Fostering a Sustainable Campus Environment

The University and our students take sustainability seriously. Whether through organizing group events like Recyclemania, taking part in awareness campaigns or just making sound ecological choices, our collective efforts contribute to a campus that does its part to make a meaningful difference. The Reach Out Center and student groups such as Greenhounds and CRS Social Justice Ambassadors provide you with a number of options to put into actions your passion for sustainable practices.

Assumption has made an institutional commitment to sustainability. In accordance with its mission and values, the University strives to be ecologically-responsible and forward thinking in ways both large and small.

Campus-Wide Sustainability Efforts

  • Recyclemania
  • Move Out/Move In campaigns
  • Community Service Projects
  • Weigh Your Food Waste
  • Waste Audits
  • Carbon Fast during Lent
  • Fair Trade awareness

An Institutional Commitment to Sustainability

  • Concern for the welfare of our planet is leading an increasing number of students toward careers in environmental science. Environmental science studies the environment and the effects of biological systems on it. Students who pursue an undergraduate degree in this field choose a specialization that enhances their understanding of resources conservation, environmental policy, and the effect of toxic materials on ecosystems.

    • Major
      • Environmental science majors take 17 courses in ecology, chemistry, biology, and geography.  Specialization options include resource conservation, environmental policy and the effects of toxic materials. This academic discipline prepares graduates for a career in teaching, law, government agencies, industry, the health sciences or pursuit of a master’s degree.
    • Minor
      • A minor in environmental science requires 6 courses and may be of interest to students who want to deepen their understanding of the science of environmental issues.


    In the past 15,000 years, New England has recovered from glaciation and been colonized by humans—first by American Indians, then by European immigrants. These and other events produced a series of changes in the biological landscape, some dramatic, some subtle. This course will examine many of these changes chronologically, concentrating on the relationships between humans and their biological environment. The laboratory will include field trips, lab exercises, and an introduction to some of the methods of historical biology. Three lectures and one laboratory per week. Lab Fee: $400. This course fulfills the Core Curriculum requirement for a science with a lab. (Fall, odd-numbered years) Sholes/Four credits

    Topical study of issues relating to natural resources: their use, abuse, and future potential. U.S. resources will be stressed. A partial list of topics dealt with includes our carbon footprint, energy, alternative energy, water, fish resources, the Law of the Seas, waste disposal, environmental laws, and effective regional planning. Other issues will arise from class projects and discussion. Counts in Core as Social Science. (Fall, Alternate Years) Hickey/Three credits

    An introductory course designed as a foundation course for all students interested in environmental science. The interdisciplinary nature of environmental science will be stressed by covering the chemical, biological, and social aspects of environmental issues and problems in a case study approach. The lab will expose the students to both field and lab work associated with applied environmental work. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Lab Fee: $400. This course fulfills the Core Curriculum requirement for a science with a lab. Hauri/Four credits

    A survey of invertebrate animals from protozoans through invertebrate chordates, emphasizing their functional organization, modes of reproduction, ecological roles, and evolutionary relationships. In the laboratory, we will examine representative living and preserved specimens, concentrating on their structure and behavior. Three lectures and one laboratory or field trip each week. Prerequisite: BIO 160 or equivalent. Lab Fee: $400. (Spring) Sholes/Four credits

    BIO 230 BOTANY
    This course provides an introduction to the biology of plants. Among the topics considered are the role of plants in the biosphere, plant form and function, and the evolution of plants. In the laboratory, students examine representatives of the major groups of plants and learn the fundamentals of plant tissue culture techniques in order to study plant growth and development. Fieldwork includes trips to a variety of local habitats. Three lectures and one laboratory or field trip each week. Prerequisite: BIO 160 or equivalent. Lab Fee: $400. (Fall, even-numbered years) Sholes/Four credits

    The course examines the relationship between the environment, markets, and business organizations. After an overview of the economics of the environment, it focuses on (among other topics) property rights; externalities; human population problems; the allocation of depletable, renewable, and other resources; cost-benefit analysis; regulation and taxation; and the trading of pollution rights. Prerequisite: ECO 110. (Alternate Years) Kantarelis, White/Three credits

    This is an interdisciplinary introduction to our most precious resources. Water has shaped our bodies, our planet, our history, our culture. How we manage it will shape our future. Because of increasing demand, waste, and pollution, we are depleting— and risk destroying—the limited supply of usable fresh water. This course will look at water through scientific, historical, and cultural viewpoints and survey contemporary water problems in all their dimensions—political, economic, and technological. Marine Studies Consortium/Three credits

