee and is the leader of the Education & Outreach action group.

Dr. Bryson received his BA in biology and English (1990) at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL; and his PhD in English (1995) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (now Stony Brook University) on Long Island.  

Jeffrey DeBrizzio
Chief Engineer, Chicago Campus, Campus Planning and Operations

Jeffrey DeBrizzio, Chief Engineer for Roosevelt’s downtown Chicago Campus, has been with the University since 2014. He and his team have worked very diligently on many sustainability-related projects at RU. Jeff has helped save energy by tying in devices and doing scheduling through the building automation system (BAS) and has also helped developed a curtailment project with EnerNOC that has resulted in over $64,000 in rebates to Roosevelt in 2015/16. Rebates from this program fund more energy reduction projects. Currently, Jeff is working on retro-commissioning of the Auditorium, Wabash and Goodman Center buildings, which will help the University create a plan that will decrease energy expenses and lower our carbon footprint.

Jeff contributes to RU’s Retrofit goal and is part of the Environmental Sustainability Climate & Energy action group. Jeff received his BS in Computer networking Management from DeVry University, and has a certificate in Stationary Engineering Degree from Triton College.

Pedro Perez
Chief Engineer, Schaumburg Campus, Campus Planning and Operations

Pedro Perez is Roosevelt’s Chief Engineer for the Schaumburg Campus, and has been with the University for 19 years. At the Schaumburg Campus, Pedro has contributed to various projects that have all targeted energy savings. Some of those projects include: replacement of incandescent light bulbs to compact bulbs, replacement of track lighting to LED, installing time clocks on equipment to help with energy savings, and more.

Current projects that Pedro is involved with include the replacement of the parking lot lights to LED, tying several pieces of cooling and heating equipment to the building automation system, and retrofitting several of the school lamps to LED. He can always be found keeping busy at the Schaumburg Campus, and has also contributed to the community garden via helping install and set the timer for the irrigation system. Pedro is part of Roosevelt’s Environmental Sustainability Committee and makes valuable contributions to the Climate & Energy action group.

Tom Sliwinski
Electrical Foreman, Campus Planning and Operations

Tom Sliwinski has been RU’s electric foreman since 2002. He has led quite a few energy savings projects for the University including installation of light sensors in the Auditorium and Gage buildings, installation of controls for motors and fan units at RU, the recycling of lamps, batteries, and light bulbs at the downtown Chicago Campus, and much more. A current project includes pursuing the implementation of more LED technology in our campus buildings. Tom is also helping with a project to retro-commission the Auditorium, Wabash and Goodman Center buildings.

All of the projects that Tom has led and participated in have resulted in savings for the University and, ultimately, a lower carbon footprint. These projects also play in to Tom’s role in helping Roosevelt achieve a 20% energy reduction by 2019 for the Auditorium Building as a part of the University’s commitment to Retrofit Chicago. Tom is part of the Environmental Sustainability Committee at RU, has helped develop RU’s 5-Year Strategic Sustainability Plan, and is the co-leader of the Climate & Energy action group.

Brennan Morrow
Energy Management Student Associate

Brennan Morrow is RU’s Campus Planning and Operations’ Energy Management Student Associate. Working for the department since early spring 2015, Brennan switched from an operations position to one that is more focused on energy use and tracking in fall 2015. Most of Brennan’s work involves creating monthly utility energy reports for all of RU’s buildings, submitting rebates and tracking energy savings projects, submitting data to the USEPA Portfolio Manager, and helping RU work towards achieving a 20% energy reduction by 2019 for the Auditorium Building. Brennan is part of RU’s Economics & Governance action group and Environmental Sustainability Committee.

The energy position interests him because it is a bridge between the business side of firms and sustainability efforts: it demonstrates the common goals between business and sustainability; efficiency and cost reduction. Brennan received his Associate’s degree in Accounting from Harold Washington College in fall 2013, and his BSBA in Accounting at Roosevelt in spring 2016. Brennan hopes to work in Government or the non-profit sector.

