Office of Sustainability

Chatham University's Office of Sustainability coordinates with University departments, faculty, and student groups to take steps to a more sustainable living, learning, and working environment for the campus community.

As a signatory of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, Chatham has pledged to work toward carbon neutrality. You can follow our progress on the Second Nature Reporting Platform.

Through the work of a committee comprised of faculty, staff, and students, the University completed its baseline greenhouse gas emissions inventory in 2007. In 2008, a Climate Action Plan was created that outlines the University's goals for reaching carbon neutrality by 2025.

1869 – Chartered as Pennsylvania Female College, beginning with a ten-and-a-half-acre campus. The college’s 1870 prospectus reads: “For beauty of situation, for taste displayed in improvement, and for healthfulness, the location cannot be improved upon.”

1890 – The college’s name is changed to Pennsylvania College for Women.

1929 – Rachel Carson graduates with a degree in biology and will go on to write Silent Spring, published in 1962, alerting the public to the dangers of pesticide overuse.

1955 – The college’s name changes again, this time to Chatham College.

1989 – The Rachel Carson Institute (RCI) was established to continue the legacy of Chatham's most distinguished alumna by promoting the awareness and understanding of significant and current environmental issues through national and regional conferences, debates, lecture series, seminars, panel discussions, and other educational programs.

1993 – The environmental studies program is added to the college’s academic offerings.

1997 – The environmental education degree is offered.

2007 – The college’s landscape architecture program receives accreditation.

2007 – Chatham College is granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and becomes Chatham University.

2007 – Chatham signs the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) agreement.

2007 – Chatham University creates a Sustainability Office and hires its first Sustainability Coordinator.

2008 – Chatham University acquires Eden Hall Farm and Eastside campuses.

2009 – The Climate Action Plan is released with a goal of reducing Chatham’s carbon emissions to zero by the year 2025.

2009 – The University established the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment. The new School will provide ground–breaking and innovative, interdisciplinary education and research opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to better prepare them to identify and solve challenges related to the environment and sustainability.

2010 – The master planning process began for Chatham's Eden Hall Campus with the sustainability-focused firms BNIM and Andropogon.

2012 – Chatham submits its first STARS report, and receives a Gold ranking.

2015 – Chatham’s second STARS Gold rating is received.

2016 – Chatham University developed and launched the Center for Regional Agriculture, Food, and Transportation (CRAFT) to provide the community with research and information on food

2018 – Chatham is carbon-neutral for Scope 2! 

2018 – Chatham receives its 3rd Gold STARS rating. 

2018 – Chatham joins the Pittsburgh 2030 District, adopting the 2030 transportation, energy and waste reduction goals.

2019 – Chatham University ranks #4 for The Princeton Review's Green Honor Roll, by receiving a score of 99 -- the highest possible score.

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS looks at all aspects of a university’s commitment to sustainability including academics, engagement, operations, planning & administration, and innovation & leadership. Currently, Chatham University is in the top ten gold schools out of over 800 schools in STARS.

As a charter signatory of the Climate Commitment, Chatham is committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2025. We hit an important benchmark in 2018, becoming net-zero in our Scope 2 electric emissions. To meet this goal, Chatham has been purchasing renewable energy certificates since 2002 and is now also making our own solar electric with our arrays at Eden Hall. Since signing in 2007, enrollment and building square footage have increased over 45% and 36%, respectively; yet during this rapid growth, we have decreased our Scopes 1+2+3 emissions. 

Get Involved

Want to do your part for sustainability? Explore our opportunities for ways that you can give back to the campus community.

Climate Committee

The mission of the Chatham University Campus Climate Commitment Committee is to reduce the University's carbon footprint and achieve sustainability in energy use as described in the Climate Commitment with communication and involvement of the entire Chatham community.

The Climate Committee membership includes faculty, staff, and students of Chatham University who come together biweekly to discuss and plan initiatives to keep Chatham moving towards becoming a carbon neutral campus. The committee includes four subcommittees that work on specialized programming for campus. These committees are: Alternative Transportation, Waste Reduction, Energy, and Outreach.

The committee now includes resiliency as a goal of the committee and have incorporated our Second Nature Climate Commitment resilience initiatives under this same umbrella. The student-run Eden Hall Resiliency Committee is a self-convening group that works with this group as a subcommittee.


There are many clubs on campus that support the Office of Sustainability’s goal of promoting sustainable behavior on and off campus. Do you want to feel like you are a part of the change Chatham is making? Join one of these clubs to help support Chatham’s sustainability mission!

Chatham Green Team

The purpose of the organization shall be to teach the students of Chatham University sustainable practices and to propose environmentally friendly options campus wide.

Advisor: Mary Utter

Primary Contact: Taylor Pelow  

Clean Air Group of Chatham University

The purpose of the organization shall be to provide a space for students to discuss and educate each other on current and local air pollution issues. The Clean Air Group of Chatham University. Each meeting's purpose will be to review one of the nine units of “Groups of 10” material provided by the Clean Air Council, facilitate discussion about the topic and take an action step.

Advisor: Melissa Bell 

Primary Contact: Anna Ecklund 

Climate Change Reality Corps: Chatham University

Our mission is to catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society.

