Saint Louis University

Frequently Asked Questions

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General Information

Buildings & Grounds

Recycling, Composting & Waste Reduction




Reports & Awards

Still have questions? E-mail us at with any unanswered questions.


General Information

Q:   What is Sustainability?


A:  Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Therefore, to sustain life on planet Earth we must utilize resources in a manner that allows us to thrive without infringing on the ability of future generations to do the same. This entails acting in a manner that promotes economic vitality, environmental conservation, and social equality.

Q:  Are there any student groups on campus I can join related to sustainability?

A:  Yes, there are numerous sustainability groups to join!  Visit SLU Groups to find student groups to join. Our favorite is the Green Billikens!

Q: Where can I find more information about classes related to sustainability?

A: SLU created the Center for Sustainability in order to centralize sustainability graduate courses and research. The Center for Sustainability at Saint Louis University is focused on developing creative, collaborative solutions to the urgent environmental challenges facing society through innovative academic programming, applied research, and regional outreach opportunities. 

Buildings & Grounds

Q:  What does LEED mean? Are there any LEED certified buildings on campus?

A:  LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. They also sponsor professional credentials to help you develop expertise in green building.

The Doisy Research Center is LEED Certified. The Doisy Research Center is a 230,173 square foot, state-of-the-art research facility equipped with an energy-efficient heating and cooling system and furnished with recycled steel, concrete, carpeting, and materials. The facility also includes a green roof, bike racks, showers and locker rooms for employees who ride their bicycles to work. more information

Q:  What is a "green roof"? Does SLU have any?

A:  A "green roof" is a roof that has vegetation growing over it to compensate for the landscaping loss that a building causes. Green roofs can help stabilize temperatures inside and outside the building while providing air filtration.  To learn more, check out this article released in the Post Dispatch or look into Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.

As part of the construction of SLU's Doisy Research Center in 2008, approximately 7,200 square feet of vegetation was installed. This "green roof" is an extensive system (4") and is planted with five varieties of sedum. These varieties were chosen based on their survivability in a vegetative roof environment.

Q:  Do the sprinklers on campus turn off while it's raining?

A: SLU utilizes Rain Bird's Maxicom2 Multi-Site Central Controls Systems on campus. This system monitors local weather data including evapotranspiration rates to determine if irrigation is required, which will suspend irrigation while raining. The Maxicom2 system also employs four rain cans to monitor daily rainfall and suspend or cancel irrigation based on predetermined thresholds.

Recycling, Composting & Waste Reduction

Q:  What is single-stream recycling?

A:  Single-stream recycling is the method in which the consumer places all recyclables, including glass, plastic, aluminum, paper, and cardboard, into a single bin. This eliminates the need to sort the materials making it easier and more user friendly to recycle.

Q:  Does SLU participate in Recyclemania?

A:  Yes, the university has been participating in the national recycling competition since 2011.  Learn more about the competition and how SLU ranks.

Q:  How do I know what to place in the recycle bin?

A:  Many different items can be recycled; it's amazing the number of items that we can collect on campus. For a brief guide and information, click here or if you have a more detailed question, ask your area Custodian, or email

Q:  I'm a faculty or staff employee, I need a recycling bin, how do I get one?

A:  If you need a recycling bin at your desk, ask your area custodian or contact Facilities Services through the FAMIS service request system and place a work order or go to

Q:  How do I know my recyclables are being appropriately managed?

A:  We take recycling very serious on SLU's campus and want to ensure that every item is accounted for and goes to the correct place. 

Typically a custodian will use their trash cart/bin to store both recycling and trash waste using two separate liners - blue for recycling and black or clear for landfill waste. It might look like the recycling is going into the same container, but separating these two forms of trash are important for us.

On occasion food or other non-recyclable items may end up in the recycling containers which contaminates the whole bin, forcing us to throw all of it into our waste containers. Custodial Services has implemented two separate bins for collection to remove any concern over this process. Custodians also receive training about recycling at SLU and are well-equipped to answer questions about this process.

Q:  I've heard I have to rinse my containers before I throw anything in a recycling bin, is this true?

A:  Yes, you should do a quick rinse, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Just make sure you get rid of the majority of the food, so it doesn't contaminate the rest of the recyclables.

Q:  Who manages recycling on campus?

A:  Recycling on campus is a joint effort between several departments within the Division of Facilities Services and the campus community. It all starts with YOU.

Q:  My recycling container says ‘aluminum cans only', I thought we were a single-stream recycling campus?

A:  Oops!  Looks like we missed your bin.  Contact us at so we can place new signage on your bin. 

Q:  Where can I recycle light bulbs or batteries used on campus?

A:  Facilities Management currently recycles light bulbs and batteries used on campus. To request recycling of these items, place a FAMIS service request.

Q:  How can I recycle my old office furniture?

A:  Office furniture can be recycled through Distribution's furniture re-use program. Place a service request through our FAMIS system.

Q:  How can I recycle universal and e-waste?

A:  Universal waste encompasses everything from old computer monitors, appliances, light bulbs, batteries, or anything else with a cord. SLU's Facilities Services division will accept many items, please see our page on e-waste.  When you are ready to have your items picked up, place a FAMIS service request and Distribution Services will pick it up free of charge.

Q:  I'm moving out of my residence hall. What do I do with stuff I don't want?

A:  Trash to Treasure, SLU's move-out initiative uses the resources of the Center for Service and Community Engagement, Facilities Management, Grounds Services, Sustainability & Benchmarking, and Residence Life to divert unwanted move-out items, many of which are sent to local donation centers.  Trash to Treasure is scheduled to take place during finals week in the fall and spring semesters. During the fall program, boxes will be placed inside most of the residence halls. Donations will gradually be brought to central locations and picked up by local non-profits and charities. For the spring program, tents will be set up at strategic locations across campus for donations to be dropped off. 

