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Milestones and Awards

Winner of the 2022 U.S. Dept. Of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Award

Tree Campus Higher Education Institution

13 Years Oshkosh Campus
11 years Fox Cities Campus
4 years Fond du Lac Campus

Earth Day 2022, Chancellor Leavitt signs Second Nature’s Climate Commitment and calls for Climate Neutrality by 2030 

UWO awarded $10,000 pro bono consulting services for Climate Action Planning by Brailsford & Dunlavey in partnership with Second Nature 

AASHE STARS Silver in January 2022

Learn more about the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System here

Sustainability Staff has grown to 11 committed staff members

2021 - 2025

2022: Earned Green Ribbon School award

Second Nature Pro-bono Climate Action Consulting 

2016 - 2020

2018: Earned an EPEAT 2-Star Purchaser Award for third consecutive year

The award is given for excellence in sustainable purchasing of electronics. The combined impact of this year’s 38 EPEAT Sustainable Purchasing Award winners resulted in more than $16.8 million in energy savings, greenhouse gas reductions equivalent to removing 29,786 passenger cars from the road for a year and a reduction of more than 702 metric tons of hazardous waste. Read the UWO Today story.

2017: Earned an AASHE STARS Gold certificate for the fifth consecutive year

Go to the AASHE STARS page for more information

2017: Tree Campus USA for 7th consecutive year

Read the UWO today story…

2016: Became a Certified Wildlife Habitat

This important practice is something you can do in your own backyard! Check out the National Wildlife Federation for more information.

2011 - 2015

2015: Signed methane contract

We are now receiving credits for methane destruction.

2015: Certified Monarch Waystation

2015: UW Oshkosh ranked third most sustainable campus in U.S. by the Sierra Club.

Sierra Magazine placed UWO #3 nationally in its annual “Coolest Schools” sustainable schools ranking system. 

2015: UWO listed among top 5 Greenest Universities by

UW Oshkosh was the only campus in Wisconsin to be recognized by as a notable Green University.  The fifth place ranking was based on UW Oshkosh’s gold rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS). 

2015: Climbing up the RecycleMania rankings

We made Top 10 in the Food Waste Diversion Category and placed 35th overall, diverting 51% of our campus waste!

2015: Tower Gardens installed at Blackhawk Commons

Lettuce from the gardens is used at the salad bar. 

2015: 5th consecutive year as a Tree Campus USA

UW Oshkosh was recognized as a “Tree Campus USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation for its dedication to campus trees since 2010. To receive the status, UWO had to meet five standards in the award program. 

2015: Environmental Engineering Technology degree program added

Manufacturers and municipalities alike are looking for graduates to fill this growing field. 

2014: OSA approves Student Green Fund

The fund supplies $60,000 per year towards student-initiated green initiatives. 

2014: UWO ranks 21st in Sierra’s Cool Schools

We were the highest ranked university in Wisconsin! 

2014: Ranked 39th in RecycleMania

This national competition pitted over 250 schools against each other in a waste diversion competition. UWO recycled 46% of our campus waste stream!

2014: Campus Sustainability Plan updated

We accomplished a lot since the first one was written in 2008, but know we cannot rest on past accomplishments. This version of the plan, once again approved by all 4 governance groups, frames campus as a “living, learning laboratory” and focuses on student empowerment and leadership of sustainability initiatives. The Green Fund helps put this focus into practice. 

2014: Creation of Viessman Endowed Chair in Sustainability Technology

In December 2012, Viessmann Group CEO Martin Viessmann and his wife Annette,pledged a generous gift to the UW Oshkosh Foundation to create the University’s first endowed chair. Greg Kleinheinz was chosen as the first to fill the position in fall 2014.

We broke ground in July and celebrated its completion in December. It is estimated the digester will produce 1.4 megawatts of energy, equivalent to ~35% of campus energy needs and enough to power approximately 1,200 homes! Read about the ribbon-cutting ceremony or learn more about our biodigester program.

2013: Collaborative Sustainable Management master’s program begins

2012: UWO community logs over 101,000 rides on Oshkosh city buses

In 2012, UWO community members took to the city bus like never before, collectively logging enough miles to circle the Earth more than 13 times. 

2012: Sage Hall receives LEED Gold

Sage Hall was awarded the Gold certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council. The beautiful building truly stands as a testament to the University’s sustainability commitment. 

2012: College of Business’ Center for Sustainable Enterprise begins

 “The Center for Sustainable Enterprise (CSE) facilitates sustainable practices for new and existing organizations. By working with CSE, you can transform and energize your organization through UW Oshkosh sustainability-focused applied research and programs.”

2012: UWO makes Princeton Review’s “Green Honor Roll”

In 2012 the Princeton Review announced that UW Oshkosh, for the third year in a row, earned a place in its “Guide to Green Colleges,” a spotlight of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada “that demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation.” 

2012: UWO climbs to 14 in Sierra’s “Coolest Schools” program

Yep, we’re cool, as a green school that is. We climbed from number 35 in 2011 to 14 this year in the Sierra Club’s “Coolest Schools” annual rating program published in the Sierra Magazine. 

