The Excellence in Sustainability Award recognizes institutions for a specific campus innovation, process, or program that advances environmental sustainability in higher education or progress toward a more environmentally sustainable future. View the award criteria and nomination requirements.
This award is supported in part by a generous sponsorship from Huron Consulting.
Colorado State University (CSU) received the 2023 Excellence in Sustainability Award for its CSU Spur campus. Completed in January, the campus has three buildings that were designed to LEED Gold standards and serve to model, test, and motivate conservation practices and technologies. Work on the campus focuses on human and animal health, food production, and water conservation and education.
Michigan State University (MSU) received the 2023 Excellence in Sustainability Award for its MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center, a LEED Gold-certified facility with a mission to use waste as a resource through an integrated system of reuse, recycling, collaboration, and education. In 12 years, the facility has diverted 150 million pounds of waste from landfills and has returned an estimated $28 million in value to the institution by selling surplus items and recyclable materials, as well as by reducing waste disposal fees.
University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington received the 2022 Excellence in Sustainability Award for its work towards equitable and resilient food systems. Initiatives include the on-campus Maverick Pantry, which offers food and household supplies, the Dine On Campus app, which alerts students to opportunities to collect unused food, and a composting program, which annually composts approximately 30 tons of food waste.
Furman University received the 2022 Excellence in Sustainability Award for its Community Conservation Corps, a home weatherization program for low-income households in the Greenville community. University staff and community volunteers have helped more than 150 homeowners weatherize their homes, saving up to 25 percent on their energy bills. The program also is helping Furman University to meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2026.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona has received the 2021 Excellence in Sustainability Award for its Compost Cats program, which has diverted more than 20 million pounds of food and green waste from local landfills over the last 10 years and is committed to increasing food security and access to healthy food. Compost Cats operates a large-scale composting program in partnership with the City of Tucson and maintains an organic garden that composts leftover food from community members, among many other sustainability initiatives.
NACUBO’s Excellence in Sustainability Award recognizes a specific campus innovation, process, or program that advances environmental sustainability in higher education or progress toward a more environmentally sustainable future. Indiana University has received the 2020 Excellence in Sustainability Award for its Indiana Sustainability Development Program (ISDP), which aims to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for sustainability jobs within the state.
With a multi-prong approach, ISDP trains future sustainability workers with the hope that they ultimately find employment within Indiana’s corporate, nonprofit, government, and higher education sectors. “We are building a network for impact by preparing some of the most capable future managers ready to take on the state's sustainability challenges,” program manager Danni Schaust explained.
Carleton College in Minnesota is transforming the energy profile of its campus with its Utility Master Plan. Through initiatives including the transition of its 100-year-old steam system to hot water heating from a centralized ground source geothermal heat pump system, the college anticipates a 40-percent reduction in central plant energy use and a sizeable reduction in carbon emissions, among other benefits.
Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania is a pioneer in carbon pricing, with a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035. Its Carbon Charge Program creates an internal price on carbon emissions, which generates about $340,000 a year for Swarthmore’s Green Revolving Loan Fund, as well as campus utility planning, renewable energy, metering upgrades, and educational programming.
University of California–Los Angeles
University of California, Los Angeles partners with Los Angeles County for the Sustainable L.A. Grand Challenge, which aims for 100 percent renewable energy, 100 percent locally sourced water, and enhanced ecosystem health throughout the community by 2050.
University of Minnesota–Morris
University of Minnesota, Morris is transforming its rural area with clean energy initiatives both on campus and in its community. The institution is powered by 70 percent renewable energy and is home to LEED Gold buildings, twin wind turbines, a compost system that takes waste from the community’s public K–12 schools, and more.
University of Texas–Arlington
University of Texas at Arlington is leading myriad sustainability efforts across land, water, air, and energy. The institution is home to a 2.6 acre park, hosts the annual North Texas Regional Water Conservation Symposium, and partners with Air North Texas to reduce ozone pollution in the region, among other initiatives.