Wisconsin Union

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is focused on integrating sustainability into building design and function. Union South and Memorial Union are two of the most populated buildings on campus, attracting current and incoming students, faculty, staff and visitors to the university. The unions on campus serve as an example of our diverse sustainable initiatives.


Composting: Compost bins are available at Union South for food waste. Please use these bins whenever possible. The university produces about four tons of compost each week that is used for fertilizer and landscaping projects on campus.

Composting Bins at UW Union SouthWaste-reducing biodegradable products: All plates and to-go containers have been changed from Styrofoam to Nature Friendly biodegradable sugar-cane bagasse products.

Local food options: Breads and bakery items are made locally. Produce is purchased from local farmers during their growing seasons when possible.

Reusable mugs and water bottles: Customers are rewarded for being environmentally friendly: all Union restaurants, markets and cafes offer discounts on coffee and soda if you bring your own mug. Don’t have one? The Wisconsin Union sells mugs than can be reused. Also look for the water bottle filling stations on water fountains through the buildings.

Devoted people: A Wisconsin Union Food Committee focuses on sustainability and constantly analyzes current dining operations and researches ways to become more sustainable.

Memorial Union

Phase I of the Memorial Union redesign project was completed in July 2014. The new design incorporated the authenticity of the original memorial union with new sustainable features. The renovated building has energy efficient windows, additional insulation and upgraded mechanical systems to promote energy efficiency.  The building team worked towards reusing and repurposing as much material as they could in the renovation, including a tree that was torn for the renovation now being used as a bar in the Stiftskellar. To date the project has a 95 percent recycling rate.

Memorial Union is currently tracking LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Silver rating.

Union South

Union South is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Colorful banners adorn the northwest entrance of Union South.

In 2007, the design committee for Union South chose to use Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a quantitative tool used to measure sustainability. The committee targeted a silver designation, one of four LEED levels, but the building was ultimately designated gold. Only one other college union in the nation (the University of Vermont) has that designation.

Campus Dining Services

The Wisconsin Union Dining Services Division is committed to becoming good stewards of the earth by reducing environmental impact of short-term and long-term business plans.  The process has begun by forming campus and community partnerships, evaluating current operations, implementing new programs, and getting staff and students informed and involved. By supporting the Wisconsin Union, you are supporting practices that create a better environment.

Back to Campus Operations