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The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus has been noted locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally for its green efforts. Here are some of the more recent awards this campus has received:


STARS Gold Level

STARS goldIn 2017 — for the third time in a row — the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign earned Gold Level honors in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), the nation’s most comprehensive sustainability rating system. And the campus got a shout-out for the innovations in our submission from the program’s social media accounts! STARS is a self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Illinois is one of 25 schools to achieve Gold in latest, more stringent version 2.1 of the STARS tool and one of two in the Big Ten Conference. The program has ranked 67 schools total in the STARS 2.1 program; 827 overall have registered to use STARS reporting.

Read the full article here >>>

Illinois was also certified STARS Gold in 2015 and 2013.

To check out the 2017 reporting on AASHE’s website, click here. 2015 report here. 2013 report here.

2018 International Freezer Challenge Champions

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign won first place in the 2018 International Laboratory Freezer Challenge. Participating in the Academia category, 45 labs from 17 buildings participated in the program, including the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI). Researchers earned points for tasks such as eliminating fridge/freezer usage, cleaning lab spaces, and moving samples to warmer storage. Their efforts to conserve energy and improve sustainability practices resulted in 720 kWh/day energy savings, or 262,800 KWh, in 2018. The award will be presented by My Greener Labs and the International Institute for Sustainable Labs (I2SL) at the at the 2018 I2SL conference.

Read the full news release to learn more information about the challenge and participants.


Tree Campus USA®

In April 2018, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign earned its third straight designation as an official Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forestry.

To care for its more than 20,000 trees, campus maintains a tree advisory committee and a campus tree-care plan.

The Arbor Day Foundation also awarded the U of I the Tree Campus USA designation in April 2016 and 2017.


Second Nature ‘Marks of Distinction’

In April 2018, environmental nonprofit Second Nature recognized the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for advancing climate action in higher education with two “Marks of Distinction.”

Illinois was honored for two financial planning-related efforts for campus sustainability: 1) a commitment to a revolving fund worth at least $1 million to support campus sustainability projects; and 2) participation in Second Nature’s Carbon Credit and Purchasing Program, which helps the University sell credit for the carbon it doesn’t emit to an other entity — and reinvest those earnings in further carbon reductions.


Bee Campus USA

In October 2018, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was recognized as the 53rd Bee Campus USA, and the first in the Big Ten Conference. Read the Facilities & Services news release >>>

The U of I met and — will continue to strive to meet — all of the requirements as a Bee Campus affiliate, including:

  • Convening a Bee Campus USA Committee of faculty, staff, and students (read the iSEE story on the student who started the movement on campus >>>);
  • Fostering community engagement through awareness events;
  • Sponsoring on-campus service learning projects;
  • Offering pollinator-focused courses;
  • Educating campus and the broader community through communications and a web presence (view the U of I’s Bee Campus website and Facebook page);
  • Developing a campus habitat plan; and
  • Continuing to pursue and update its Bee Campus USA status annually.

View a full list of Bee Campus USA members >>>


AASHE Sustainable Campus Index 2018

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has maintained its gold standing in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)’s 2018 Sustainable Campus Index. Visit the Index here >>>

In 2017, the AASHE Index recognized Illinois for an innovative, high-impact initiative. Fresh Press is a University of Illinois initiative that is looking to fundamentally change the commercial paper product industry to one that is more sustainable. Agricultural residue from the student farm is used to create paper that is sold on-campus, with students involved in growing, harvesting and manufacturing the paper products. In 2016, the first shares of artisan and writing paper were completed, and 75 percent of these shares were sold to Illinois faculty, staff, and students. Sales from paper products continue to be reinvested to make the Fresh Press business model a sustainable one. The Illinois Solar Farm was also featured in a full-page photo in the 2017 Index.

In the 2016 Index, Illinois was a No. 2 in the Building category and No. 3 in the Water category

Illinois was also honored in the 2015 Index, which put the campus No. 1 among all schools in the buildings category and No. 2 for water, among the Top 10 sustainable campuses overall, and with perfect scores on campus engagement and coordination and planning highlights.


