Marian Catholic Announces Environmental Plan: ‘Caring for God’s Resources’

Generation Green, MCHS, 2011
Leadership from Marian Catholic’s Generation Green, along with co-moderators and members of the Board of Directors ad hoc Environmental Committee, discuss the “Caring for God’s Resources” plan at a recent meeting. Seating is Don Murday, Carlee Wieser ’11 (Schererville, Ind.), and Johnathon Brodeur ’12 (Steger). Standing is Jennifer Clifford ’88, Tona Haywood, Jarrett Long ’12 (Steger), Ellen Collins ’12 (Frankfort), Megan Murday ’11 (Frankfort), Peg Massucci, and Will Chapleau ’73. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Chicago Heights, IL–(ENEWSPF)– “Marian Catholic High School believes organizations, like individuals, must assume responsibility as tenants of Earth. The goal is to create an environment that protects God’s resources and perpetuates a sustainable ecological cycle. Marian Catholic’s goal as a learning institution is to challenge students to become profoundly involved in developing and sustaining continuous ecological lifestyles while fostering that growth through personal actions and choices.”

-Adopted by the Marian Catholic Board of Directors at their April 2011 meeting, the Caring for God’s Resourcesplan is a campus-wide initiative with two main goals.

Goal 1. Reduce Marian Catholic’s Carbon Footprint

In collaboration with Legacy Environmental Services of Indiana, Marian Catholic has identified specific ways to reduce its carbon footprint, primarily through concentrated efforts to reduce fuel consumption, implementing fleet modernization over time, and reducing overall vehicle use by 5-10%. Pledging to use cleaner fuel options where possible and instituting a “no idling” policy on campus adds to emissions reduction.

Secondly, conservation of gas and electricity, including installation of energy-saving light fixtures throughout the school, a tank-less hot water heater, and solar panel system. Energy-saving light fixtures were installed first in both gyms, and replacement fixtures are being phased in for classrooms and hallways.

Solar Panel
A storage building north of Spartan Stadium is where energy producing solar panels are installed. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

According to Harvey Mazur, Marian’s Facility Engineer, installing a tank-less hot water heater has significantly reduced energy consumption. “The old system kept 500 gallons of water heated for use in washrooms, the cafeteria, and locker rooms. Now we can cycle hot water faster than ever using a fraction of the energy, and it takes up much less space in the boiler room,” he explained. 

A newly installed solar panel on a storage building roof at the north end of the football stadium now produces power, while monitoring software (loaded on the Marian website) tallies kilowatts generated.

“The solar panel is not only an environmentally-friendly technology,” says Science teachers and Generation Green co-moderators Jen Clifford ’88 and Tona Haywood. “It provides real-time information and concrete instructional materials right here on the Marian campus.”

Grant funding for Marian’s solar panel came from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

tankless hot water
A new, energy efficient, tank-less system provides the entire Marian Catholic campus with hot water on demand. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Stepped up efforts at recycling paper, plastic, and aluminum cans have been implemented with help from Generation Green, the high profile student group dedicated to educating everyone on campus about recycling and energy conservation options. The group has posted “Power Down” reminder signs near light switches in the building, creating a culture of conservation throughout the campus including classrooms, offices, larger spaces and hallways.

By raising awareness and encouraging volunteerism among students, staff, parents and alumni to effectively achieve, manage and measure conservation goals, Generation Green is committed to reducing Marian’s carbon footprint.

Goal 2. Solid Waste Reduction

Partnering with Skyline Disposal of Chicago Heights, Marian Catholic will reduce its solid waste and significantly increase recycling by separating used paper into categories; clean recyclables and cardboards/newspapers. Marian staff conserves paper use and prints on both sides of paper when possible. Separating recyclables may help reduce final disposal costs.

The Zero Waste Project came to fruition through a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, providing a multitude of recycling containers and educational materials.

With an atmosphere of “Every item that can be recycled should be recycled” throughout the campus, Marian Catholic’s ultimate goal is to succeed in having zero waste. This includes extensive training for students and staff, along with opportunities to take leadership roles in record keeping, progress review, research, emergency preparedness and response planning, along with both internal and external communication.

“The momentum is building,” said Will Chapleau ’73, Chair of the ad hoc Environmental Committee of the Board of Directors. “The students and staff have come a long way in their recycling efforts over the past few years, and with continued encouragement, we should have no trouble attaining our goals.”