Husky Green Award winners banner

2020 UW Earth DayThe Husky Green Awards recognize the individuals and groups across all University of Washington campuses who lead the way for sustainability at the University of Washington. This is the 11th year the awards have been awarded by the UW Environmental Stewardship Committee as part of the UW's Earth Day celebrations.

The Husky Green Awards are given to students, faculty and staff from the Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma campuses who show initiative, leadership and dedication. See all the 2020 Husky Green Award recipients below, or see the full list of the 2020 nominees.

Alpha Omicron Pi

Student group

Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII) is a trailblazer for sustainability in the Greek community on campus when it comes to saving water and reducing pollution.

The sorority took on a major project last year, working with the local RainWise program to install four rainwater cisterns at their house in Fall 2019 after extensive planning. AOII is expected to save 20,000 gallons of rainwater runoff each year, which will be reused. After completing the installation, the members reached out to the national AOII organization to implement change in the sustainability efforts of AOII chapters worldwide.

AOII also promotes sustainable practices by educating community members about sorting waste, purchasing local foods, and making others aware of their water usage. They have a leadership position called the “Green Chair,” whose mission is to implement waste-reducing and energy-efficient projects in the house. AOII often collaborates with environmental groups on campus, like helping UW Farm with restoration projects or providing feedback to the UW's Sustainability Action Plan. Through their activism and involvement, AOII is working to create a green future at the UW.

College of the Environment's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Staff team, College of the Environment

The College of the Environment's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team is always asking hard questions to see if they're representing groups equally in the conversation about sustainability. Part of the College of the Environment, the DEI seeks to create a perspective that is inclusive of various identities, and propose solutions to key environmental issues. Two members, Terryl Ross and Isabel Carrera Zamanillo, have been integral in a collaborative planning process with UW Sustainability to plan Earth Day events for the past few years.

They frequently connect with diverse groups to incorporate their voices and feedback in the DEI’s projects and events. The DEI spearheaded the Intersectionality Project, a collaboration with UW Sustainability, to bring together people and encourage them to share authentic dialogue relating to environmental sustainability. With the DEI, intersectional representation is a priority both on and off campus.

Sustainability Curriculum Coalition

Student Group

The Sustainability Curriculum Coalition (SCC) is on a quest to make students’ voices heard when it comes to advancing sustainability efforts on campus.  Formerly the Sustainability Credit Coalition, this RSO originally advocated for UW general education requirements to require students to take a course about sustainability, which passed in an ASUW bill last year. Ready to tackle more trials, the RSO changed its name afterwards to adapt to their mission of increasing opportunities for learning about sustainability on campus.

As the SCC underwent major transformations from a name revamp to officer changes, they kept their eyes set on their overall goal of creating a sustainability-educated and environmentally-just UW. At the Student Sustainability Forum in January, co-leaders Anya Gavrylko and Emma Wilson attended to advocate for student input for the upcoming Sustainability Action Plan, a list of actions for UW to reduce their carbon footprint.

The SCC also works to redefine sustainability to not just be limited by environmental components, but also consider social and economic factors. Through their activism, the SCC is driving a movement to shape a green, inclusive future for the UW community.

UW Tacoma's Giving Garden

UW Tacoma initiative

The efforts of The Giving Garden at UW Tacoma center around addressing food justice for its community members. This organization is partnered with the campus food bank, known as The Pantry, to distribute food to their students, one-third of whom are facing food insecurity.

The Giving Garden uses sustainable methods to grow their greens, like keeping rain barrels, maintaining a living roof, and creating their own compost. Taking initiative, the Giving Garden also promotes these practices on campus and within the greater Tacoma community. These opportunities for service learning create a space for conversations about underserved populations and their experience with food justice. Students clocked in over 600 volunteer hours in 2019 and hosted 16 events. The same year, staff also incorporated the Giving Garden into five curriculums at UWT to teach food security, sustainable urban agriculture, and sustainability.

UW Tower Green Team

Staff team

The members of the UW Tower Green Team always encourage their peers to practice mindful habits. The Green Team has helped host the Sustainability Film Series, which showcased a monthly film for community members to learn more about local efforts to support the Earth. Some of these screenings covered topics like the life cycle of a t-shirt, blue carbon in marine ecosystems, and citizen action against fossil fuels.

With the help of a grant from the Campus Sustainability Fund, the Green Team created a “Green Square” garden this year to showcase native plants, vegetables, and herbs. This project is a prime example of adapting urban spaces to support green food production.  Throughout the building, Green Team members implemented compost bins and electronic waste drop-off opportunities. They also participate in local conferences to help inspire higher education institutions to enact greener policies.

Jan Whittington

Faculty, Urban Design and Planning

Jan Whittington’s leadership paves the way for students to become involved in improving campus sustainability. As an associate professor in the Department of Urban Design and Planning and the director of the UW Solar group, Whittington works with students both academically and professionally to advise them in proposing and designing new solar panel installations across campus. 

