Initiatives and Projects for a Sustainable Campus

Reducing Waste and Protecting Natural Spaces in Annapolis

Our campus is nestled between the bustling streets of the city of Annapolis and the languid, flowing waters of College Creek. We are acutely aware of the importance of our physical environment’s impact on both the college community and our neighbors in the surrounding city, which is why our campus participates in a number of initiatives and partnerships to ensure our natural spaces endure for future generations of Johnnies. Read on to learn more about our efforts, which range from oyster farming and geothermal heating and cooling to food recovery designed to address food insecurity in our community.

Maryland Green Registry Membership

Since 2018, St. John’s college has been a member of the Maryland Green Registry, which promotes and recognizes sustainable practices at organizations in the state. Member orgs agree to share at least five environmental practices and one measurable result while striving to continually improve their environmental performance.

Campus Gardens and Green Spaces

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  • There are several gardens and green spaces on campus, including the Greenfield Library plaza and sunken garden, and a garden near Hodson House.
  • The student-run Garden Club helps maintain and improve garden spaces on campus.

Energy Conservation

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  • Residential buildings Spector Hall and Gilliam Hall are both heated and cooled with a geothermal system. There are more than one hundred 6-inch “wells” located approximately 300 feet underneath the soccer field and in front of the tennis courts on campus.
  • We have installed reflective white roofing on Pinkney and Chase-Stone buildings and part of Mellon Hall. These roofs help reduce the amount of heat absorbed into buildings during the hot summer months.
  • We have installed interior window inserts in Randall and McDowell to decrease heating and cooling loss and minimize drafts
  • Upgraded 95 percent of McDowell Hall and Randall Hall lighting to LED during the last renovation
  • Ongoing project to retrofit existing campus with LED technology during routine maintenance
  • Campus boilers utilize two fuel sources which allow us to switch to an alternate fuel during peak gas demand days
  • Mellon Hall utilizes an ice bank storage system to produce ice during off-peak hours when electricity demand is lower, then uses this ice during the day for cooling, reducing chiller loads
  • Installed high efficiency variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heating and cooling system in Randall Hall dorm rooms
  • We use building automation software (BAS) to remotely monitor room temperatures and set run times for large air handlers based on scheduled uses, reducing the amount of power spent during off-peak times

Water Conservation and Stewardship

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  • There are several bottle filling stations on campus. The college is working to install new stations in the campus residence halls.
  • Replaced 80 percent of bottled water coolers with directly plumbed countertop dispensers, saving money and decreasing our carbon footprint by reducing water delivery.
  • Between Spector Hall and the Heating Plant are rain gardens, filled with native plants and flowers planted in a small depression which holds and absorbs rainwater runoff from roofs and paved surfaces, reducing pollution in College Creek. They were installed in 2002 and made possible by a gift from the Annapolis Class of 1993.

Living Shoreline and Oyster Garden Project

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  • In 2006, the college worked with an engineer from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to renovate the shoreline at College Creek. This work stabilized the marsh and created a strong buffer against erosion. Each year volunteers from the campus community clean up the shoreline and keep it healthy.
  • Since September of 2019, St. John’s staff and student boathouse stewards have been growing oysters off the Hodson Boathouse docks, joining in a wider community effort to restore the bay.

Food Waste and Sustainable Practices

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  • Our dining hall provides locally-source ingredients whenever possible. In a normal year, between 20–30 percent of food from local sources annually. These foods include eggs, honey, flour, lettuce, beef, tofu, and yogurt, among others.
  • The college composts food waste twice a week in partnership with an outside vendor
  • Our reusable green food container program (affectionately known as “greenies”) saves hundreds of pounds of waste each year compared to disposable container usage.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available daily.
  • Food Recovery: Each week, student volunteers deliver leftover and over-produced foods to The Lighthouse shelter in Annapolis. Weekly donations average between 30 and 50 pounds, and directly address food insecurity in our community.

Sustainable Tree Harvesting

  • Piloted an environmentally friendly urban tree harvest—removed an expired white oak for later use in campus furniture projects

Sustainability / Environmentally Focused Student Clubs

  • Garden Club
  • Sunrise St. John’s

Work With Other Organizations

St. John’s College works with several local organizations regarding immediate and future environmental projects:

  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation – Living Shoreline restoration project for 2023
  • City of Annapolis – Bike path connections and campus access