Sierra Club Cool Schools 2018


Illinois is in the top 100 out of more than 200 four-year higher education institutions that applied to Sierra Club Magazine’s “Cool Schools” contest in 2018. Campuses participate by completing an extensive questionnaire about their sustainability practices, which is then evaluated by a team of experts at the Sierra Club. Campus placed 56th in 2017, 33rd in 2016, and 38th in 2015. The competition is heating up!

Read more.


Princeton Review’s 2016 Top 50 Green Colleges


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus sustainability initiatives have been named as some of the best in the country, as highlighted in by the No. 44 ranking (and second in the Big Ten Conference) in the release of The Princeton Review’s 2016 Top 50 Green Colleges (more info at TPR’s website).

In 2015, Illinois was No. 24 on the list, and the previous two years the U of I made the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll (top 20), one of a handful of institutions to earn a perfect score of 99 and the only Big Ten school to make this list. TPR evaluates more than 800 schools each year.


2015 Campus Conservation Nationals Top 20%

Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) is the largest electricity and water reduction competition for colleges and universities in the world. In the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s second year of participation in the competition, dorm residents reduced their energy consumption by 7.9%, earning the Illinois a spot in the top 20% of energy savers in the 2015 competition. The Illinois campus was also the winner of the Big TenUnplugged challenge held between six Big Ten schools participating in CCN2015.

Read more results.

No. 1 in Division, Kill the Cup University Challenge

Copy of KillTheCup-LogoFor five weeks in October and November 2015, Illinois students competed against 15 other campuses nationwide to reduce landfill waste by opting for reusable mugs instead of paper and Styrofoam cups at local coffee shops. The Urbana-Champaign campus took first prize in its division for Social Impact — the number of student participating in the campaign — and ranked 4th overall in the waste reduction category with an average reusable rate of 14.7%. As a reward, campus received a $500 grant for future campus sustainability projects.

Small Steps Big Wins Earth Week Challenge

small steps certThe University of Illinois finished sixth among universities in the national Small Steps Big Wins Earth Week Challenge in April 2015. Seventy Illinois students participated, performing 691 “sustainable actions” that led to a reduction of 1,513 pounds of carbon dioxide and a cost savings of $502. iSEE congratulates the participants for taking small steps to make a big difference on our campus!

Mother Nature Network Sustainable Schools

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was featured as one of 17 campuses nationwide “doing some impressive things” for the environment on Mother Nature Network’s website. They were most excited about our LEED-certified buildings, the Spring 2015 solar farm project, and iSEE’s SWATeams.

Read more.

College Raptor Greenest College Campuses in the U.S.

green_campuses_top25 (1)In April 2015, Illinois made the College Raptor list as one of the 25 greenest college campuses in the United States. The rating was based on the College Sustainability Report Card, the Sierra Club Cool Schools 2014, the EPA Top 30 College and Universities, and the AASHE Stars ratings.

Check out the campus page here; the full list is here.

Governor’s 2013 Sustainability Award

Illinois was one of 27 organizations — and one of four educational institutions (Jefferson Middle School, Lewis & Clark Comm. College, and the U of I’s Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses) — awarded the Governor’s Sustainability Award on Oct. 29, 2013. The Governor’s Award recognizes organizations for their demonstrated commitment to environmental excellence through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices.  Winners are selected through a rigorous process of review and examination. Illinois was recognized for its efforts in the reduction of energy and water consumption, as well as for waste diversion.

Online Schools Center Top 50 Green Schools

Illinois is No. 13 on the list at, which uses several factors in determining its rankings: the Princeton Review Green Honor Roll,, Sierra Club, U.S. News’ Eco-friendly Campuses, AASHE gold or silver rating, and current or pending green initiatives.

Read more.

2013 Gold Level Compact School

Gov. Pat Quinn and the Green Governments Coordinating Council have recognized the campus as a Gold Level Compact School within the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact program. This designation serves as a signal to our community and peer institutions that the campus is a leader in higher education sustainability. Our campus began participating in the program at a Gold Level in 2010 and has retained this level through continued progress toward campus sustainability goals and initiatives.