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Northwestern Recognized for Advancing Campus Sustainability

Northwestern University has received a number of recognitions for its sustainability efforts over the past few months. We share this honor with all on campus, particularly those who support our Working Groups, attend our events, participate in Green Office Certification or become more aware of their impact. Congratulations to our community for making progress towards our sustainability goals and leading the way toward a more sustainable future! 


2018 Illinois Sustainability Award

Northwestern was honored with the 2018 Illinois Sustainability Award. The University was recognized for its achievements in engaging the campus community and reducing its environmental footprint through increasing the landfill diversion rate to 38 percent, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adding 16 electric vehicles to the University fleet, and obtaining two LEED platinum certified buildings.

“This award is a true testament of what an engaged campus community can accomplish,” said Kathia Benitez, Northwestern’s sustainability director. “We are honored to win the award, competing with local government leaders committing to reduce their environmental impact. Collectively our efforts are taking our community one-step closer to mitigating the effects of climate change. We are resetting our environment and ensuring its livelihood for generations to follow.”


Tree Campus USA

Northwestern has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA program for care of its urban forest. The program recognizes institutions that effectively manage trees on campus, collaborate with the surrounding community to foster healthy urban forests, and educate students about trees and forestry.

To renew the University’s Tree Campus USA status for 2018, sustainNU worked with Northwestern’s Landscape Shop to complete an application that involved submitting a detailed tree care plan for almost 5,000 trees on campus, and describing the University’s Arbor Day celebrations. Northwestern celebrates Arbor Day in conjunction with Earth Month activities in April. This year, students, faculty, staff, and community members celebrated Arbor Day by pitching in to help plant nine new oak trees on campus.

By maintaining healthy trees, Northwestern is fostering a healthier and more pleasant environment for everyone on campus while promoting cleaner air and creating habitat for wildlife. To learn more about the University’s majestic oak trees, read Northwestern Magazine's Roots story.


College Consensus

Northwestern University has been ranked among the 25 Best Green Colleges in the US. The CollegeConsensus ranking of the Best Green Colleges highlights institutions leading in sustainability initiatives across campus life. The University was selected for this ranking because of its recognition by the Environmental Protection Agency for being one of the largest green power users among higher education institutions in the Green Power Partnership. To learn more about this ranking read Northwestern’s profile on the College Consensus website.


Mayor’s Leadership Circle Award

On November 1, the City of Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Northwestern Alumnus, presented Northwestern University with the Mayor’s Leadership Circle Award from Retrofit Chicago for achieving its energy reduction goal at the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center. As a participant in the Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge, Northwestern committed to reducing energy usage by 20% or more within five years of joining the Challenge, and sharing energy efficiency best practices.

The Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center was able to reduce more than 30% of its energy consumption since joining the challenge in 2014. The energy reductions were achieved through the implementation of several conservation projects including the installation of demand control ventilation to support occupancy setbacks and upgrading inefficient light fixtures with LED’s in stairwells, corridors and its large auditorium. The building also recovers condensate water from cooling coils in air handlers to feed cooling towers. Through implementation of several building management system controls, Facilities staff have the ability to schedule zones, air handlers and corridor lighting per occupant needs. The building also realized improved heat distribution with steam trap repairs and replacements and reduced air handler fan speeds with variable frequency drive installations.

Northwestern along with several other Retrofit Chicago participants have reduced weather normalized energy use by 17%, equivalent to removing more than 25,000 vehicles from the road.