May 18, 2023

Practicing what it teaches, environmentally friendly Purdue earns sustainability honor from U.S. Department of Education

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University doesn’t just teach environmental consciousness. The Big Ten university is doing something about it by reducing its water use by one-third in the last 11 years, planting 2,000 trees since 2020 and adding nearly 7 miles of bicycle infrastructure.

For advancing a campuswide culture of sustainability, Purdue has been named a 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Postsecondary Sustainability Awardee.

The award acknowledges Purdue’s leadership in a holistic approach to sustainability with a commitment to a sustainable campus through a comprehensive master plan, improved health and wellness, and effective environmental education. Purdue was nominated by the Indiana Commission of Higher Education to submit an application for this program.

“Receiving this honor affirms that Purdue University is a leader in sustainability among other colleges and universities in the state and nation,” said Jay Wasson, vice president and chief public safety officer for Purdue’s Physical Facilities and Public Safety. “We are honored to be recognized at the state and federal level for our ongoing sustainability efforts and provision of a campus environment where students receive world-class education at the highest proven value.”

Tony Gillund, sustainability director for Purdue Campus Planning, Architecture and Sustainability, said intentional actions add up to significant results over time in the realm of sustainability.

The submission highlighted operational achievements like progress toward the 2020 Physical Facilities Sustainability Master Plan, which outlines 13 actionable and measurable goals across the overarching categories of energy, water, materials, and buildings and grounds. This includes the planting of more than 2,000 trees over the past three years and the addition of nearly 7 miles of bicycle infrastructure.

Additionally, the university has reduced domestic water use by nearly 30% between FY11 and FY22; diverted more than 50,000 tons of materials through recycling, composting and reuse over the past decade; has been named a Tree Campus USA for 14 consecutive years; and continues to work with Duke Energy on a feasibility study to explore the use of advanced nuclear technology to meet the campus community’s long-term energy needs. 

The submission also detailed the educational aspect and sustainability-related degree programs along with other opportunities Purdue offers.

“Recognizing how much our campus environment can contribute to student well-being, we continue to make Purdue both greener and more pedestrian-friendly than ever before. We're equally proud that our environmental and ecological engineering program is ranked 11th nationally,” said Patrick Wolfe, Purdue University provost. “Led by our newest elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, Professor John Sutherland, this program teaches a systems approach to environmental engineering and includes significant course requirements in ecology, sustainability and industrial ecology.”

Across the country, 26 schools, 11 districts and four postsecondary institutions have been honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 18 states.

Physical Facilities and Campus Planning, Architecture and Sustainability are part of Purdue’s Administrative Operations organization, which supports the university through safe, reliable and transformative services. Making persistent progress toward sustainability goals and collaborating with campus partners for the betterment of the campus community are just a few ways the organization powers Purdue. 

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last five years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-23 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at