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Solar panels shown on the Lower School with other buildings and mountains in the background

St. Mary’s Academy is proud to join the Loretto Community in its mission to care for the Earth. Loretto’s commitment to work for justice and act for peace extends not only to our human family, but to all species and Earth. In standing in solidarity with Earth, we seek changes at the individual, institutional, and societal levels. From eliminating single-use plastic bottles and composting at lunchtime to our community garden and hydroponic grow towers to field trips to learn about taking care of our environment, our commitment to sustainability permeates throughout our SMA community. Read more about our institutional efforts toward sustainability below. 

Energy Efficiency

Geothermal design was introduced during the construction of the Community Center in 2013. Utilizing the earth’s near-constant temperature, geothermal design uses less energy than a conventional air source heat pump. The building uses 60% less energy through the geothermal system, energy efficiency, and passive solar design, including natural ventilating and shading to reduce air conditioning load. Lights are managed with occupancy sensors and photosensors inside and outside the building.

Solar Panels

Solar panels were first installed on SMA’s campus in 2011 on the roofs of the Lower School and Bishop Evans Sports Center. The solar grid produces energy for those buildings, and allows SMA to sell the energy overage back to the grid.

Sustainable Turf Fields

The Pam Bent Nike Grind Turf Field on Biddle Fields features the first 100% Nike Grind Field in Colorado, installed in April 2015. Nike Grind provides a safe alternative to recycled tire crumbs. The use of recycled Nike athletic shoes provides assets in addition to safety.

New in 2023 was the addition of two more turf fields on our West Field and Baseball field at Biddle Fields. Through the turfing of 134,000 square feet of field, we save nearly a quarter million gallons of water annually compared to the grass it replaced. The new turf also features eco-friendly, organic fill materials of sand and Amorim Cork.

Health, Productivity, and Air Quality

The optimal use of daylight in classrooms is proven to enhance students' health, happiness, and ability to concentrate and learn. Due to the natural light available in the Community Center, additional lighting is unnecessary,  saving on energy and related costs.

In 2020, SMA invested in an air disinfecting system called needlepoint bipolar ionization that will permanently upgrade air quality in our three school divisions and Bishop Evans Sports Center. Integrated into our HVAC systems, this time-tested technology utilizes specialized tubes that take oxygen molecules from the air and convert them into charged atoms that cluster around microparticles, surrounding and deactivating harmful substances like airborne mold, bacteria, allergens, and viruses. They also attach to expelled breath droplets and dust particles that can transport viruses, enlarging them so they're more easily caught in filters. It's an active process that provides continuous disinfection. We also use low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, glues, and adhesives to improve air quality.

Water-Efficient Xeriscaping

St. Mary's Academy uses drought-resistant plant species that can thrive naturally in our area, eliminating the need to irrigate and saving on water and energy. Using native species and non-invasive adaptive plant varieties also preserves local biodiversity.