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2015-2016 Sustainability Report

sustainNU is pleased to present Northwestern’s inaugural Year in Review Sustainability Report. This report highlights the results of an engaged campus community dedicated to advancing initiatives and behaviors necessary to sustain the University. The report covers milestones and accomplishments from the 2015 to 2016 academic year. Areas of focus include the built environment, resource conservation, transportation, communications and engagement, and curriculum and research. Northwestern looks forward to continuing to make progress toward reducing the University’s environmental footprint and leading the way toward a more sustainable future.

Built Environment

Kresge Hall with solar panels on the roof

Using the sun

Renovation of Kresge Centennial Hall included installation of an 81kW solar array
Equal to saving 70,000 pounds of coal annually

Reducing energy

  • 2% reduction from last year
  • 15% reduction from baseline year (2010)

Since 2009, Northwestern has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 34% through campus initiatives and Renewable Energy Certificates

Saving water

  • 850,000 gallon reduction from last year

Equal to filling 1.3 Olympic swimming pools

New LEED certified buildings

U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold logo
  1. Ryan Center for Musical Arts
  2. Sailing Center

Northwestern is now home to 10 LEED certified buildings, totaling 500,000 ft2

Committed to sustainability

Northwestern University is a proud ENERGY STAR® partner, and partner of the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Alliance and Better Buildings Challenge, committed to reducing our energy consumption by 20% or more by 2020

Energy Star Partner logo    Better Buildings logo

Resource Conservation

Recycling bins

Switching to mixed recycling

Transitioning away from dual-stream recycling, Northwestern has seen an increase of 91 additional tons collected as compared to the previous year

Reducing food waste

University composting initiatives have collected 260 tons of food waste

Avoiding the landfill

Increased recycling and composting efforts diverted 39% of Northwestern’s waste from going to the landfill

Better food at the source

Committed to the Real Food Challenge to increase "real food" by 20%
(community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food)

Facilitating campus events

sustainNU provided guidance and composting for 6 zero-waste events

Move out collections

During move out, more than 400 pounds of food and 20,000 pounds of clothing and household goods were donated


Divvy bicycles

Campus bike share

A partnership between Northwestern and the City of Evanston brought 3 Divvy bike share stations to campus

3,197 trips from campus stations since inception in July 2016

Bike Commuter Challenge

Northwestern cyclists logged nearly 1,200 bike trips covering more than 7,000 miles – more than any of the other 268 teams

Supporting electric vehicles

Installed 4 electric charging stations

Purchased 10 new Global Electric Motorcars for Facilities Management fleet

Communication & Engagement

Students wearing purple Eco-Reps t-shirts

Celebrating Earth Month

Reached 1,400 community members throughout the month, and hosted 4 events during Earth Week

Green Cup Competition

Campus-wide electricity use decreased by 3 kWh/person and water use decreased by 1 cubic ft/person during this four week competition

Sustainable offices

Recognized 10 departments with Green Office Certifications, engaging 578 staff members

Recognizing service

9 Sustainability Excellence Awards given in conjunction with the Northwestern Service Excellence program

Reaching out to the community

Established baseline of 3,300 sustainability newsletter subscribers and committed to a 6% annual increase

Curriculum & Research

Students in research laboratory

Teaching our students

Over 100 sustainability and energy related courses offered at Northwestern and 9 courses offered by the Institute for Sustainability and Energy

Northwestern Institute for Sustainability and Energy logo

Enabling student innovation

Northwestern Sustainability Fund awarded a $30,000 grant to House by Northwestern
(House by Northwestern is a 2017 DOE Solar Decathlon entry)