    This special topics course will explore an area of environmental science using the literature, and if appropriate, a cross-disciplinary approach. The course will allow the students and faculty an opportunity to investigate areas of environmental science that are not part of the regular curriculum. Staff/Three credits

    This course will introduce students to the coastal environment and its resources and uses; coastal zone issues resulting primarily from human activities; the framework established by the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act for collaborative planning and regulation of the U.S. coastal zone; the roles played by the federal, state, and local governments, advocacy groups, and private property owners; the design and achievements of these programs; and international applications of coastal management. Guest speakers and case studies (e.g., Boston Harbor project, nonpoint source plans, Cape Cod Commission) will be used to illustrate themes and the intricacies of public policy development. Marine Studies Consortium/Three credits

    Directed study within an internship program. The student will be expected to keep a journal detailing the internship. The student will also be expected to write a paper (usually approximately 10 pages in length) summarizing an area related to the internship experience. An evaluation by the on-site supervisor will be considered when determining the grade. The student will be required to have a G.P.A. of 3.0 to enroll.

    A specialized knowledge of chemistry is needed in order to identify, understand, and solve environmental problems. This course will be an in-depth study of the chemistry of environmental issues and pollutants. Students will learn the mechanisms of important chemical reactions, as well as relevant analytical techniques related to environmental chemistry. In the lab, students will combine field work, analytical chemistry, and remediation techniques during their investigation of environmental problems. Prerequisites: CHE 131–132, CHE 201–202. Lab fee: $400 Hauri/Four credits

    Wetlands play a vital role in the hydrology and ecology of global landscapes. This course will consider several topics: the function of inland and coastal marshes, swamps, and bogs in water and nutrient cycles; the influence of wetlands on biodiversity, from microbes to vertebrates; the biological links between wetlands and human activities, such as agriculture, coastal development, and fisheries; and the legal framework for the protection and restoration of endangered wetlands. Prerequisites: CHE 132 and two Biology courses at the 200 level or higher. (Fall) Marine Studies Consortium/Three credits

    In this course, students interpret published data, critique some original papers, and participate in class discussion on the following topics: limits on species distributions, demography, population growth and regulation, interactions of species, energy flow, nutrient cycling, community dynamics, succession, and patterns of species diversity. In labs, students participate in class exercises, and design, perform, and report their own group field projects. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Lab Fee: $400. Prerequisite: Two Biology courses or permission of instructor. (Fall, odd-numbered years) Sholes/Four credits

    An in-depth study of a current topic in environmental science. This course will emphasize review and analysis of primary literature. Students will be expected to give oral presentations as part of the course requirements. Some example topics are Global Availability of Drinking Water in the 21st century, Eutrophication, and Environmental Pollution Control. Classes will meet for three hours weekly. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor and six courses in environmental science or other science. Staff/Three credits

    Directed study or experimental research on some aspect of environmental science. Prerequisites: The student is expected to have a GPA of 3.0 and six courses in environmental science or other science. Offered by arrangement. (Fall, Spring) Staff/Three credits

    ** Course is available through Assumption College’s participation in the Marine Studies Consortium, an association of 18 educational and research institutions in Massachusetts dedicated to increasing understanding and stewardship of coastal and marine ecosystems. The courses are taught by working professionals from research and policy centers, providing students with a real-world perspective on marine science and policy problems.

  • Greenhounds, the College’s student sustainability club, works to promote sustainable practices at both the individual level and the campus community. They work in collaboration with the College’s Sustainability Committee to make events more sustainable, educate their peers about environmental stewardship, and engage the campus community in making positive change. Throughout the school year, they initiate and lead events such as Weigh Your Food Waste, Waste Audits, Recyclemania, Carbon Fasts and Fair Trade awareness.

  • Assumption’s Catholic Relief Social Justice Ambassadors have led a Fair Trade initiative on campus that resulted in Assumption receiving approval as a Fair Trade College by Fair Trade Colleges and Universities. While focusing on education surrounding Human Dignity, they have also worked to highlight the role of Fair Trade as dignified work and the importance for action on the issue of Climate Change.

