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8 College Campuses That Have Embraced Sustainability

Happy World Architecture Day! This year, we focus on sustainability. It’s not just a trend—it’s necessary for both the preservation and growth of the world as we know it. Sustainability is all the buzz—and with good reason. Let’s take a look at eight campuses around the globe that have embraced sustainability as a way to move forward.

Sep 6, 2023
  • Student Tips
8 College Campuses That Have Embraced Sustainability

Happy World Architecture Day! Our theme this year? Sustainability. Today, we’re looking at campuses around the world that have embraced sustainability as part of their infrastructure.

When we think of sustainability, our first thoughts generally go towards conservation and stewardship of the environment. This holds true in the context of campus architecture, but adds another dimension, too.

Woman riding bycicle by green urban vertical garden wall.

Think about it: if a building is designed with initial cost—and operational costs for the next 50 years, applying sustainable architecture, engineering, and design principles can pay back initial and even operating costs over time. Not to mention the positive impact on student learning in a healthy space.

What campuses around the world use sustainable building practices? Let’s take a closer look.

1. UC Irvine, US

UC Irvine has three solar power projects on campus, in addition to a 19-megawatt electric/steam cogeneration plant, in addition to a water recycling system that saves more than 210 million gallons per year.

Their Climate Refugees Storytelling project recently earned an award for a multi-media narrative project that documents the lives of climate refugees—those who have been forced to leave their homes because of climate change.

2. Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands

TU/e, as it’s called, achieved carbon neutrality in 2015, and aims for 50 percent energy neutrality by 2030. What does this mean? In 2030, half of TU/e’s energy will be generated by itself.

Solar street lamp

TU/e offers courses in human behavior, in addition to the economic feasibility of new, energy-efficient technology. TU/e works across the campus to employ sustainable practices in renovation, energy supply, operations, mobility, waste, water, and catering.

3. Colorado State University, US

This northern Colorado university is home to the first solar-heated/air-conditioned on-campus building, worked with NASA to develop a cloud-profiling radar system, and gives CSU students multiple opportunities to volunteer and learn more about energy use.

CSU has programs in ecosystem science, sustainability, alternative fuel, conservation, natural resources, forestry, public policy, ethics, sustainable business, and atmospheric, soil, and crop sciences.

Friendly team harvesting fresh vegetables from the rooftop greenhouse garden

Over 90 percent of its departments conduct sustainability-related research, with a plethora of opportunities for students.

4. Nottingham Trent School, the UK

With green buildings, green infrastructure, and green transport, Nottingham Trent is working to connect its students and community to the global, sustainable world.

What are they doing? Their Future Cities project is looking at ways to reduce carbon in infrastructure. The Green Leaders program looks to empower students to commit to sustainable practice. Nine research groups work across four of the five schools. The business school is looking at responsible corporate practices. They’re also working to create an interdisciplinary approach to building design and research. Students can rent bikes for use all year.

African Descent Kid Separating Recyclable Trash

5. University of South Florida, US

With the first 20,000-watt solar charging station for electric cars, USF also boasts a research center for fuel-cell and solar technology, and a research center for the construction of smart electric power grids. USF’s recycling program has saved over 48 tons of aluminum and 9,700 tons of paper.

Students, staff, and faculty have administrative support to help create a sustainable campus environment. The Office of Sustainability prides itself on supporting interdisciplinary research and projects that transcend campus boundaries.

6. Dublin City University, Ireland

DCU’s ambitions goals to reduce their carbon footprint—and their operational costs in the areas of energy consumption, water usage, biodiversity enhancement, and waste generation involve the entire campus—students, faculty, and staff.

The Office of the Chief Operations Officer has published tips for students—down to the daily decision they make regarding food and waste—and campus-wide transportation initiatives.

In addition to increasing recycling, DCU aims to include gray water in new buildings, and reduce energy consumption by a third by 2020.

7. Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain

The UAM is working towards an environmentally sustainable campus by The UAM has adopted its Ecocampus Project, with two goals: to improve the environmental situation across UAM, and to raise awareness among staff, faculty, and students of environmental issues.

Happy friends gardening for the community

Its main objectives are to reduce carbon emissions caused by campus activity—primarily by encouraging public transportation, to eliminate nad effectively replace all laboratory products that contribute to the damage of the ozone layers, to consider bio-friendly architecture and building materials, to promote biodiversity on campus, and to manage waste, recycling, and water appropriately and efficiently.

8. Universiti Putra, Malaysia

Earning high marks in Asia and the rest of the world for its commitment to sustainability, UPM focuses on transportation and infrastructure, in addition to energy-efficient practices on campus.

UPM’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its learning activities, research, management systems, and overall encouragement of faculty, students, and staff to make the right decisions when it comes to the environment.

Learn more about sustainability studies.