“With the exception of some high-flying migrant species, nature doesn't commute to work.” - Janine Benyus, Biomimicry

Aquinas College

Organizations Dedicated to Higher Education Sustainability Efforts



"The Business and Cultural Acceptance Case for Trayless Dining"- Aramark

In 2008, an Aramark study of 186,000 meals at 25 colleges and universities found a 25-30 percent decrease in food waste per person on trayless days. Trayless Dining has been found to “support the Triple Bottom Line principle, providing environmental, social, and economic benefits.”

American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment

The signatories of the Presidents' Climate Commitment have pledged to address global warming within their institution, with the goal of achieving climate neutrality. Over 680 academic institutions have already made the commitment to eliminate their greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions by completing a ghg inventory, setting goals, and integrating sustainability education into the curriculum of the College or University.

Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)

AASHE is a "membership-based association of colleges and universities working to advance sustainability in higher education in the US and Canada." Their website includes a campus sustainability professionals page, classroom resources, publications, interest groups, and a sustainability policy link. They also offer a free, weekly e-newsletter covering campus sustainability news, events, and opportunities. AASHE's goal is to promote sustainability in every area of higher education from governance and operations to curriculum and student-life.

Center for Sustainable Systems

The University of Michigan opened the Center for Sustainable Systems over 10 years ago and since that time, have completed 50 research projects on topics like green buildings, agriculture, transportation, renewable energy, and packaging. Free on-line publications, educational materials, and an events calendar are just a few great features of this site.

Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability

The Center was created by Michigan State University to "foster a collaborative learning culture that leads the community to heightened awareness of its environmental impact." The site contains information on the Center's projects and research aimed at creating a sustainable campus, resources related to green computing, and a calendar of events.

Green Student U

Green Student University was created to encourage more college students to become involved in the green movement in higher education. The web site offers valuable information on the latest green topics to teach college students about sustainable living practices and worldwide sustainability events.

Institute for Sustainable Education

A part of the University of Oregon, the "Institute's activities aim to produce information that can help resolve complex problems and enable people to sustain the economies and environmental systems that support their communities." Their research programs concentrate on topics like sustainable forestry, environmental career development, and watershed management.

Institute for Sustainable Energy

The Institute for Sustainable Energy was established in 2001 by Eastern Connecticut State University to "identify, develop, and implement the means for achieving a sustainable energy future. The Institute focuses on matters relating to public policy, conservation and load management, efficient and renewable distributed generation, protection of environmental resources, and the dissemination of useful information on energy alternatives and sustainability to users and providers of energy."

National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology Program

The Campus Ecology Program was established by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in 1989 to help colleges and universities become sustainable systems. The web site offers a monthly electronic newsletter, a database of campus projects within particular sustainability topics, a Campus Ecology Yearbook with college and university successes from the previous year, a climate blog, and much more. The organization provides workshops and teleconferences, printed and online resources, and consultation.

Net Impact

Net Impact is an international nonprofit organization who works to make a positive impact on society by growing and strengthening a community of new leaders who use business to improve the world. They offer a portfolio of programs to educate, equip, and inspire more than 10,000 members to make a tangible difference in their universities, organizations, and communities.


"RecycleMania is a friendly competition among college and university recycling programs in the United States that provides the campus community with a fun, proactive activity in waste reduction. Over a 10-week period, campuses compete in different contests to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate."

Second Nature

Second Nature helps higher education institutions make the transformation to a sustainable community by providing workshops, publications, presentations, consultations and networking opportunities. The web site contains countless case studies describing the greening of college and universities.


The Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center is the first networking site for advancing sustainability programs in community colleges to develop a green workforce. This site works to not only help schools create green learning programs, but also to integrate sustainability into their facilities and campuses. From several linked resources, support, and membership, the SEED center aims to improve the work field for green education and green jobs.

Shell Center for Sustainability

The Shell Center was started by Rice University and the Shell Oil Foundation in 2002. The Center focuses on research and education in the areas of energy and climate change, urban sustainability, sustainable development education, and sustainability in China. The site consists of reports, information, and publications on the previous topics, as well as an events calendar.

The Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE)

SAGE is a project of the University of Wisconsin, Madison that performs research examining the "linkages between natural resources, human health and security, and changes in the global environment". The site contains a long list of publications, links, and free maps, as well as information on global ecosystems, land use, water resources, agricultural systems, air quality, science and policy, and environmental health.

The Eco League

The Eco League is a college consortium in the United States dedicated to environmental learning and the active pursuit of environmental studies. Five colleges make up the consortium, including Alaska Pacific University, College of the Atlantic, Green Mountain College, Northland College, and Prescott College.

The Global Institute of Sustainability

Arizona State University started the Institute to aid in the university's goal of becoming a world leader in sustainability education, research, and "integrated solutions." It hosts a variety of events and is researching topics within the fields of sustainable urban design, landscaping, and many others.

The National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS)

NACUFS works to green collegiate food service companies by providing members with research, education, scholarships, and technical assistance. Particularly noteworthy, the Resources Library on the web site contains a compilation of sustainability efforts in the food service industry.

The Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS)

The UMACS is an organization focusing on sustainability in Minnesota's higher education institutions. Hosted by The College of St. Benedict and St. John's University, the Association serves as a networking tool, information resource, and conference organizer for faculty, physical plant professionals, campus administrators, students, and others seeking to make their campus more sustainable.

Tuft's Climate Initiative

"The Tufts Climate Initiative (TCI) is the pioneer in the field of climate change mitigation at institutions of higher learning." As such, many web resources are made available through this initiative, including carbon offset information, climate mitigations strategies utilized by Tufts University, and general information on climate change.

University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF)

ULSF is an international non-profit organization that works to make sustainability an integral part of every aspect of colleges and universities, from operations and student life to teaching and research. The site provides resources for incorporating sustainability into the curriculum, conducting a sustainability assessment, integrating sustainability into policies and mission statements, research, and tools for campus greening.

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