Office of Sustainability SIRE Award Program

The Office of Sustainability is charged with promoting sustainability research and education on the UW–Madison campus and creating intersections between UW–Madison campus operations and the research and education enterprises that promote sustainability. The Sustainability Innovation in Research and Education (SIRE) awards program was created in 2012 to support this mission and to stimulate innovation in research and education related to sustainability on the UW–Madison campus.

SIRE awards are intended to nurture the research and educational enterprise with the intent that larger, extramurally-funded initiatives will develop in sustainability research and education. Each year the grants have focused on specific topics, including food, energy and buildings, curriculum development, and metrics to measure campus sustainability efforts. Interdisciplinary proposals are given special consideration.

The SIRE program now offers four award types to support projects that meet different aspects of the program’s goals:


SIRE-ED awards are intended to foster new curriculum and educational opportunities as articulated in the Campus Strategic Framework, such as creation of new courses, integration of sustainability into existing courses, online and distance-delivered courses, and development of new pedagogical tools for sustainability-related education. Courses that can be incorporated into the new Sustainability Certificate are of particular interest.


SIRE-RI is a seed award program intended to nurture research ideas that can subsequently be developed into larger, extramurally-funded initiatives. This intent is coupled directly with the campus objective of responsible stewardship of resources as articulated in the Campus Strategic Framework.


The SIRE-MEI is a planning grant program intended to provide faculty with the resources necessary to prepare competitive proposals for major interdisciplinary sustainability grants such as SEES grants offered by NSF, sustainability research center grants from USEPA, AFRI sustainability grants offered by USDA, renewable energy grants offered by DOE, etc.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


The SIRE-REU initiative is a supplement program analogous to REU supplements offered by the National Science Foundation. The intent is to enhance research expertise in undergraduate students and to develop recruiting pipelines for undergraduates to pursue graduate degrees at UW–Madison in sustainability-related fields.

Application periods open twice a year for summer and academic year awards.


Current SIRE Awards

2015: Zero waste; Sustainability Certificate

Fall 2014 REU program


Previous SIRE Awards

2014: Developing solutions to address climate change

2013: Developing cutting-edge and practical methods to measure campus-wide sustainability metrics

2012: Buildings and energy, food sustainability, and creating new sustainability-related courses for UW–Madison