Sustainability has played an integral role at Dominican since the university’s founding. Caring for the Earth’s resources is one way of fulfilling our mission to “participate in the creation of a more just and humane world.”

On campus, students, faculty and staff recycle, compost, ride bikes, reuse items and conserve resources. At a higher level, the university has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint, conserve water and energy, and educate students on ecology and sustainability.

In the spring of 2011, the university launched 4Rfuture: A Sustainability Plan for Dominican University (pdf). This page details some of the elements of the plan as well as some of the initiatives that Dominican has already completed, such as the water cistern, energy management, a bike share program, recycling, composting, and the community garden. Sustainability involves the whole community, and the hope is that this site serves as a resource for students, faculty and staff who are looking for ways to be more involved in the conservation efforts on campus.

If you would like more information or have an idea about a way to help, please contact Cathy Nichin, sustainability coordinator, at cjnichin@dom.edu or (708) 524-6897.

Bicycle Programs

Dominican encourages university community members to reduce their carbon footprint through several bike programs:

  • BikeDU. Dominican University’s bike-share program—BikeDU—allows students, staff and faculty access to a bike at the [Ride for a Day] level. The program is a free 1st generation bike-sharing system for recreation and transportation purposes powered by the best alternative fuel: You! To check out a bike, visit the Coughlin or Priory Welcome and Information Desk. All BikeDU users must earn the Gold-level certificate on BikeSafetyQuiz.com offered by Ride Illinois to maintain membership in the program. The bike safety quiz tests your bike safety knowledge and allows for the discovery of relevant bike laws and safety strategies for sharing the road successfully.
  • The DU Bike Fix-It Station. A self-service or DIY bicycle repair station located at the first floor of the parking garage, main campus. Manufactured by Dero, the new fix-it station is equipped with all the tools to perform the most basic repairs and maintenance, from changing a flat tire to adjusting brakes and derailleurs. Bicycles can be suspended from the stations hanger arms, allowing pedals and wheels to spin freely while making repairs. A QR code on the front of the station enables users to view detailed repair instructions on a smartphone.
Water Conservation

We use a cistern, a large water tank that was built in the 1920s, to collect rainwater from buildings. The water is used for the irrigation of campus and in the air conditioning system in Parmer Hall. The cistern system has helped Dominican reduce the amount of potable water it purchases by more than 4 million gallons a year.

Energy-Saving Initiatives
  • A building automation system controls the energy settings on campus.
  • Other energy-saving features include occupancy sensors, solar power lights, borrowed lighting, day lighting and heat recovery.
  • Energy-efficient boilers save 100,000 therms per year.
  • Energy-efficient lighting was installed on campus, saving 148,000 watts per year.
Community Garden

Dominican had a community garden at the Priory campus, and it is now a pollinator-friendly, butterfly station. Students have been working with a faculty member to grow native plants from seed in the greenhouse and transplant them in this garden. For more information or to help in the garden, contact sustainability@dom.edu.

Our gardens are listed in the pollinator corridor for the West Cook Wild Ones.

Departmental Green Initiatives
  • Go Green, Print Lean: All campus printers use a log-in system so users can select which documents they need to print. In addition, the printers also print double sided.
  • The Physical Plant uses recycled content in building materials whenever possible. Recycling bins are provided around campus to divert recyclable items from the landfill.
  • The Library donates used books to Better World Books.
  • Information Technology recycles all computers, printers, cartridges and equipment.
  • Filtered tap water coolers were installed in offices on campus to eliminate the need for bottled water coolers.
  • The pilot office composting program helps divert food waste from landfills.
Parking Garage
  • The garage uses day lighting so the light levels will automatically dim if natural light levels are high.
  • Motion sensors have been installed on each light fixture that reduces the light level to 40% when no motion is detected for 15 minutes. The HID fixtures were all changed out to 32 watt T-8 lamps.
  • Reserved spaces are available for hybrid and electric cars.
  • Level one charging for certain electric cars is available on the first floor of the parking garage.
Parmer Hall
  • The building followed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) criteria in design and construction.
  • 27% of the material used was recycled content and 73% were bought locally, reducing the amount of fuel needed in transportation.
  • Rapidly renewable wood was used in the construction.
  • Sensors in the classrooms adjust the heating, cooling and lighting depending on whether people are in the room.
  • Glass used for the atrium deflects heat and has a pattern preventing birds from flying into it.
  • More trees were replanted on campus than the number removed during construction. Wood from the trees that were cut down was used to make benches and wall crosses.
Permeable Pavers and Bioswale
  • Both provide natural drainage on campus and reduce the water sent to municipal storm sewer system by over 3.6 million gallons per year.
  • Since the water is able to filter through to the roots, the pavers help preserve mature trees and aid growth of new plants.
  • The bioswale, located on the west side of Parmer Hall, contours water around the mature trees and filters silt from the runoff water.
Retrofit of Ventilation System

The 1931 ventilation system in Lewis Hall was altered to air condition the building, allowing the university to remove the inefficient window air conditioners. The retrofit of the system provides better air movement and is more energy efficient.

Recycling and Composting
  • Garbage, recycling and compost are collected daily in separate trucks.
  • Office supplies such as ink cartridges and paper are also recycled.
  • Up to 75% of the construction waste generated by the construction of Parmer Hall was diverted from landfills.
  • Rubble from the demolition of the West Science Building was recycled where possible.
  • Dominican began a pilot composting program in campus offices in 2012.
  • Low Waste events bring the Dominican community together to divert food waste and recycle during events on campus.
  • Dinner composting in our main dining hall launched in 2018 and with student help diverted over 2000 lbs of food from the landfill during the spring semester.

Visit one of the links below to learn more:

Get Involved

Partners in Sustainability

For more information or to get involved, contact Cathy Nichin, sustainability coordinator, or call (708) 524-6897.