Loyola Chicago launches School of Environmental Sustainability as a research center

Loyola University Chicago boosted its commitment to addressing environmental and climate change issues with the unveiling Dec. 14 of its new School of Environmental Sustainability. The school, Loyola's 11th, upgrades the status of its seven-year-old Institute for Environmental Sustainability, which already was one of only a handful of such programs at U.S. Catholic colleges. It is the first environmental sustainability school in the global Jesuit academic network.

The new school's 3,100-foot "ecodome" greenhouse serves as a learning environment for students, while its sloped roof collects rainwater for reuse, after ultraviolet disinfection, in the greenhouse and for flushing toilets.

The School of Environmental Sustainability and adjacent San Francisco residence hall are also heated and cooled by the Chicago region's largest geothermal energy system, which circulates water through pipes from 91 wells — each 500 feet underground, where temperatures remain around 57 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.

The water draws heat from the surrounding soil in the winter to warm the buildings, while the soil cools the water in the summer. "So the earth is acting almost like a battery where it holds that heat energy for us. And we need it in the winter, but we pack it back in, we recharge it again all summer long," Tuchman said.

Glass panels on the ground level allow students and visitors to see the geothermal system in action, as digital thermometers trace the temperature of the water during its journey. 

Read more at NCR Online (Brian Roewe)

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