Sustainability at Mercyhurst
"Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it." -Pope Francis, Laudato Si, #139
Sustainability and the Mercy Mission
With a history of environmental stewardship and a mission-driven approach, Mercyhurst University strives to care for the Earth and all of its creatures with due passion and respect. In following the goals outlined in Pope Francis’s encyclical “Laudato Si’,” Mercyhurst seeks to curb its environmental footprint while engaging students and community members in meaningful and interactive projects. Lead by the Office of Sustainability, the Student Sustainability Club, and the University Laudato Si’ Committee, sustainability is engrained within our campus both physically and spiritually, becoming an integral part of the Mercyhurst experience for employees and students alike.
Student Sustainability Fund
The Student Sustainability Fund was established in 2007 by members of the student Green Team and continues to help keep campus green. This fund collects $10 per semester from each undergraduate student to provide funds for new sustainability projects around campus, allowing Mercyhurst to serve as a living laboratory for passionate environmentalists. This fund is open for project proposals from all members of the campus community and has enabled the purchase of an electric ATV for recycling collection, the installation of rain gardens throughout campus, the purchase of water refilling stations in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center, and reusable cups for all incoming freshmen.
Keeping MU Green ☘️
Tower Garden Lending Program
The Tower Garden Lending Program expands access to freshly grown produce year-round throughout the City of Erie, using aeroponic grow towers to turn any indoor space into a functional garden. Lent to community members such as the Downtown YMCA, Diehl Elementary School, and the Booker T. Washington Center, Tower Gardens help to alleviate food deserts and increase children’s exposure to the process of growing. Common vegetables grown in these towers include lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, cilantro, and chives.
Green Roof on Zurn Ceramics Lab
Mercyhurst’s green roof is one of our campus’s hidden green gems! Located on the roof of the Zurn Hall ceramics lab, the green roof is a self-sustaining planting of sedum, which requires no watering, weeding, or maintenance of any kind. Its benefits are myriad, including helping protect the roof from sun and water, thus extending its life up to 30 percent. Home to bugs, birds, and an array of native pollinators, the green roof provides habitat, as well as water filtration, insulation, and natural beauty.
The Tiny Forest
Mercyhurst’s Tiny Forest is the first of its kind in northwest Pennsylvania and one of only a handful in the world. Designed and installed by Biology Professor Dr. Chris Dolanc, this planting technique uses the closeness of the trees to increase forest density and increase growing speeds up to three times faster than a typical forest. By attracting native insects and birds, providing a condensed natural space, and offering such environmental benefits as carbon sequestration and air purification, the Tiny Forest is a unique canvas for research projects and community inspiration.
A great way to join a group of student change makers, the Sustainability club offers projects, activities, and good times! Pictured here, President Anna and Vice President Emma host a potting activity for the Wellness fair, allowing participants to plant a succulent of their choice into an upcycled drinking glass. The club meets once a month to create sustainable crafts, such as pinecone ornaments and turmeric anthotypes, discuss plans for projects such as the greenhouse, and test their sustainable knowledge with trivia nights and bingo.
Mercyhurst Garden Beds
Installed in May 2023 by the University Laudato Si’ Committee, four raised beds grow a variety of vegetables throughout the summer and fall. Contributing produce to the Mercy Market and the dining halls, the gardens help provide the campus with organic and locally grown foods while allowing students the chance to get their hands dirty and experience the art of growing. The garden beds have also provided inspiration for such projects as an indigenous planting of the Three Sisters (squash, beans, and corn) and a microbiology study determining the advantages of unique compost bacteria on the growth of tomatoes
Additional Sustainability Projects include: