The University of Washington is one of four universities worldwide, and the only one from the United States, named this week as a Sustainable Campus Excellence Award winner by the International Sustainable Campus Network.
The awards, presented June 3 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, recognize sustainable campus projects that demonstrate leadership, creativity, effectiveness and performance in the areas of building, campus, integration and student leadership.
The UW was cited for integration, which recognizes projects or initiatives that have integrated sustainability into the culture, community and/or operations of a campus.
Other award winners are Shandong Jiaotong University of China for building, University of Gothenburg in Sweden for campus, and University of Exeter in the United Kingdom for student leadership.
The award brings international recognition to the university’s efforts to embed sustainability into its everyday operation, said Ruth Johnston, a UW associate vice provost and associate vice president for environmental stewardship and sustainability.
"Higher education plays a critical role to advancing sustainability teaching and practices, and reaching the International Sustainable Campus Network award is a milestone for us," Johnston said. "This means we are continuing to lead by example, not only in the U.S. but for other universities across the world."
The sustainable campus network provides a forum to support leading colleges, universities and corporate campuses in the exchange of information, ideas, and best practices for achieving sustainable operations and integrating sustainability into research and teaching.
Specifically, as outlined in its entry, the UW was honored for fostering sustainability through a campuswide approach that "continually embraces multiple stakeholders as a part of the planning process, involving those who are responsible for identifying and managing their own goals."
Those goals involve reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving natural resources, tracking and reporting institutional activities and increasing cross-discipline collaboration to foster sustainability in research and curriculum.
The entry noted that sustainability is a significant part of UW's educational mission, largely because of student engagement and activism, and that focus adds value in recruiting faculty, students and research support.
The university developed a climate action plan with broad student, faculty and staff participation, and is developing carbon-reduction policies that align with its sustainability strategies.
"This is not a project," the UW entry materials noted, "it is a transformational change effort that will expand and continue to innovate."