  • The Reach Out Center (ROC), Assumption College’s volunteer service organization, promotes and organizes positive and rewarding volunteering experiences in the greater Worcester community. Student volunteers have served at organizations such as the Community Harvest Project in Grafton, which aims to build an engaged and healthier community by bringing volunteers together to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for hunger relief. The ROC also plays a key role in the Move Out Donation Drive which seeks to reduce waste on campus, encourage reusing goods, and support the College’s partners in the community.

  • Conservation affects everyone—and we need everyone to pitch in. Here are a few simple steps you can take to help Assumption care for our common home.

    • Use the water bottle filling stations
    • Participate in Sodexo’s reusable mug program
    • Reduce, reuse, refuse, repair, compost, recycle
    • Support Fair Trade practices
    • Choose greener transportation
    • Take shorter showers
    • Eat a more plant-based diet
    • Adjust your energy usage
    • Choose sustainable giveaways
    • Use LED light bulbs
  • Assumption College has made an institutional commitment to sustainability. In accordance with its mission and values, the College strives to be ecologically-responsible and forward thinking in ways both large and small.


    • In 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency certified Assumption as a Green Power Partner. More than 50 percent of the power purchased by the college is based from green power energy.
    • In 2014, the College partnered with an 18-acre off-campus solar photovoltaic farm in Spencer, MA, which generates 1/3 of the College’s energy.
    • In 2013, the Testa Science Center was completely renovated to decrease its energy usage by approximately 20%.
    • A 2004 study and resulting project invested $750,000 towards conservation efforts that save Assumption $150,000 per year.
    • The College’s campus in Rome, Italy, is a “green campus.” Solar panels on the building’s roof provide the campus with much of its power and energy-conscious appliances limit the campus’s carbon footprint
    • Solar Photovoltaic panels on the library rooftop generate 60,000 watts per year for the College.
    • In 2010 the heating plant was converted to run on cleaner burning natural gas
    • CHP cogeneration at Assumption’s heating plant generates 10% of campus electricity, reducing power plant emissions through alternate energy.
    • In 2009/2010 lighting for the Residence Hall and Academic Buildings was retrofit for energy reduction.
    • Assumption purchases its local delivery service from National Grid, but bids its commodity to electricity providers. In its contract with TransCananda, a provision requires 30 percent of the power it purchases to be hydro-electric power.


    In 2005, Assumption completed a $2.5 million energy and water-saving retrofit of nearly two dozen campus buildings. These water-saving measures save the College nearly 3 million gallons of water annually.


    • Starting in the fall of 2015, the WRTA will run a bus line connecting Assumption College with downtown Worcester and a number of area colleges.
    • Assumption College partners with MassRides, which takes great strides to promote commute options and improve the Commonwealth.
    • The U-Car Share program, a car-sharing platform based on a fundamental philosophy that “the division of use and specialization of ownership” are good for both customers and the environment, allows students to carpool and reduce pollution by driving a hybrid car.
    • Each year, over 100 students use the Green Bikes program, which allows them to sign out and use bicycles instead of a car.
    • As a means of on-campus transportation, college departments make uses of electric vehicles.
    • First-year students, who are not allowed to have cars on campus, are encouraged to take advantage of ride share programs such as shared vans and the U-Car Share program. 

    Dining Services

    • The Sodexo Campus Dining team is dedicated to sustainability and works with the College’s constituents to make a positive impact on campus.  In addition many nationwide initiatives, Sodexo has implemented the following programs on campus:
    • Local Farms: Sodexo works hard to get as many ingredients locally as possible. Their professionally-trained chefs write menus to take advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables that are naturally in season.
    • APEX™ Dishwashing System: Ecolab’s Apex™ dishwashing system combines technology and products designed to save water and energy, minimize the impact of products on the environment, and has a built-in method of measuring results. Apex uses a unique combination of detergents, rinse additives, equipment and consultative services to address the operational challenges in food-service operations. The Apex management approach uses a tablet PC and wireless technology to communicate with the system’s controller to download, process and analyze data to establish each food-service operation’s “rack-to-guest ratio.” By monitoring and improving this ratio, the system helps reduce the amount of water and energy used at each facility, and improves total operational efficiency. All locations will benefit from using less water, energy and labor, thus minimizing their operations’ overall environmental impact. In addition, the Apex system further supports Dining Services’ sustainability initiatives with non-caustic chemistry and 95% less packaging material than current methods. Apex products come in a compact solid form that significantly reduces transportation shipments compared to bulkier liquid detergents.
    • Xpress Nap Holders: XPressnap dispensers are another solution to reducing energy and waste. They use 30% less paper than traditional napkin dispensing mechanisms, helping the environment while  keeping costs down. The napkins are made of 100% recycled paper and the dispenser will encourage customers to take (and waste) less napkins. Energy is saved because less power is used to recycle paper products than to create them from virgin material.  According to Xpressnap, enough is saved through using recycled napkins to power 600 American homes for an entire year! More than half a million gallons of oil were saved ‘ 38 tanker trucks worth ‘ and 41 tons of pollutants were kept out of the environment. Using recycled napkins diverted 4,131 cubic yards of paper from landfills. This is enough to cover a football field with a stack of paper two and a half feet deep.

