The award is one of three Environmental Pacesetter awards the cabinet presents each year to individuals, businesses and organizations that demonstrate environmental leadership.
Receiving it “shows that the university is serious about sustainability issues and is moving forward,” said Larry Detherage, associate vice president of facilities.
Many people on campus are working on different fronts to integrate sustainability into the university’s daily activities, including facility operations, curriculum and research. KDEP specifically awarded UofL’s efforts in facility and campus operations where successes include:
- Reducing energy consumption by more than $4.6 million a year
- Reclaiming more than 200 acres of brownfields around campus
- Adopting single-stream recycling to reduce landfill waste
- Winning Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for six buildings
- Building close-in housing facilities for more than 4,000 students
- Offering alternative transportation options such as free rides on TARC and an Earn-A-Bike program
“A lot of people on campus just think of recycling when it comes to sustainability efforts, but we are doing a lot more,” said Terri Rutledge, assistant vice president for business affairs.
The university began ramping up its sustainability efforts in 2008 after President James Ramsey signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a pledge by nearly 700 higher education leaders to address climate change.
In 2011, UofL became one of the first U.S. higher learning institutions to earn a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) Silver rating. The university recently appeared on the Sierra Club “Cool Schools” list for the fifth straight year, and last year it earned national recognition for increasing the amount of locally grown or produced food it uses from 15 percent to 24 percent.