On Thursday, January 30, GEMS club members and Aquaponics students visited Loyola’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability. In addition to learning about the school and taking a tour of the campus, the students visited the new Institute of Environmental Sustainability. The building itself is heated and cooled using a geothermal system, allowing the temperature to remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The roof is shaped to collect rainwater, which is used in the plumbing system so that each toilet flush in the utilizes recycled water.
The highlights of the visit included a look at the greenhouse, which houses Loyola’s very own Aquaponics system, and the Biodiesel Lab. Much like Lane’s Aquaponics Lab housed in 128, the system at Loyola features a closed system in which tilapia produce waste, microbes & worms convert the waste to fertilize plants, and the plants filter water that return to the fish.
Using vegetable oil from the in-house cafeteria, Loyola staff and students create biodiesel in the Biodiesel Lab. Then, they filter the oil and convert the entire product into biodiesel that can be used to run machinery or into glycerin that can be used as soap. How much vegetable oil is needed to make the fuel? Our GEMS and Aquaponics students learned that it is a 1:1 ratio! This means that for each gallon of vegetable oil, the Biodiesel Lab can produce a gallon of fuel. Pretty amazing, right?
All our students had a great time visiting the campus and are now more aware of different ways in which we can conserve resources and solve environmental problems. Thank you to Dr. Nancy Tuchman, the founding director of Loyola’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability, and to the entire staff and student body for welcoming us!