Loyola named 4th greenest college in America

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Pope Francis has shared his view on many things, including the environment. He has urged people to become more aware, and one local Catholic university is on board with the message.

Loyola is using rainwater as toilet water and transforming oil into fuel, and it's all Pope-approved.

The Chicago university has been named the fourth greenest college in America by the Sierra Club. The campus is way ahead of the times when it comes to sustainability.

Your vegetable oil from home and cooking oil from the school cafeteria have been turned into diesel fuel, hand soap and windshield washer fluid.

The project is just one of many making Loyola University Chicago a leader in campus sustainability.

“We've moved a little bit beyond that we have a pretty active composting program, so recycling organic waste,” said Director of Sustainability Aaron Durnbaugh.

He said their program started 10 years ago and the Pope's encyclical on climate gives them confirmation that their efforts are on par with his principles.

“We are a Jesuit, Catholic urban institution and so sustainability really integrates with our mission of social justice in connecting and addressing some of the most pressing issues in the world,” said Durnbaugh.

They now have 9 green buildings, recycling programs and new majors like environmental science and policy.

“Loyola kind of went in that direction and that really kind of inspired me to get into the environmental field,” said Ivan Raffucci, who is a senior this year at Loyola.

He's also the Aquaponics Manager, meaning he oversees the self-sustaining ecosystem.

“So the fish are at the bottom and they are producing the waste that is feeding the plants, and we harvest the plants,” he explained.

Raffucci said his education at Loyola goes beyond the classroom.

“It's about getting your hands dirty and getting the experience that you want from this university,” said Raffucci.

This type of education is what Pope Francis wrote about in his encyclical, urging the public to stand up for the environment, take public transit and plant trees.

“If he says it once, it says it 30 times, all is connected, we are connected to the environment,” said Chancellor Father Mike Garanzini. “It’s going to come back to haunt us if we don't treat it well.”

So, what's next for the campus? Durnbaugh said they are working on more clean energy technologies like wind and solar.