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UW-Madison Sustainability Highlights, 2018-2019

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Sustainability @ UW-Madison v2

STARS silver rating sealIn 2017 campus governance units resolved that UW–Madison create and implement a campus-wide climate action plan. Thanks to these resolutions and with a strong commitment from the Chancellor, the university collected data in accordance with STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System. STARS offers varying levels of certification depending on points earned by an institution. Collectively, colleges and universities enjoy an expanded understanding and responsibility for sustainability as a result of measuring and tracking their efforts. It also provides a mechanism for new ideas to be generated and helps engage the community toward real progress.

The STARS data collection process was the product of cross-campus partnerships and collaboration. A Sustainability Data Working Group (SDWG) was convened by Chancellor Blank to assist the Office of Sustainability in this effort.

On October 7, 2019, Chancellor Blank announced that UW-Madison received a STARS silver rating. Read more here or access the public report.


Sustainability Highlights
Fiscal Year Reports
Climate Action Resolutions (2017)


Affordability and Access

In 2018, 15.3% of entering students were low-income with a six year graduation rate of almost 84%. Over half of students graduate with no interest-bearing loans.


Building Energy Use

Buildings represent the largest source of energy consumption on campus. Campus has reduced building energy use by 19% per square foot since 2007.


Campus Waste Generation

Every person utilizing campus contributes to our collective waste generation. Campus has reduced total waste by over 13% per campus user since 2007. In 2018, over 43% of waste generated on campus was diverted from the landfill.


Campus Water Use

Water is consumed by all campus users and is integral to efficient campus heating and cooling. Campus reduced potable water use by almost 22% per campus user since 2007.


Faculty and Staff Diversity

Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for campus. In 2018, 49% of faculty and staff were women and over 21% identified as a minority.

Green Events

The Green Events program provides guidance and resources to improve the sustainability of events on the UW-Madison campus. To-date, over 10 events have completed the Green Events certification process.


Green Labs

The Green Labs program provides the information and tools needed to create healthy and sustainable laboratory environments. The Green Labs team has worked with three labs on campus to implement, evaluate, and benchmark green lab strategies.


Green Office

The Green Office Certification program helps campus offices become more sustainable workplaces. Since 2017 a total of 43 offices have participated in the Green Office program. In FY18 2 offices had completed the full certification process.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Campus users and facility operations result in greenhouse gas emissions. Campus has reduced emissions by over 41% per campus user since 2007.


Student Diversity

We fulfill our public mission by creating a welcoming and inclusive community for people from every background. In 2018, 51% of students were women and over 16% identified as a minority.

Sustainability in Courses

Courses offered across campus address the many different facets of sustainability. In 2018, over 6% of courses offered included sustainability topics.


Sustainability in Programs

In addition to courses, degree programs across campus address sustainability. In 2018, over 13% of graduating students received a degree from a program that has adopted at least one sustainability related learning outcome.


Sustainability in Research

As a premier research institution, experts across campus are pushing the fields incorporated in sustainability. In 2018, over 7% of principal investigators on campus were engaged in funded research related to sustainability.


Sustainable Food and Beverage Purchasing

From the Unions to Dining Markets, there are a variety of food options available on campus. In 2018, over 7% of food purchased was sources from local or community-based sources.