National Campus Sustainability Day 2015

On a beautiful Thursday morning, 35 organizations arrived on the south library lawn. Spirits were high as each table set up fluttering banners and colorful displays. Students and faculty members in the area slowed their pace as they walked by the celebration and entered the bustling crowd, curious about the lively scene. They quickly learned that they had arrived at Iowa State’s National Campus Sustainability Day celebration.

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What is National Campus Sustainability Day?

National Campus Sustainability Day is celebrated as a part of National Campus Sustainability Month (NCSM).  Every October, The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in High Education (AASHE) holds NCSM in order to “provide an unparalleled series of opportunities to engage and inspire incoming students and other campus stakeholders to become sustainability change agents.”1

This year, National Campus Sustainability Day (or NCSD) was held on Thursday, October 15th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. NCSD is an annual event hosted by The Green Umbrella student organization, in partnership with the Live Green! Initiative and the Office of Sustainability at Iowa State University. This year the theme was Campus as Catalysts, which encourages the idea that our campus can act as a catalyst for change!

The goal of the event was to raise awareness of sustainability, encourage involvement in green organizations, and demonstrate how students (and faculty and staff) can make a difference.

This year, Iowa State University was among 56 total colleges and universities that participated in NCSM! To learn more about the participating colleges and their wonderful events, visit this link.


Connecting the Community

NCSD brought together businesses and clubs that promote sustainable goals, practices, and events. This year, 35 diverse organizations from the Iowa State campus and the Ames community participated in the event.

Each of the 35 organizations represented one or more facets of sustainability. Sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. There are three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental sustainability.2

  • Environmental sustainability: taking care of the needs of our planet; this facet includes all of the behaviors that strive to maintain the natural ebb and flow of our ecosystem
  • Economic sustainability: implementing equitable and socially sound practices for using money in an economically sustainable way
  • Social sustainability: embracing the diversity in our community, connecting to the community, and giving back through volunteerism

For more information about the three pillars of sustainability, revisit our previous blog post here.


5th Annual NCSD Celebration!

This year marked Iowa State University’s 5th celebration of NCSD!  Each year, the event has grown bigger and bigger.  An estimated 1,000 students, faculty, and staff attended this year’s National Campus Sustainability Day! 

In addition to learning about sustainability, attendees also enjoyed free refreshments of hot chocolate, coffee, and cookies. The event received generous donations from Starbucks, who donated 5 gallons of coffee, and Insomnia Cookies, who donated 100 cookies. With the addition of cookies that the Live Green! Team purchased locally for the event, over 460 cookies were eaten in total!


The Green Umbrella and Live Green! collaborated with Outdoor Recreation to provide free bike tune ups for Iowa State students, faculty and staff! In three hours, the Outdoor Rec team tuned up 100 bikes.


While visiting organizations, attendees had the opportunity to win sustainable prizes. Attendees entering the event received a punch card with twenty circles each representing an organization. If attendees spoke to a member of an organization, a circle would be crossed off on their prize card. The more organizations visited, the more prizes they were eligible to win!

Prizes included:

  • Visit 5+ organizations = Live Green! button and sticker
  • Visit 10+ organizations = refillable bamboo post-it note booklet
  • Visit 15+ organizations = reusable coffee mug
  • Visit 20 organizations = drawing for door prizes (a big thanks to local businesses that provided sustainably-minded donations including: Dogtown University, University Bookstore and Wordly Goods)

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To be eligible for any prizes, attendees were also asked to sign the pledge wall and write one way that they plan to be more sustainable.  This was a great way to get the campus community thinking about how to become more sustainable, in all of their daily activities and decisions!  Pledges ranged from riding a bike to creating less waste to taking shorter showers. 


Overall, the event was a HUGE success! It gave students, faculty and staff the opportunity to learn more about sustainability, become more involved, and discover that each person can make a difference.

If you are part of an organization that missed participating in NCSD, please contact or to participate in Earth Day (Friday, April 22)!

To view photos of the event and past NCSD events, visit this link: NCSD Photos

Photos by Grace (Jieun) Lee


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