At Saint Martin’s, you’ll find a community that embraces sustainability in the way we live together as a university community, rooted in our Benedictine beginnings over 120 years ago. The heritage passed on to us is a value we cherish in our practices, our pedagogy, and our university priorities.
A history of sustainability
From the beginning, the abbey and school have endeavored to be entirely self-sufficient. For nearly half a century, Saint Martin’s operated a farm that raised sheep, chickens, dairy cows, pigs, turkeys, and ducks. Fresh milk, eggs, and cheese were daily provisions supplied from the farm. Vegetables ranging from beans to turnips were harvested before meals, beehives kept fresh honey on the table and fresh raspberries, apples, pears and cherries provided for a range of sauces, jams and desserts on campus.
The farm is now all but a memory—but Saint Martin’s continues to source its food with the Benedictine values of sustainability at heart. To that end, Saint Martin’s has partnered with Bon Apétit, who supplies local, ethically grown and raised food, which is both sustainable to the environment and to the local economy.
New Cebula Hall
Completed in 2012, Cebula Hall houses Saint Martin’s engineering labs and features unique collaborative work environments for students to maximize their educational experience. This building, recognized as the highest-rated LEED Platinum project in the United States, incorporates a number of building learning features that exhibit systems relevant to all our engineering programs.
Quick facts about Cebula Hall
- Features the third-highest-ranked LEED Platinum certification in the world
- Saves energy through geothermal and solar sources
- Boasts five labs, over a dozen offices, and several classrooms and conference rooms
- Uses less than half of the water of a non-LEED certified building of the same size
Oikos Learning Community
Greek for “home”, Oikos is a residential learning community of first-year students that live intentionally together on a floor of one of our residential halls. They share UNI 101, a first-year seminar that develops a literacy of sustainability through English and Communications curriculum, exploring what it means to be both local and global citizens. The community learns and grows together outside of the classroom and residence, as they initiate and participate in service projects, workshops, and trips.
Student sustainability initiatives
Students are leading the way in creating a culture of sustainability. Forming a campus club in 2013, students travelled to the Washington Higher Education Sustainability Coalition annual conference and brought back plans to increase sustainability awareness on campus. After presenting at Scholars Day that year, students secured the funding to install hydration stations around campus, reducing disposable plastic bottle waste and cutting unncessary expenses on bottled water. Since then, students have led composting education programs, coordinated nature hikes, and managed recycling and waste management at major events such as the Dragon Boat Festival.
The Learning Garden
Snugly tucked up against Old Main’s western wall, the Learning Garden is a community gardening and learning space. Through it, students experience an outdoor classroom that promotes sustainability in our relationships with one another, with our environment, and with our food. In the spring, weekly workshops open to the campus community, where instructors demonstrate such things as efficient mulching and composting, systems thinking in permaculture, and the interconnectivity of continental food sources.
Working behind-the-scenes is a committee of enthusiastic faculty, students, monks, and staff at Saint Martin’s University. This committee consists of volunteers who meet monthly to take steps toward growing the practical values of sustainability across campus. Interested in joining? Contact Irina Gendleman, Ph.D., for information about the next meeting.