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2016–2017 Sustainability Report

sustainNU is pleased to present Northwestern’s 2016–2017 Year in Review Sustainability Report. The report covers milestones and accomplishments from the 2016 to 2017 academic year. Northwestern looks forward to continuing to make progress toward achieving the University’s sustainability goals and leading the way toward a more sustainable future.

Built Environment



The Northwestern purple Divvy bike took 821 trips with 640 unique riders traveling a total of 1,619 miles. Northwestern student Divvy bike share memberships have reached a total of 667 since the program inception in July 2016.  16 electric vehicles added to the University fleet saving 12,785 gallons of gas annually.  8,295 miles ridden this year by Northwestern’s Bike Commuter Challenge team, securing a win in our category.  The University’s inaugural Transportation Survey was released in 2016 and captured data from 6,688 students, faculty, and staff.  525 year-round carbon free commuters equals 339,000 gallons of gas saved per year, equal to the energy needed to power 300 homes for an entire year.  Northwestern was awarded a Bike Friendly University Silver designation for 2016 to 2020.

Resource Conservation

Understanding our waste: The first ever campus waste audit included sorting more than 9,000 lbs of waste from 19 buildings across both campuses.  • 30.3% single stream recyclables  • 32.9% currently non-recoverable • 18% compostable • 16.2% avoidable  • 2.6% other divertable materials  Recycling and composting efforts diverted 38% of our waste from landfills, which represents 2,625 tons recycled or composted.  Supported 9 zero-waste events  Nearly 10,000 pounds of food, clothing, and household goods were donated during move out. Increased “real food” purchase from 2% to 5.5% toward a goal of 20% by 2020.  Reducing waste from disposable: Installed 75 hydration stations across campus.  1,975 gallons of waste vegetable oil were recycled. This generated 1,679 gallons of biodiesel fuel, which avoided 31,664 pounds of CO2 emissions right here in Chicago.

Experiential Learning

The Northwestern Sustainability Fund awarded $50,000 to support student-led sustainability projects on campus. In fiscal year 2017, 2 projects were funded and are underway.  30 Northwestern Sustainability Fund grants awarded since 2013, for a total of $200,000. Hands-on learning activities included:   • Tours of Kresge Centennial Hall for classes including Topics in Contemporary Energy and Climate Change, and General Chemistry.  • Campus sustainability scavenger hunts and tours o Living-learning lab projects:  ♣ Campus shuttle expansion feasibility study and furniture surplus program feasibility study by the Segal Design Institute Design Thinking and Communication class members.  ♣ Electric vehicle charging infrastructure expansion feasibility study and Save ride electric vehicle conversion feasibility study by McCormick School of Engineering Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences class members.  House by Northwestern one 6th place in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon and one 1st place in market potential, 1st place in communications, 1st place in the Student Choice Award, and 3rd place in engineering.


Communication & Engagement

Hosted or provided support for 55 campus events with a focus on sustainability, reaching more than 5,000 students, faculty, staff, and community members.  Supported five new offices in completing green office certification and held a recertification workshop for Green Team members from 19 certified offices.  Increased the sustainNU email newsletter mailing list to 3,750 subscribers and achieved an average open rate of 32% (twice the industry average).  Shared regular updates with 900 sustainNU Facebook followers and 1,280 Twitter followers.  Engaged the community in learning about sustainability through events including the Northwestern Community Picnic and the Evanston Green Living Festival.  Northwestern’s sustainability efforts were featured in national trade publications and conferences.


enter descriptive texNorthwestern University earned Silver ranking in STARS, earning 63 out of 64 possible points in the Silver category  Rated 9 out of top 30 college and university partners in the U.S. EPA Green Power Challenge.  Rated #31 out of 227 colleges and universities by Sierra Club Cool Schools.  Received 96 out of 99 possible points in the Princeton Review Sustainability Green Rating.