Earth Air Fire Water

EAFWEvery college and university facilities department works to operate as efficiently as practical. “Practical” is an important word, because each institution has a series of restraints that make “possible” tougher.

St. Olaf Facilities focuses on operating the physical place as efficiently as practical, while always remembering that our work is essentially stewardship. Stewardship of the environment, structure, and infrastructure to be sure, but almost more importantly, of the resources students, families, and friends bring to the college. Every dollar we do not have to spend on a given operation preserves dollars that more directly support the reason we are all here – the development of students through program, opportunity, and place.

The facilities group tries to address sustainability on many fronts, but in the end it all comes down paying attention to what humans thought were the elements for thousands of years – Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Many civilizations included some form of spirit as well, and we do too.


Most of our materials come from the Earth in one way or another. Much of our energy comes from the Earth, even though in the beginning it comes to us from the Sun. All of our building materials are Earth sourced. We generate outcomes that may affect the Earth to varying degrees.


We need to clean air to breath, inside and out of our buildings, and many of our operations can make this better or worse.


Best use of fuels, efficient use of electricity. Fire is inextricably tied to Earth and Air.


Efficient use of domestic water resources, storm water management, distribution system, sanitary sewage reduction, grounds management.


Care for creation.