Sustainability Initiatives at F&M

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We pride ourselves on looking at every possible angle to create a more sustainable future for both the campus and the world. Explore initiatives on campus to see how we exhibit current advances in sustainable ideas and technology. 


We are always on the lookout to reduce the amount of trash produced on campus. We implemented several initiatives in order to maximize waste-saving efforts, including:

  • Improving recycling on campus by using a single stream recycling system, with which all recyclables — including newspaper, cardboard, plastic, and aluminum — are placed in a single bin.
  • Reducing paper towels by installing 20 energy-efficient Dyson Airblade Hand Dryers throughout campus. These units help reduce environmental impacts by greatly reducing carbon dioxide output that occurs from the production, transportation, and disposal of paper towels.
  • Eliminating plastic water bottles by no longer selling plastic water bottles on campus. Students are given reusable BPA-free water bottles that can be filled at one of 40+ bottle-filling stations around campus. In the first year of the initiative, the bottle fillers dispensed the equivalent of 458,501 (16 oz.) water bottles.
  • Implementing composting on campus so organic matter and paper that previously would have been considered trash are now captured and turned into a usable product.


Trash generated on campus is collected by members of F&M’s Facilities and Operations using the College’s trash truck. The refuse is then taken to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA) Transfer Station, less than one mile from campus.  The majority of the refuse brought to that facility is transported to the Lancaster Waste-to-Energy Facility in the south of Lancaster County, where the refuse is incinerated to generate electricity. 


In an effort to reduce the amount of trash that is produced, F&M began single stream recycling in 2013. With this change, we converted all existing bins on campus, added additional collection locations, and designed new signage to create a uniform seamless system.


Food waste from both students and the kitchen of F&M’s dining hall are collected and composted. F&M collects nearly 3,800 lbs. of compostable materials each week. We work with two local companies to transport and compost the food waste Environmental Recovery Corporation and Terra-Gro. Some of the compost returns to F&M for use on our campus grounds, including Sponaugle-Williamson Field where organic compost was applied to help build healthier turf. 


Local Food in Campus Dining 

F&M’s food service provider, Sodexo, strives to incorporate local food whenever possible. The majority of their produce is sourced and purchased locally and they take pride in partnering with local businesses such as Hershey’s Chocolate in Hershey, Pa., Sweet Street Desserts in Reading, Pa., and Harrisburg Dairies in Harrisburg. Organic and Kosher meats and dairy products are available to students on a regular basis as well as Fair Trade and sustainably-sourced coffee.

Sustainable Products

In addition to the continued drive towards sustainable food, Sodexo works to make other aspects of the dining experience more sustainable as well. All dining locations use spudware utensils (80% potato starch and 20% soy) as well as a combination of paper, bagasse (pulp from sugar resin) and PLA (a type of polyester made from fermented plant starch from corn, cassava, maize, sugarcane or sugar beet pulp) in all locations for our plates, containers, cups, lids and straws. These items are biodegradable and can be composted, turning them from waste into a usable product. 

Food Recovery Challenge

F&M is among 25 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania participating in the Food Recovery Challenge, a federal program created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Food Recovery Challenge aims to reduce as much food waste as possible, save money, help communities, and protect the environment. At F&M, we monitor food production and adjust volumes to reduce waste at the source. All other food waste is composted, preventing the product from entering the waste stream.

The Fair Trade Café

Run by students, the Fair Trade Café offers grilled cheese and vegan soups every Wednesday, bringing students, faculty, and professional staff together over great food and discussion. The café sources the food locally from sustainable producers.

The Dirt Army

Borrowing its name from the Victory Gardens of WWII, the Dirt Army was created in 2009 to showcase the benefits of organic food production and sustainable agricultural practices. As part of the student organization Environmental Action Alliance, the Dirt Army educates students about the food system and helps to supply produce to the Fair Trade Café.  


We’re committed to decreasing energy consumption and emissions while at the same time pursuing alternative energy sources and making current systems more efficient. Goals in the Sustainability Master Plan include reducing consumption of fossil fuels and increasing use of energy-efficient and recycled equipment and materials.


We work vigilantly to reduce electricity usage throughout campus. The College looks at energy reduction from all angles to ensure as great of savings as possible. Some the initiatives we have implemented to reduce the College’s electrical footprint include:

LED Lighting

LED lighting serves to reduce electrical usage while still providing high-quality illumination both outdoors and in the classroom. The LED lighting projects installed in 2013 and 2014 are expected to reduce F&M’s electricity usage by 2 million kilowatt hours per year.

Solar Panels on Campus

F&M has two photovoltaic systems (systems that absorb the sun’s light and convert solar energy into electricity) installed on campus, serving to promote the use of renewable energy technologies on campus and in the greater Lancaster community. The larger array (a 30.36 kW system) is installed on top of the William M. Hackman Physical Sciences Laboratories. A smaller solar array (300 square feet) sits atop the roof of F&M’s Sustainability House. Both systems help to generate electricity on site and reduce the College’s carbon footprint.    

