Washington University in St. Louis has the goal to serve as a national leader in sustainability. The awards and recognition listed below exemplify our regional and national excellence on a number of sustainability fronts. 


In 2022, WashU was recognized nationally for its institution-wide sustainability efforts and earned a gold STARS certification from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).  The certification level was determined by the University’s performance in Academics, Engagement, Operations, Planning & Administration, Innovation & Leadership.

The university also landed in AASHE’s top 10 in the category of Diversity & Affordability for the second time in the 2022 Sustainable Campus Index, earning recognition for the many programs and departmental support for notable Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives that have crystallized over the last half-decade. Need-blind tuition and other recent commitments provide access to a greater pool of exceptional students.


In 2020, the League of American Bicyclists has officially recognized WashU with a Gold Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) award, joining 38 other visionary colleges and universities from across the country. This award is the culmination of years of intentional efforts across departments to build a safer, more comfortable, and more convenient campus for all users.

WashU is the first in Missouri to have achieved this status, and one of a few in the Midwest who have received a higher level BFU designation (Gold or Platinum).


In 2021, the WashU School of Medicine received the League of American Bicyclists’ honorable designation at the Silver level. The Bicycle Friendly Business award recognizes an organization’s contributions toward building a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.

Due to the Medical Campus’s high employee-to-student ratio, the sustainability staff in the Operations & Facilities Management Department submitted the application for Bicycle Friendly Business rather than University.


In 2020, Washington Unversity in St. Louis is one of three recipients for the RideFinders 2020 Regional Sustainability Award, which recognizes WashU for adding the most registered carpools over the last 18 months, reducing traffic congestion, and joining in the effort to improve air quality in the St. Louis region. 

According to Ridefinders, “This year’s Regional Sustainability Award winners have demonstrated likeminded efforts in fulfilling that mission and placing the region on the path toward a more sustainable future.”


In 2020, Washington University in St. Louis has been awarded a Level 2 accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and the Morton Arboretum for achieving standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens.

The Danforth Campus boasts 169 acres featuring a diverse collection of trees. The 5,300 trees on campus range from well-established historical trees to newly planted, climate-resilient ones.


Washington University in St. Louis annually renews “Tree Campus Higher Education” certification (formerly Tree Campus USA), which recognizes participants for their commitment to encouraging students and university personnel to care for the planet’s tree resources. Tree Campus Higher Education is an initiative through the Arbor Day Foundation that has recognized over 400 universities for their dedication to their campus environment.

WashU is proudly meeting the criteria for recognition and beyond: creating a tree campus advisory committee, creating a campus tree care plan, creating a campus tree funding program, holding an Arbor Day observance, and completing a service learning project.


Washington University’s East End Transformation received an Honor award for the category from the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Excellence in its Planning for a District or Campus Component. The SCUP Excellence in Planning Award honors achievement in strategic, integrated planning that results in exemplary buildings and grounds, institutional success, and careers that inspire.

Regarding the Transformation, the jury states, “this ambitious overall plan beautifully reaches back to the history of the campus . . . putting parking underground and creating a new green with surrounding buildings is brilliant . . . wonderful and inspiring.”

The East End Transformation is also featured on the cover of the February 2020 issue of Architect Magazine. The Architect Magazine is the official journal put out by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and is widely considered to be the “voice” of the architectural profession. 

In a 25-page spread, the article, titled “The Decarbonization of Washington University,” explores the east end project, its connections to the original campus plan, drafted in 1899, and the university’s larger commitments to sustainability and resource conservation.


As of 2020, Washington University in St. Louis counts a total of thirty-three LEED certified projects. Twenty-one of the 33 projects have exceeded LEED Silver, including thirteen Gold and eight Platinum, for a total of 3.25 million square feet of LEED certified space. Thirty percent of university-owned space on the Danforth and School of Medicine campuses is now LEED certified.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC).


At the end of 2019, WashU was ranked 60th among the World’s Most Sustainable Universities, according to the UI Green Metric World University Rankings. Washington University ranked 5th among participants located within the United States.

UI GreenMetric World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings on sustainability. It is an initiative from the University of Indonesia that ranks universities around the world based on their commitment and actions towards sustainability. UI GreenMetric World University Rankings aims to increase university awareness towards sustainability.


Pollution prevention (P2) is any practice that reduces, eliminates or prevents pollution at its source. By being selected to receive a EPA Region 7 Pollution Prevention Award in 2020, WashU has been recognized to be a “leader in pollution prevention, sustainability, and climate change mitigation for nearly two decades”.

The university is being recognized for its installation of low-flow shower heads in residential housing, new energy and lighting retrofits, and improved training and internal policies to minimize chemical spills and leaks. Additionally, WashU has invested over $5 million in projects and equipment to limit carbon emissions and water usage since 2016, with at least another $4.1 million to be invested in 2020.


In November 2019, eight WashU students representing the Congress of the South 40 (CS40) and the Luminescence Chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH) participated in the Midwest Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (MACURH) Regional Leadership Conference, hosted at Saint Louis University.

This year, WashU won the regional Commitment to Sustainability Award, which recognizes student-directed, yearlong and campus-wide sustainability and ecological initiatives. WashU’s winning submission highlighted a number of initiatives and campaigns.