Advisor: Jessica Bartko 

Primary Contact: Connor Fankhouser

G3 - Graduates Go Green

The purpose of this organization shall be to provide an avenue for graduate students of Chatham University Eastside to discuss, brainstorm, promote, manage, and implement sustainability practices in conjunction with the activities and priorities of Chatham’s main campus.

Advisor: Steven Karas

Primary Contact: Olivia Zeiler

Society for Ecological Restoration of Chatham University

The purpose of the organization shall be to restore ecological health at Chatham University campuses. Society for Ecological Restoration advances the science, practice, and policy of ecological restoration to sustain biodiversity, improve resilience in a changing climate, and re-establish an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture.

Advisor: Ryan Utz

Primary Contact: Gabriela Briceno


Eco-reps are peer educators dedicated to furthering sustainability by promoting ways for students to adopt more environmentally and socially responsible behaviors on and off campus. Our eco-reps currently work with student led Green Fund projects, do recycling audits, teach fellow students how to compost and recycle properly, and participate in events on campus to help others understand how to be more sustainable. Are you interested in being an eco-rep? Eco-rep positions open annually at the start of the Fall semester. Please email Mary Whitney or the Office of Sustainability for more information!

Photo of solar panels on Chatham's Eden Hall Campus

Energy & Operations

Chatham has made and purchased renewable power either directly or through RECS since 2002, and now purchases 90% of their total electricity usage from a Green-E Certified mix of renewable energy that is primarily wind power. At Eden Hall, we have photovoltaic panels on the entrance canopy, field lab, Dairy Barn Café, Barazzone Center, and Orchard Hall. On the Shadyside campus, Chatham has installed solar thermal water heating for the University's Woodland and Fickes dormitories and completed the retrofitting of the lighting system at Chatham's Eastside building.

Photo of a male Chatham University student working in a garden

Recycling & Waste

For over a decade, Chatham has been focused on waste reduction. We've instituted many initiatives, including eliminating the sale of plastic water bottles; going trayless in the dining hall; implementing a reusable take-out food container program; using compostable containers; converting spent fryer oil to bio-diesel fuel; following the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guidelines for purchasing sustainable seafood; and running a composting program for pre– and post–consumer materials. Chatham also competes annually in RecycleMania, the nationwide competition between colleges and universities to increase recycling and composting and reduce the most trash.

Photo of Chatham University's Shadyside Campus in the fall

Campus Grounds

In addition to being an arboretum, Chatham’s Shadyside Campus is a collection of historic estates, wooded areas, and sweeping greens with our Eden Hall Campus is home to a farm and secondary forest. Chatham has a decade-long no chemical pesticides policy and actively preserves green space throughout its campuses. These areas are cared for by a grounds crew that works to maintain the integrity of the historical aspects of the campuses while sticking to the plant species native to western Pennsylvania.

Photo of a Pittsburgh river and bridge


One major environmental concern of Pittsburgh is the management of stormwater. With an antiquated storm system, large rain events have a harmful effect on its waterways. Chatham has implemented a number of techniques to reduce the effects of stormwater. An historic pond has been restored to capture rainwater from the Mellon Green, and the athletic field storm system allows water to infiltrate and slowly releases after the rain stops. All new buildings will be planned to have a rain garden, and all existing buildings where a rain garden is possible are having them installed over a 10-year period. Eden Hall has 16 rain gardens to manage runoff from parking areas (although parking areas are also built with permeable paving.)

Photo of a man waiting for a bus, with a blurred bus passing into the frame

Alternative Transportation & Carpooling

Chatham maintains a fleet of shuttle buses to transport students between its Shadyside, Eastside, and Eden Hall Campuses. We also provide free public transportation to all Chatham students, staff, and faculty on entire Pittsburgh Regional Transport (PRT)  system. Chatham offers a bike commuter benefit program for full-time staff who bike for a "substantial portion" of their commute. Originally part of the Bicycle Commuter Act tax credit of 2008, when that act was eliminated, we continued a similar program on our own. Chatham participates in the Southwest PA Commission Commute Info program, which coordinates vanpool, carpool and now bikepool riders across the region. 

Photo of two Chatham University students, one wearing an Eco Reps shirt, collecting trash on Shadyside Campus

Join Our Team

Chatham University's Office of Sustainability is the administrative home of all campus sustainability projects. We coordinate with University departments, faculty, and student groups to take steps to a more sustainable living, learning, and working environment for the campus community. Please email the Office of Sustainabilityto get involved, and connect with us on social media to stay updated: YouTubeFacebookTwitter.

Photo of a Chatham alumn posing in the woods

Alumnus profile: Joshua Lewis MSUS ‘16

As Conservation Coordinator at French Creek Valley Conservancy (FCVC), Joshua Lewis, MSUS ’16, is responsible for just over 2200 acres of land. And not just any land—environmentally significant land. “Each plot of land we conserve has to have ecological significance;” he says, “there’s a reason we’re protecting it. It could be right along a creek and be a specific habitat, or it could be a nice large plot with old woods that protects the headwaters.”

Photo of two Chatham University students, one wearing an Eco Reps shirt, collecting trash on Shadyside Campus

Mary Whitney and the Eco-Reps

"Eco-Reps are a new student employment role. They’re basically peer educators on environmental and sustainability topics," says Dr. Mary Whitney, Chatham’s director of University Sustainability.