Tiffany Mucci
Environmental Sustainability Intern, Chicago Campus

Tiffany Mucci is the Environmental Sustainability Intern for Roosevelt University’s Chicago Campus for the summer 2016 semester. She is working in Campus Planning and Operations, managing the Wabash Rooftop Garden, assisting in the development of a pilot compost program for the Auditorium Building, and writing for RU’s Green Campus social media and website.

Tiffany graduated from Roosevelt University in May 2016 with a BPS in Sustainability Studies. As a student, she served as Assistant Editor of the Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University Blog for the 2015-16 academic year, as well as a co-editor of Writing Urban Nature, an environmental humanities project of the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab. This past winter and spring Tiffany interned at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, working with their ecological restoration team. Inspired by its history, mission, and biodiversity, she authored several essays about Midewin which are published on the SUST@RU Blog.

Nick Waskowski
Environmental Sustainability Student Associate
Schaumburg Campus

Nicholas Waskowski is the Environmental Sustainability Student Associate at Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg Campus. He joined Roosevelt in the fall of 2015, to pursue a major in Sustainability Studies and started his current position in January 2016. Nick has been involved in several sustainability initiatives at the Schaumburg Campus including, but not limited to: planning and opening  the Indoor Walking Course (I.W.C.), contributions to our Tree Care Plan, managing the Schaumburg community garden, monitoring the Prairie Walk and Edible Food Forest, certification of the Schaumburg campus as a Monarch Waystation,  assisting in the plan for bee hive installation on campus, planning the Earth Month Extravaganza, participating in RU’s 2016 Arbor day tree planting celebration, the installation of a Medicinal Plant Garden, and more.

Nick is also a member of the Environmental Sustainability Committee’s Waste and Natural Resources action group and is assisting in the creation a campus wide compost plan that is spearheaded by the action group’s leaders, Maria Cancilla and Emily Rhea. Nick is also an avid amateur horticulturalist and naturalist. When he isn’t working with Campus Planning and Operations he is most likely hiking along the Des Plaines River looking for native flora and fauna. 

Maria Cancilla
STARS Intern, Fall 2015

Maria Cancilla is a Sustainability Studies major at Roosevelt University’s Chicago Campus. She was honored and excited to be work as a student intern with Campus Planning and Operations and the Sustainability Studies Program on the STARS Team. This team followed up on a course, “SUST 390: The Sustainable Campus”, that had its inaugural semester in spring of 2015. Students gathered data to be reported in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Both SUST 390 and the STARS reporting are crucial parts of RU’s 5-year Strategic Sustainability Plan. Maria also helped in the planning of RU’s 5-year Strategic Sustainability Plan.

Cancilla is also happy to be a contributing member of both the RU Environmental Sustainability Committee and the Waste and the Natural Resources action group, of which she is the co-leader. She likes volunteering at the RU Urban Rooftop Garden and, when not up on the roof, she can be found tiptoeing and twirling with her young dance students. Upon graduation, Cancilla hopes to shift her focus to teaching children about where their food comes from and how to grow their own sustainable food. By doing this, she hopes to inspire young people to improve our food systems of the future.

Mary Beth Radeck
Former Environmental Sustainability Student Associate

As a former Environmental Sustainability Student Associate, Mary Beth Radeck worked on important projects at both campuses. Mary Beth helped start and later managed the Schaumburg Campus Community Garden, has worked on the Wabash Rooftop Garden in Chicago, and spearheaded the development and facilitation of the 5-Year Strategic Sustainability Plan, developed in fall 2014 and approved in spring 2015.

Radeck, a current Sustainability Studies undergraduate, also has a Landscape Design certification from Northwestern University and 30 years’ experience as a marketing professional across all media and disciplines. She is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and consults with organizations on sustainability marketing through her company, mb:inc.