Q:  What does "cradle-to-cradle" mean?

A:  Cradle-to-cradle all starts and ends with the producer.  Wherever a product is "born" is where it ultimately "dies."   Consider the life of a product: someone makes it and then a consumer purchases it and uses that product until it breaks, runs out, or wears out. Then what? Well, in a cradle-to-cradle system the waste generated by the product goes back to the original producer who can salvage what is left to make the next line of products or recycle and transform it for another use.  This is a sustainable alternative to the more traditional "cradle-to-grave" model where once a consumer is done with a product they simply send it to a landfill and put it "six feet under," so to speak.

Q:  What is "Up-cycling"?

upcycling from CapriSun drink containersA:  We've all heard of "recycling:" when you take a material, break it down to its basic parts/chemicals, and then reform it into something new.  Well, upcycling is similar in that it takes something old and uses it again, but the one key difference is the original item remains relatively intact. Upcycling is a fancy way of saying "I found a new use for this unwanted thing."  Alternative use ideas are often shared across social media platforms such as Pinterest or Upcycle That. The photo here shows an example of upcycling: CapriSun drink containers have been transformed into a purse.


Q:  Does the University use Green Cleaning products?

A:  Yes, check out our policy on Green Cleaning. The University switched to using green cleaning products in March of 2008, formalizing what was already being done through a policy written and approved in the Fall of 2011.

Q:  What does Green Seal mean?

A:  Green Seal certified cleaning products contain: no carcinogens, toxins or other restricted compounds, no asthma-causing ingredients and limits to VOCs. Green Seal products are biodegradable and non-toxic to aquatic life. Green Seal certifies products based on life-cycle sustainability standards and recognized as a Type-I Eco-label. The EPA advocates for use of Green Seal cleaning products.

Q:  What does EcoLogo mean? Does the University use any EcoLogo products?

A:  The EcoLogoTM program is a product certification program that is recognized as a Type-I Eco-label by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), certifying environmental leaders using sustainable products. To receive certification, products are compared to others within specific categories and scientifically tested by relevant criteria throughout their life-cycle.

SLU uses Tork© (towel, tissue and napkin) paper products certified by EcoLogoTM - the "Environmental Choice." More information about purchasing.


Q:  Does the University produce any green energy or renewable energy resources?

A:  SLU completed the installation of 9 solar arrays throughout campus during the summer of 2015. These solar arrays are estimated to divert 191 metric tons of CO2 from the University's current power system.  However the University's utility providers do participate in many sustainability practices, Laclede Gas & Ameren Missouri

Q:  How do I report an office that is too hot or too cold?

A:  You can place a service request in our FAMIS system by clicking here

Q:  Does the university track my energy usage?

A:  Facilities Services is in the process of implementing the FAMIS Utilities module which will allow for a more complete and concise collection of SLU's utility data. Individual metered building data is currently provided by the local utility providers for those SLU buildings on separate meters. We are also in the process of sub-metering additional buildings that have consolidated utility data bundled together under one meter. This will provide the opportunity to collect and analyze the data and make better energy-related decisions.

Q:  What is Facilities doing to help reduce energy usage on campus?

A:  Saint Louis University uses Metasys for building automation and control. The system has been configured to enable night setbacks as well as unoccupied and local operation of remote buildings. This is a Johnson Controls system that is used to turn air handlers and pumps on and off according to the scheduling needs for a particular building or zone within a building. Building occupancy needs are determined by academic, event, research, and administrative users for each building or zone. The equipment schedules are optimized to prevent unnecessary run-time, which is why communication with these users is vital to running the most efficient system possible, which assists in reducing energy consumption.

Q:  Who turns off the lights at night?

A:  Dual technology lighting sensors using infrared and ultrasonic detection have been installed and are used to control lighting in classrooms, conference rooms, and restrooms. For any room still equipped with a manual light switch, we ask that you turn the light off when you are the last one to leave the room of if you see a room not in use.

Q:  What other utility efficiency projects are being done around campus?

A:  LED lighting is being implemented in many lighting projects including, but not limited to: mounted exterior lights, chandeliers, private offices, banquet rooms, track lighting, and parking lots. The conversion to LED technology in Busch Student Center alone has reduced energy usage from 44,136 watts to 5,526 watts. Large multipurpose banquet rooms and common areas were primary targets for LED retrofits. The result was an estimated energy savings of $13,000 per year.

Vending Miser equipment has been installed on vending machines to manage lighting and compressor cooling cycles. The local electric utility supplier, Ameren MO, awarded SLU with an incentive rebate of $10,500 for the purchase and installation 105 units installed on refrigerated soda vending machines. This installation is estimated to save $10,229 by reducing energy usage by 157,000 kWh annually.

For more information on utility efficiency projects happening at SLU, including energy and water, click here.


Q:  How can I get to and from SLU's campus without a car?

A:  Visit Transportation Services' transportation options page to learn about the wide-variety of alternative methods available to the SLU community.

Q:  Where can I find more information on what SLU is doing for providing alternative transportation methods?

A:  Transportation Services is committed to providing information about alternative methods for traveling to, on, and around campus. Check out alternative transportation methods here.

Reports & Awards

Q:  What is STARS?

A:  The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating SystemTM (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS® was developed by AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education), with broad participation from the higher education community.

For SLU's performance click here.

Q:  What is the Green Report Card?

A:  The Green Report Card was designed to identify colleges and universities that are leading by example in their commitment to sustainability. The aim was to provide accessible information for schools to learn from one another's experiences, enabling them to establish more effective sustainability policies. The Green Report Card is a program that has been canceled and has been replaced by STARS.

For more questions email or submit feedback on the FS customer feedback page.

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