As an interdisciplinary RSO, the members of UW Solar come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging in both age and areas of expertise. Whittington encourages students to address their projects from many lenses and angles, allowing all members to play a part. For example, students need to evaluate physical infrastructure, ease of installation, future research potential, and policy change. Through her impact, UW Solar acts as a de-facto alternative energy consulting firm on campus.

Kate Simonen

Faculty, Architecture

For professor Kate Simonen, her expertise in architecture goes hand-in-hand with her passion for reducing carbon emissions. Her research has focused on the innovation of construction materials and practices that will go a long way in creating a low-carbon future. Kate heads the Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) as the founding director, powering research on a link between environmental life cycle assessments to construction methods. 

Kate’s efforts are bringing more attention to low-carbon practices in the architecture community. For instance, ARCHITECT Magazine referenced the CLF in their January 2020 edition entitled “The Carbon Issue.” Numerous media outlets have recognized Kate in the media for her commitment to sustainability most recently within the Huffington Post and by being recognized as one of the 2019 Top 25 Newsmakers by Engineering News Record. Now, Kate continues to call for action to minimize carbon in the built environment community.

Shelby Carrol

Student, UW Green Greeks

Each aspect of Shelby Carroll’s life connects back to her passion for sustainability. She's held a variety of leadership positions at the UW dedicated to enacting change on campus.

As the director of the Green Greeks Representative Program, Shelby ensures fraternity and sorority members attend their monthly meetings, which discuss sustainability measures taking place in their houses. If a house needs extra help in making their methods more sustainable, Shelby works with their representative to work out a solution. Green Greeks is at full capacity and the members work hard to join in on the mission. Shelby helped bring the club to this level by engaging them with guest speakers and reaching out with volunteer opportunities. She introduced multiple projects to the Green Greeks, like clothing drive donations, waste reduction initiatives, and trimming invasive species near U-Village.

Outside of the Greek community, Shelby also worked for UW Recycling. From that experience, Shelby carried her knowledge over to the Green Greeks to educate the members. Shelby manages both the thriving Green Greeks program and a full course load as a student.

Ursula Valdez

Faculty, UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences

Ursula Valdez views sustainability through a variety of lenses. Now a lecturer, she started her movement at UW during her time as a graduate student in the department of biology, where she created the Bio-Sustainability Group. She pushed her department to compost and use reusable items before these sustainability measures were formally implemented. At that time, many departments still used disposable utensils for food, making Valdez stand out as a trailblazer for change.

As a faculty member, Valdez also incorporates conservation and sustainability into her classes and activities. She actively encourages students and other researchers to document avian diversity and natural history in urban spaces and educates them on how to restore these habitats. She also encourages students and colleagues to reduce their personal ecological footprint in both their academic and personal lives. Due to popular demand, Valdez also created a “Sustainability on a Student Budget” course to teach students how to embrace affordable, sustainable practices for everyday life. One such practice is making eating-utensil kits and reusable beeswax cloths to replace single-use plastic bags, a skill she taught as part of class activities and also to more people during Earth Week 2019. As part of some of her courses’ activities, she also assigns students to contact politicians and newspapers to propose solutions to modern environmental issues

Outside of the university, she co-founded the Tambopata Center for Education, Science, and Conservation (CECCOT, acronym in Spanish), an organization that promotes the conservation of tropical diversity in the Peruvian Amazon.

Yona Sipos

Faculty, Nutritional Sciences Program, Department of Environmental & Occupational Sciences

Yona Sipos inspires passion in her students during her Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health lecture, while also leading by example.

She goes beyond the coursework to teach environmental justice topics to her students and also promotes ways to engage with these topics. 

Groups across campus and the greater Seattle area are familiar with her work, too. Sipos co-chairs the advisory team for The UW Farm, where she helps to support the farm’s operations. She also contributed her knowledge and enthusiasm to the creation of the upcoming Sustainability Action Plan. Sipos is currently launching the inaugural food systems capstone, engaging multiple local leaders in community-based projects for senior UW students.

She has played a role in producing sustainability reports on food systems, in addition to serving on a couple of food policy councils in Canada and the US and supporting a regional foodshed network in the Chesapeake.

Sipos uses food systems draws a bridge between academic and non-academic worlds. She creates spaces for students and community members to get involved in the field of food justice and pushes them to reflect on the social, ecological, and economic impacts of their work.

Legacy Award winner: Elise Glassman

Staff, UW Sustainability/Office of Budget and Planning

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are always on Elise Glassman’s mind. Elise works as the project manager in the Office of Budget and Planning, and formerly held the same role at UW Sustainability where she had worked since the office was established in 2008.

In her most recent project at UW Sustainability, she managed the development of the Sustainability Action Plan, where she implemented a DEI lens early in the process. To follow through with that commitment, Elise connected with underrepresented groups and international students to mix their feedback into the plan. When hiring new students for the office, Elise always focused on prioritizing DEI during the process. She also offers recognition to everyone involved with the office, making sure to thank custodial staff often and offer help to those needing assistance. Elise’s passion for sustainability also shows in her personal life as she frequently utilizes public transportation and eats vegetarian.