Occupancy Sensors

F&M has installed occupancy sensors throughout campus in an effort to reduce electricity usage while spaces are not in use.

Energy Star Equipment

As equipment ages and is cycled out of use, we are committed to replacing appliances and other electronics with energy efficient units. We purchase Energy Star Appliances whenever possible in a continued effort to reduce campus electricity usage.

Heating and Cooling

In 2009 and 2010, F&M replaced the boiler and chiller with higher efficiency units. This helped to greatly reduce the amount of natural gas and electricity used on campus. F&M has also been steadily replacing oil furnaces in builds not connected to the central plant. The oil furnaces are removed and replaced with much more efficient natural gas units that use fewer resources and have fewer emissions.


In order to increase the sustainability of our campus, we adopted guidelines to promote the conservation of energy. For interior spaces, the guidelines are:

Occupied Space

Heating Season: 70 degrees

Cooling Season: 75 degrees

Unoccupied Space

Heating Season: 62 degrees

Cooling Season: 83 degrees


Heating Season: +/- 2 degrees

Cooling Season: +/- 2 degrees

Over break periods, we further curtail heating and cooling in areas that are unoccupied. This helps to reduce energy consumption while spaces are not in use.


We seek to be a responsible steward of its water resources by focusing on efficiency, cultivating a climate-adapted landscape, minimizing potable water irrigation and effectively managing waste water.

Conserving Water

The College has installed aerators in sinks and showers as well as low flow toilets throughout campus. This helps to reduce the amount of water used by the College on a daily basis. 

Reducing Stormwater

The College employs rain gardens, catch basins, green roofs and pervious paving to help reduce stormwater on campus and mitigate its impacts on the nearby Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

Buildings and Grounds

Sustainability has been blended into every inch of F&M’s campus. Many steps have been taken in building and construction to make F&M a more sustainable campus. 

Sustainable Buildings on Campus

The Center for the Sustainable Environment (CSE) has many environmentally friendly and sustainable features. Inside are carpets made from recycled plastic bottles and recycled car tires, reclaimed hardwood flooring, recycled cork flooring, American Clay walls, dual-flush toilets, and Mythic paint (non-toxic, zero-volatile organic compounds (VOC) paint). The CSE — along with the Bonchek, Brooks, and Weis College House Commons and Schnader Hall — also features a green roof. Green roofs improve air quality and increase energy efficiency with their thermal properties. 

The Sustainability House, a residential housing option, and the William M. Hackman Physical Sciences Laboratories both have active, energy producing solar panels. 

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

F&M is committed to meeting or exceeding LEED Silver building standards for all new buildings and renovations on campus. LEED is the rating system used by the U.S. Green Building Council to measure a building’s sustainability and resource-efficiency. 

We have several buildings on campus that satisfy LEED Silver equivalent guidelines:

  • The Patricia E. Harris Center for Business, Government & Public Policy
  • The Brooks College House Commons
  • The Bonchek College House Commons
  • The Ware College House Commons
  • The Weis College House Commons
  • The Klehr Center for Jewish Life
  • F&M’s Day Care Center

All spaces have high-efficiency sinks and toilets, furnishings made from recycled fabrics, motion sensored lights, and perforated storm pipes.

Three buildings on campus — Roschel College House, Shadek Stadium, and the Susan and Benjamin Winter Visual Arts Center (WVAC) — earned LEED Silver certifications. 

Roschel College House

F&M’s Roschel College House was the first LEED-certified building on campus. Designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects LLP and completed in April 2011, Roschel College House incorporates numerous features to conserve energy and water and to reduce emissions and waste. Roschel College House achieved an 18 percent reduction in energy cost savings with its design. Inside are bamboo floors, an induction stove, motion-sensing lights, and low-VOC paint and caulk. Along the perimeter are rain gardens that help reduce stormwater on campus.

Shadek Stadium

The Shadek Stadium, home to F&M’s football and lacrosse teams, received the 2018 U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Central Pennsylvania Award for Innovative Project New Construction, and is LEED Silver-certified. Native and adaptive plants have been utilized along with appropriate grass seed/sod and wildflower meadow mixes to eliminate the need for irrigation around the stadium. 

The Susan and Benjamin Winter Visual Arts Center (WVAC)

The WVAC’s natural illumination and ventilation, along with active slab heating and cooling, contribute to its LEED status. The WVAC was designed by architect Steven Holl and earned The Architect’s Newspaper 2020 Best of Design Award in the institutional / higher education category. It also was a finalist for overall Project of the Year. 

Reducing Stormwater on Campus

Rain Gardens

To help capture runoff from buildings and impervious areas, the College utilizes catchment basins and rain gardens throughout campus. The rain gardens around Roschel College House and in the Race Avenue parking lot hold rainwater to be slowly released into the groundwater table.

