Governor Pat Quinn congratulates Provost John Pelissero.

Governor Pat Quinn stopped by Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus last week to praise the University’s sustainability efforts and recognize Loyola for achieving Gold status as part of the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact, which recognizes institutions for outstanding environmental leadership and innovative sustainability accomplishments.

The honor was presented during the Sustainable Schools and Higher Ed Symposium that was hosted by Loyola University Chicago, along with Illinois Green Governments Coordinating Council or (GGCC). The governor, who was the keynote speaker for the all-day event, praised the University, saying Loyola is an institution that understands how important sustainability is.

Loyola applied for the recognition through its Office of Sustainability. Director Aaron Durnbaugh was there as one of the recipients of the honor.

“The recognition goes beyond validating Loyola leadership in sustainability. What it does is really explain what we’ve done and the commitments we’ve made,” says Durnbaugh. “It shows that sustainability is happening all around the University, not just our offices.”

The symposium offered the opportunity to exchange ideas between school and district administrators, regional superintendents, school board members, facilities managers and custodial staff, teachers, school health practitioners, facility planners and architects, school-related non-profits and agencies, high school student environmental leaders, professors, and higher education administrators.

During the event, more than 100 people participated in tours of the University’s biodiesel program, ChainLinks, and other areas around the Lake Shore Campus that are partially responsible for Loyola’s top honor from the GGCC. There were also a series of break out sessions for participants to discuss different topics, such as sustainable agriculture and pedagogy.

“It was nice to talk about the academic side of sustainability and it really did cover infrastructural academics and co-curricular things we were working on,” says Durnbaugh. “It was terrific for Loyola’s sustainability efforts to be recognized by the state.”

Durnbaugh says Loyola will continue to seize opportunities to improve environmental sustainability through its  curriculum, infrastructure, and around campus, and that this recognition is just one benchmark of sustainable practices Loyola aims to adhere to.

“On a higher level, these programs help build community,” says Durnbaugh. “”We feel like we’re leading sustainability in the region and we want to look ahead nationally.”

Meeting the requirements for the gold level recognition presents the challenge of how to continue surpassing sustainability goals.

“It doesn’t mean we’re done, as there is progress to chase,” says Durnbaugh. “We’re going to keep looking forward, but it was nice to take a step back and be recognized for what we’ve accomplished thus far.”

For more information on the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact, click here.