About Student Sustainability

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Student Sustainability (SS) is the unit of Student Engagement at Illinois that is charged with leading the student body toward building a culture of sustainability on campus. OSS utilizes the collective agency of students to catalyze pragmatic, solution-oriented, and inclusive change in our community.

Illinois students have been sustainability leaders in higher education for years, but we know there is more work to do. So, we’ve set the following new goals to further increase our sustainability effort:

  • Decarbonizing our campus thermal energy systems, increasing our energy procurement from renewable sources, and reaching carbon neutrality no later than 2050.
  • Integrating sustainability into student life and culture in the places we live, eat, and play through campus housing, dining, and recreation.
  • Holistically incorporating environmental justice into our sustainability mission by collaborating with Black, Latino/a/x, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, rural, international, impoverished, and other underserved communities globally, but especially locally in and around Champaign County.

How can students make a difference? Students advocated for a Solar Farm, and now Illinois has one of the largest university-owned photovoltaic arrays in the country. Students volunteer and work at the Sustainable Student Farm that provides more than 50,000 lbs. of locally grown produce per year to the dining halls. Students proposed and passed a referendum to establish the largest university sustainability funding pool in North America—$1.59 million annually. More than 300 sustainability projects, many of which were student-led, have been financed since the referendum was approved by the student body in 2003. A total of $16.7 million has been allocated toward these sustainability initiatives.

Sustainability isn’t just about the big decisions. It’s also about our daily choices: taking a shorter shower, recycling plastics, eating responsibly sourced foods, using zero-emissions modes of transportation, and the hundreds of other little actions we take that add up to have a profound impact on our environment. It’s through the small and big commitments that we’ll build a culture of sustainability at Illinois and create a more promising future for the world.