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Northwestern wins 2018 Illinois Sustainability Award

Award recognizes leaders in environmental health and sustainability
Kresge Centennial Hall is Northwestern's first LEED Platinum green certified building.

Northwestern University has received the 2018 Illinois Sustainability Award. The longest-running environmental program in the state of Illinois, the award recognizes public and private organizations that demonstrate commitment to reducing their environmental impact.

Members of sustainNU, Northwestern’s sustainability office, accepted the award Oct. 23 at the 2018 Sustainability Awards ceremony at the Union League Club of Chicago. Cathy Stepp, regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, delivered the event’s keynote speech.

The program honored Northwestern for its extensive progress in reducing the University’s environmental footprint and advancing sustainability by engaging the campus community. Northwestern is currently working to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“This award is a true testament of what an engaged campus community can accomplish,” said Kathia Benitez, Northwestern’s sustainability director. “We are honored to win the award, competing with local government leaders committing to reduce their environmental impact. Collectively our efforts are taking our community one step closer to mitigating the effects of climate change. We are resetting our environment and ensuring its livelihood for generations to follow.”

Two years ago, Northwestern released its first Strategic Sustainability Plan, which outlines steps for eventually eliminating the University’s contribution to climate change. Since the plan was developed, Northwestern received its first LEED Platinum green building certification, added 16 electric vehicles to the University fleet and diverted 38 percent of campus waste from landfills through reuse, recycling and composting. It also received the 2018 Energy Star Partner of the Year Award for its efforts to reduce campus energy consumption and educate students, faculty, staff and the broader community about energy efficiency. 

Sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois’ Coastal Management Program and Nicor Gas, the award program is administered through the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute. Past recipients include Abbott Labs, United Airlines, Farmland Foods and Motorola.