    Fair Trade

    • According to Sodexo USA, with great coffee comes great responsibility. Sodexo’s Aspretto Coffee uses a blend of only the finest 100% Arabica beans to give its distinctive flavor and aroma.  Because it is Fair Trade certified, it’ll do great things for the places where it grows and the people who grow it. For more information, see
    • At Assumption College, Sodexo s serves six different Aspretto teas that are Fair Trade certified by FairTrans USA.  
    • In 2004, Dunkin’ Donuts partnered with Fair Trade USA to purchase Fair Trade Certified™ coffee beans for their line of espresso beverages that supports the economic and environmental welfare of coffee-farming communities. As of December 31, 2012, Dunkin Donuts had purchased over 33 million pounds of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee for espresso, latte and cappuccino beverages, thus providing additional income to the farmers who grow and harvest it. – See more at:
    • Through their partnership with Catholic Relief Services and Equal Exchange, college departments, such as Campus Ministry, purchase Fair Trade chocolate, coffee, tea, and artisan goods for use during student events, activities and holiday bazaars. 

    Waste Reduction

    Recycling Efforts

    • Resident Hall Single Stream Recycling
    • Maintenance Recycling of batteries, scrap metal, light bulbs, vehicle oil, cooking oil, refrigerants and food cans
    • Electronic Recycling and Donation Program: The IT Department coordinates a refurbishment program that maximizes the life of computers and other electronics on campus. After the equipment reaches a certain age, operable units are donated to community partners in the Worcester area. Every year at Assumption, close to 1.5 tons of broken computers and unwanted electronics are recycled through the Apple Recycling Program.
    • Zero Waste Station: Located in the Reach Out Center, the Zero Waste Station includes bins to recycle Tetra-products, CFL light bulbs, ink cartridges, office supplies, and other items.  
    • Hound Store Book Donation Program: Each year over 1,250 pounds of books are donated.
    • Annual office paper shredding and recycling program

    Food Diversion

    • In 2012 Taylor Dining Hall began a composting program that diverts waste by 95% (over 90 tons per year)
    • Taylor Dining Hall’s “trayless” system drastically reduces food waste, energy consumption, and clean water
    • Each semester, Sodexo and the Greenhounds hold a ‘Weigh Your Waste Event’ to increase awareness about food waste and its impact on the environment, influence student behavior, and encourage people to take action through every day practices.
    • Hagan Hall’s composting program diverts waste by over 60% (over 60 tons per year)

    Construction and Demolition Waste

    Assumption College works closely with EL Harvey, the contracted waste hauler, to monitor waste streams related to construction and demolition. This collaboration ensures that the College maximizes its ability to recycle materials.

    Green Waste

    The Buildings and Grounds department operates a green waste practice that composts yard waste and partners with local businesses who turn the yard waste into loom.

    Move Out Campaign

    Through partnerships with Goodwill and Worcester County Food Bank, Greenhounds collaborates with Residential Life, Buildings and Grounds, and Campus Ministry to collect usable goods for donation or diversion. The Year End Move Out Drive generates an average of 2,200 pounds of non-perishable food and household items donated, 4,000 pounds of clothing, kitchen ware and small appliances annually.

    Move In Campaign

    The College’s annual Move In Campaign is a campus-wide event. Student leader groups create and designate cardboard recycling stations. Building and Grounds staff and student leaders assist incoming students to recycle their cardboard and educate them on Assumption’s recycling process. Before the students arrive on campus, they receive messaging about Green packing lists and how to reduce waste as an incoming student.

    Office Furniture Reuse
    Buildings and Grounds staff collects and manage used office furniture, make necessary repairs, and then distribute upon request