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 2018, 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, earning kudos for the Environmental Justice Initiative, which strives to catalyze social justice and environmental justice collaborations, as well as other notable Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives that have crystallized over the last half-decade.


In 2017, the League of American Bicyclists has officially recognized WashU with a Silver Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) award, joining 54 other visionary colleges and universities from across the country.

This designation is a significant accomplishment for the university and recognition of the commitment to the Strategic Plan for Sustainable Operations, which outlined a goal to achieve a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly University designation by the next BFU award submission in 2017.


In 2019, Washington University in St. Louis has been awarded a Level 1 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 4,200 trees on campus range from well-established historical trees to newly planted, climate-resilient ones.


Washington University in St. Louis annually seeks re-certification as a “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 USA is an initiative through the Arbor Day Foundation that has recognized 333 other 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.


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.


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.


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.