Projects Across Campus

The University of Saint Francis has long been committed to concern for the environment. In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, who held dear the natural world, USF pledges itself to the Franciscan Value “Respect creation and use resources wisely.” As a Catholic, not-for-profit institution, source reduction and reuse has always been at the forefront of business practices and recycling has been a part of everyday business for many years.

The Green Campus Committee comprised of faculty, staff and students as well as the student-driven club, Eco, continually brainstorm new ideas to “green” campus. These efforts have awarded USF the Allen County Solid Waste Management District’s 3R Award for excellence in recycling, reuse and waste reduction.

Students Install a Rain Garden

Senior Cole De’Nise designed and planned a campus rain garden to captures and filter storm run-off from the Pope John Paul II Center student parking lot. On April 26 members of Student Government Association, Student Activities Council, Cougars Care Club and TrimLine put their muscle to work, shoveling a few cubic yards of heavy, wet clay. Various flood and drought tolerant species such as little bluestem, oehme sedge, coneflower, turtlehead, salvia and stonecrop were planted. Then the garden was backfilled with organic soil and mulched.

In the fall, Dr. Louise Weber’s science classes will rebuild the drainage area as well as make improvements to USF”s original 2009 rain garden that handles run-off from the Pope John Paul II Center’s employee parking lot.

New Residence Halls Save Resources

Students living in the Clare Hall and Bonzel Hall appreciate the sustainable features incorporated. Environmentally friendly products include:

  • low-flow shower heads, toilets, and aerators
  • energy efficient windows and HVAC system
  • room thermostats with external controls to prevent overuse during warm or cold weather
  • blown cellulose insulation made from recycled newspapers
  • LEED certified paint

These initiatives resulted in a 39% reduction in natural gas consumption for heating and a 16% reduction in water use (over 1.5 million gallons)!

Additionally, as part of USF’s green campus focus, contractors were asked to sign a Green Campus Construction Initiative agreeing to uphold sustainability practices, and resourcefully use or recycle all construction materials with minimal amounts sent to landfills.

“Bio-Dredging” Mirror Lake

The common method of mechanical dredging, removal of settled organic material, is destructive to the landscape and sends tons of waste to the landfill. USF worked with Sanco Industries in 2011, 2012 and again in 2013 to increase oxygenation and bacterial enzyme activity in the Lake to naturally reduce organics. In some parts of the lake up to 17 inches of submerged leaves and other organics were digested, improving water quality, clarity, light penetration and biodiversity.

Mirror Lake at USF serves several purposes: campus aesthetics, a resource for biology laboratory classes and research, and saving grace during inclement weather. It’s a little known fact that for years storm sewers in nearby neighborhoods have drained into Mirror Lake. USF and the City of Fort Wayne together are permit holders for Mirror Lake’s use as a storm water retention lake. Because USF values water quality and biodiversity in Mirror Lake, it is important that area residents prevent pollutants from entering storm sewers. A few simple rules of thumb will keep Mirror Lake clean and healthy.

  • Never allow any chemicals to enter the storm sewer.
  • Wash the car in the yard so grass and soil absorb and neutralize the soap and water. Chemicals break down more readily in soil than in water.
  • Sweep your driveway and sidewalks, rather than hose them off.
  • Keep leaves and other debris away from storm sewer drains.

USF has applied logos to campus storm sewer drains educating the public that the drains flow to a natural waterway. Consider that nearly anywhere you go in Fort Wayne, discharges to storm drains eventually go to the local St. Mary’s, St. Joseph or Maumee Rivers. Since we get our drinking water from local water, the cleanliness of our rivers is vital. Often times the aquatic life that is most sensitive to pollutants are also the ones that are helping by filtering the water further. The cleaner the water, the greater biodiversity, and…the cleaner the water – a wonderful cycle when nature is in balance!

Food Services Initiatives

USF’s Food Services provided, AVI, has taken strides to “green” their operations. The conversion to trayless dining, restricts what people can carry and has reduced food waste by 20%. Food Services has also elimated all Styrofoam, replacing it with biodegradable, non-waxed paper packaging. Used cooking oil is sent off for use in the flavoring of pet food. Leftovers are donated to local food banks/shelters. Learn more.


The Offices of Financial Aid and Admissions have dramatically reduced paper use by changing processing methods Admissions saves up to 23,500 sheets of paper per year and Financial Aid saves over 15,000 sheets annually. Student Life now publishes the student handbook electronically, saving 600,000 sheets annually.

Recycled Paper

USF has been recycling paper and using recycled content paper on campus for years. All colored paper, white paper, and some cardstock used in the campus Copy Center are 30% post-consumer recycled content and Green Seal Certified.

Please further support our efforts by purchasing post-consumer recycled content always recycling paper whether you are on or off campus. Paper products recycled on campus can earn cash for the university for additional environmental initiatives.

Efficient Lighting

The University has converted to fluorescent lamps to reduce energy costs and has even purchased energy saving LED Christmas lights for decorating the campus during the holidays. These new LED lights use 20% less energy compared to older lights used on campus. We are also using lighting sensors in select areas. Even though the USF has added buildings to the campus and changed most fixtures from incandescent to fluorescent and LED sources, the volume of “burned out” lamps has decreased. This is the result of energy minimization tactics and changes in operations policy, such as “lights off” and “low lighting” policies

By replacing older lights we are committing to use the best technology with the lowest energy cost. On the downside all fluorescent lamps contain mercury, a toxic heavy metal that affects the nervous system, kidneys, lungs and sensory organs. For this reason it is important to use a licensed recycling facility once the bulb has burned out. USF contracts with an industrial company, but homeowners can recycle fluorescent lamps at Home Depot or Connolly’s Do-It-Best.

Other Ways We Are Making a Difference

  • Using paper towels and toilet paper made from recycled paper products
  • Purchasing picnic tables and benches made from recycled plastic bottles
  • Using electronic paper towel dispensers in Pope John Paul II Center
  • Regulating thermostats and water heaters throughout campus to reduce energy waste
  • Replacing standard T12 style fluorescent tubes with even more efficient T8 tubes campus-wide
  • Purchasing non-toxic cleaning products when able
  • Using rechargeable batteries in lieu of disposable batteries
  • Setting electronics to use energy saver features
  • Investigating environment friendly options for controlling plant growth around Mirror Lake
  • Aerating lawns and regulating frequency and time of day of mowing to reduce air pollution
  • Purchasing electric equipment instead of gas, diesel, or kerosene powered when able
  • Installing more bicycle racks to encourage commuting by bike
  • Installing TPO energy efficient roofing systems
  • Sponsoring electronics recycling events for the community