2012: AASHE STARS Gold rating

The University was the 25th institution in North America and the first in Wisconsin to earn “Gold” in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). 

2011: Inaugural Creating a Stronger Community Contest

2011: BD1, our first biogas project, starts producing power

2011: UWO Finishes 14th in the Nation RecycleMania Tournament

The University finished first in Wisconsin and 14th in the U.S. out of 288 colleges and universities in the Grand Champion Competition of “RecycleMania,” an annual 10-week, waste reduction challenge pitting campuses big and small against one another in a test of their campus recycling and waste-reduction efforts. 

2011: Switch to 100% Recycled Paper

The UW System requires at least 30% recycled paper be used on its campuses, but when we discovered the price difference was minimal and would save 1,100 trees annually the decision to go above and beyond was easy.

2006 - 2010

Fall 2010: Bachelor’s of Environmental Health first becomes available

This degree program is housed in our biology department and trains students in community health, environmental testing, and quality control. 

2010: EPA Green Power Partner Award

2010: Work begins on Horizon Village

The newest residence hall is LEED Gold Certified

2010: Top Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Location

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded UW Oshkosh the top WIAC spot in its annual Green Power Challenge. The University’s nearly 6.5 million kilowatt hours of green power consumption in 2010 beat out its lone WIAC competitor, UW-Stevens Point, which used more than 4.1 million green kilowatt hours.

2010: Sierra Club ranks UWO #35 nationally for sustainability efforts

In August, Sierra Club released its annual Cool Schools rankings, based on the “greenness” of participating universities, with UW Oshkosh ranked 35th in the nation. The Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the nation, and UWO received a perfect 10 score in administration, a score of 9.5 in other initiatives, and scores of eight and nine in academics, purchasing and waste management. 

2009: 1st Move-out day waste diversion efforts

2009: Established a plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2025

As signatories of the ACUPCC, we made a climate commitment in 2007. This year, we fleshed that out into a bold strategy for eliminating fossil fuel usage. Chancellor Wells said, “We took seriously the challenge of committing to a bold Climate Action Plan that will allow us to continue to provide leadership in sustainability to the state and the country…Setting an aggressive timeline is important to us as we strive to continue to lead the nation.” 

2009: Campus Facilities repurposes an old grocery store building

2009: Hired our 1st Sustainability Director

This person and the office they manage serve as the hub for reporting, outreach, and institutionalization of sustainability goals

2008: Student Success Center Renovations

The design is LEED Silver Certified and includes geothermal heating. The SSC is the only campus building not connected to the main heating system!

2008: First University in the USA to declare a Fair Trade University

In 2008 UWO declared itself a Fair Trade University, following a model developed in the UK. This effort was championed by Environmental Studies Chair David Barnhill and passed through all 4 campus governance groups. The campus has built relationships between campus dining and retail operations, students, faculty, staff, and administrators to expand awareness and the availability of Fair Trade products on campus. 

The plan was drafted by faculty and staff to extend our initial sustainability effort beyond the scope of operations to teaching, research, and res life. The Council’s purpose and role is to advise campus administration as they lead us in sustainability efforts. One aspect of this is to make sure sustainability is included in our Strategic Plan.

2007: Oshkosh Sports Complex Partnership

The grass at Titan Stadium was replaced with turf, saving 850,000gals of irrigation water annually!

2007: Student Recreation & Wellness Center opens

The center was funded by and designed for students.

2007: Signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment

This visionary commitment was initiated by 12 college and university presidents from across the US and supported by Second Nature, AASHE, and ecoAmerica. Over 100 schools signed on to the ACUPCC in 2007, and UWO was among them.

2007: Became a member of ACORE

(American Council on Renewable Energy)

2006: Green power purchasing increased from 4% to 11%

2000 - 2005 (and before)

2005: Taylor Hall Renovations

We like to call Taylor Hall our first “LEED-inspired” building!

2005: Received Energy Star Award

This award honors “organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency”.

2004: Received National Wildlife Federation Award

2003: EPA Recognition

We were the eleventh university in the US to receive the EPA Leadership Award and the first Wisconsin university to join their Green Power partnership, receiving the Green Power Purchaser Award in 2003.

2001: Signed the Earth Charter pledge

Driven by Andy Robson, Associate Dean of Letters & Science, and approved by all 4 campus governance groups, the Earth Charter commits UWO to “respect and care for the community of life” by supporting 1) ecological integrity 2) social & economic justice and 3) democracy, nonviolence & peace. We host a Earth Charter community summit each fall to remind ourselves of these principles, examine our progress, and plan for even more improvements.

2000: Environmental audits completed

Students took initiative, requesting environmental audits to create a baseline from which to improve. Chancellor Wells, Dean of Students Tom Sonnleitner, and Professor Steve Arndt were all supportive and this kicked off the operational efficiency phase of our sustainability story.

2000 and Before

Late 1990: Environmental Studies program begins

Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations


UW Oshkosh
800 Algoma Blvd.
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Contact Info:

(920) 424-0440
SIRT Office: 4483 Sage Hall