Green Initiatives

Sustainability has been a part of the fabric of Dominican University since its founding and it will continue to move the university forward. Caring for the Earth’s resources and people throughout the world is part of Dominican’s mission statement to “participate in the creation of a more just and humane world.” Students, faculty and staff are involved in sustainability when they recycle, compost, ride their bike to work, reuse items and conserve resources. The university has taken larger 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. 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, the sustainability coordinator, at or (708) 524-6897.


Dominican University’s bike-share program –bikeDU – allows students, staff and faculty access to a bike at the [Ride for a Day] or [Ride for a Semester] level. The program is a free 1st generation bike-sharing system for recreation and transportation purposes powered by the best alternative fuel: You!

Bike2Campus Week

Second Friday of every October – 10 day campus cycle celebration.
Part challenge, part competition, Dominican University rivals other Chicagoland colleges/institutions to earn ‘Top Cycle Campus’ and ultimate bragging rights. Throughout the week, DU hosts safe, fun and engaging bicycle events where the campus can earn goodies and giveaways from some supporting sponsors. Every ride counts and DU participants can log their trips at

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.

Cistern and irrigation

  • The university uses an existing cistern, a large water tank that was built in the 1920s, to collect rainwater from the buildings. The water is used for the irrigation of campus and in the air conditioning system in Parmer Hall.
  • The cistern also gathers water that is pumped out of the basement of one of the residence halls.
  • Because of the cistern system, Dominican has reduced the amount of potable water purchased by 4-6 million gallons per 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.

Geothermal and Solar

Dominican completed a feasibility study on the use of geothermal and solar energy on campus. Analysis of the study and grant funding opportunities are in process.

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

Community Garden

Dominican’s community garden is located on the east side of the Priory Campus, 7200 W. Division Street. Dominican volunteers maintain the garden throughout the summer and a portion of the harvest is donated to the local food pantry in the fall. For more information or to help in the garden, contact

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 transportion.
  • 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.