Porous Paving Around Campus

With its rain gardens, gabions and porous asphalt, the Race Avenue parking lot is the only parking area on campus that contains all rainwater on site, thereby eliminating runoff into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Admission parking lot and the Weis College House Pathway are also constructed with porous asphalt.

Green Roofs on Campus

Green roofs reduce energy required to cool and heat buildings, and retain water to decrease runoff during rainstorms. F&M has just over 13,500 square feet of green roofs across five buildings on campus.  

Integrated Pest Management

We employ integrated pest management throughout campus, a method that manages pests and weeds without using pesticides. This approach monitors the trees and plants for insects, diseases of foliage, and diseases of soil, ensuring the continued health of the campus arboretum while protecting the environment.

Campus Conservancies

Caroline Steinman Nunan Arboretum

The college lands have been formally recognized as the Caroline Steinman Nunan Arboretum. The arboretum is home to more than 1,000 trees with over 120 different species. 

Learn more about the Nunan Arboretum

Spalding Conservancy

An 50-acre, urban conservancy less than one mile from campus named in honor of the late F&M President Keith Spalding and his wife, Dorothy "Dot" Spalding. The Conservancy is adjacent to F&M's sports fields at Baker Campus, one mile northwest of the main college campus on Harrisburg Pike. The Conservancy is bounded on the north by a railway line, on the west by the Little Conestoga Creek, on the south by suburban development, and on the east by the sports fields. Secondary forest, grasslands, and wetlands form the basis of the Conservancy's ecosystems. 

Franklin & Marshall College purchased the land in 1980 and it was designated as the Spalding Conservancy in 2013. It has a varied land use history beginning with Pre-European forests and Native American settlements. Paleo-Indians arrived in Pennsylvania between 20,000 and 12,000 years ago. During the Woodland Period (1000 B.C. to 1600 A.D.), the Lancaster area was inhabited by the Shenks Ferry Native Americans. At the time of European contact, the area was occupied by the Susquehannock people, also referred to as the Conestoga Indians.

By 1720 most of Lancaster County was settled by Europeans and the Baker Campus area was farmed until 1920. Osage Orange hedgerow trees still mark former farm boundaries, and the remains of a lime kiln recalls lime burning for agricultural and other uses. From 1920-1980, the Lancaster Brickworks company used local clay to produce bricks on the site. Numerous industrial buildings were erected and waste bricks can still be found throughout parts of the Conservancy. The land's uneven topography reflects the location of former clay pits, some later filled with municipal waste from Lancaster City.

By the late 1970s much of the brickmaking work was finished and most of the buildings were leveled. Natural vegetation was allowed to grow up and has since covered the property. Small streams feed the wetland area, and the College expanded the wetlands in 2013, adding a boardwalk system to facilitate their study in both teaching and research.

The Spalding Conservancy property has been used in F&M College coursework and research since the 1980s, primarily by faculty in the Biology and Earth and Environment departments.  The Art and Art History Department has also used the site for outdoor sculpture class projects. It is a natural laboratory for observing and interpreting land use change, hydrology, flora and fauna studies, and geological processes, as well as an ideal site for focusing discussions about land preservation, conservation, native versus introduced species, and a myriad of other topics across a range of disciplines. 

Education and Outreach

F&M’s Center for the Sustainable Environment (CSE) unites the many interests and initiatives relating to global environmental stewardship and sustainability on campus. The Center coordinates efforts to enrich the F&M academic experience with concepts of environmental stewardship and sustainability. 

Learn more about CSE

Sustainable Transportation

An important step to sustainability is changing the way that we travel from place to place, whether it be to Central Market in downtown Lancaster or getting home during the breaks. 

While Lancaster is a walkable city with many restaurants and shops located less than a mile from campus, we also offer alternatives that can help limit the amount of harmful gas emissions. 

A Bicycle Friendly Campus

F&M was designated ‘Bicycle Friendly’ by the National Bicyclist Group. Our bike loan program provides free bicycles for students to use during the semester. Students are also more than welcome to bring their own bikes to campus. There are plenty of outdoor bike racks to store and lock bikes, two bike repair stations on campus with pumps, and two bike shops within a mile of campus, including Common Wheel, a nonprofit bike center led by an F&M alumna.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations

F&M installed Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations in the College Square, Winter Visual Arts Center (WVAC), and Williamson parking lots. The stations are rated at a level two setting, meaning that they charge at a faster rate than residential chargers. The stations are open for us to the F&M and greater Lancaster community, free of charge. 

Shuttles and Buses

We offer free on-campus shuttle services to both libraries, several of the residence halls, and various off-campus housing locations. Our shuttles also provide a link to Lancaster, offering free transportation to nearby grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as downtown Lancaster, Target, Walmart, and the mall. We also offer transportation to Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport at the end of each semester for a fee. Local buses of the Red Rose Transit Authority also serve the F&M campus, and OurBus runs buses from Lancaster to New York City on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.