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Policies Provide Guidance on Campus Sustainability Practices

Everyone at Northwestern can contribute to efforts to reduce the University’s environmental footprint. Sustainability-focused policies set expectations and offer guidance on how to work and live more consciously on campus. The key points of these policies are summarized below, with the full policy text available on the Policies and Guidelines page on the sustainNU website.

The Built Environment

Energy Conservation Policy

The Energy Conservation Policy provides guidelines for managing energy usage on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses. The policy was developed by the Energy Efficiency Committee, which is made up of staff members from Facilities and sustainNU. The policy aims to improve cost efficiency, productivity, and working conditions while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption at Northwestern. The committee meets monthly and communicates regularly to identify and act on opportunities to improve energy efficiency on campus.

Green Cleaning Policy

The Green Cleaning Policy is most relevant for Facilities, Student Affairs, and custodial staff. It covers strategies and expectations for minimizing the environmental impact of cleaning products and processes, as well as techniques for energy reduction and safe chemical storage. The policy outlines the process for identifying and purchasing cleaning products that have received environmental seals and certifications and provides instruction for safe and sustainable usage.


Bicycle Policy

This policy sets guidelines for bike parking, safety, and repairs. The policy establishes a protocol for how the University manages bikes that are illegally parked or appear to have been abandoned. Facilities will confiscate these bikes and store them for at least 30 days. During that time, bike owners can contact Facilities Customer Service to arrange to pick them up. Bikes that are not retrieved within this timeframe will be donated to a local charity. The Bike Policy also provides information about registering bikes with University Police, making it easier to retrieve bikes that are stolen or confiscated. Finally, this policy offers information about bike safety, Divvy membership, and local bike paths.

Electric Vehicle Charging Policy

This policy applies to electric vehicle (EV) drivers who use the charging stations located on campus. It is designed to promote efficient charging behavior and increase convenience for EV drivers. In order to encourage users to free up charging stations for other drivers once their vehicles have been charged, the policy states that the stations can be used for three hours free of charge. After that, there will be a fee of $2 per hour for additional charging. In addition, drivers are expected to wrap up and store charging cords after use.

Resource Conservation

Sustainable Waste Management Policy

This policy is aimed at all members of the Northwestern community. It provides direction on the proper disposal of everything from food waste to construction debris. The policy offers resources related to campus recycling practices, electronics recycling, hazardous waste disposal, and waste disposal laws and regulations. It states that faculty, staff, students, and campus vendors are responsible for separating waste types and placing items in the appropriate bins. Only those who have received the proper training and certifications should manage hazardous waste, following guidelines set by the Office for Research Safety.

Construction and Demolition (C&D) Waste Policy

Construction, demolition, renovation, and remodeling projects that take place at the University are required to divert a minimum of 75% of C&D debris (measured in tons) from disposal in landfills. This policy outlines the process for managing construction and demolition waste. It is relevant to Facilities staff and contractors working on campus.

Northwestern’s sustainability policies aim to bring awareness to the tangible steps, big and small, that we all can take to lessen our carbon footprint and improve our impact on the earth. Please explore the policies on sustainNU’s website, and help us turn Northwestern green.