October: Celebrating Sustainability on Campus


It’s Leah, the Live Green! Social Media Engagement Intern. I am excited to share with you everything that is happening this month! 

October’s social media campaign, Sustainability on Campus, will offer information and insight about how to be sustainable on campus. Posts will include different insights on how to live sustainably while living the college lifestyle. This includes walking, boarding, or biking to class, choosing a reusable coffee cup (and saving 35 cents every time!!), checking out sustainability lectures and much more. 

October is also a very special month for Live Green! as it is Campus Sustainability Month. Throughout the month we will be celebrating sustainability in higher education, especially at the Campus Sustainability Month Celebration on October 25th. Read on to learn more details about the event and how Campus Sustainability Month has become the event it is today.

Campus Sustainability Month is an international celebration of sustainability in higher education. This event was created by AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. AASHE first launched in December of 2005, being the first professional higher education association for the campus sustainability community in North America. AASHE celebrated their first Campus Sustainability Month in October of 2015. This builds on Campus Sustainability Day, which was usually celebrated on the fourth Wednesday in October since 2003. Since then, AASHE has been holding professional development workshops and webinars, they have created a STARS program for measuring university’s sustainability performance, they have been holding yearly global conferences on sustainability in higher education and much more. 

STARS is one of AASHE’s signatory initiatives, focused on collective sustainability performance and benchmarking. STARS is intended to engage and recognize the full spectrum of higher education institutions, from community colleges to research universities, related to sustainability commitment. It encompasses long-term sustainability goals for already high-achieving institutions, as well as entry points of recognition for institutions that are taking first steps in sustainability. Through participating in STARS, an institution can earn points toward a STARS Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum Rating. So far here at Iowa State University, we have received a total of three Gold Ratings. We first received gold in 2013, then again in 2017 and 2019. 

Iowa State University’s overarching commitment toward a sustainable future was officially announced in 2008 with the Live Green! Initiative. The Initiative encourages all students, faculty and staff to be fully committed to and engaged in making our campus, its operations and initiatives as green as possible. 

In February of 2009, the university held the first annual Symposium on Sustainability – dedicated to the celebration and showcasing of ISU student, faculty and staff sustainability commitment, initiatives and accomplishments. The Symposium on Sustainability was the first of many events to support and further the Live Green! Initiative, over the last fourteen years.

Over the years, sustainability, through the Live Green! Initiative, has been incorporated throughout campus projects, initiatives, experiences and operations. Numerous environmental, economic and social sustainability efforts are in place, as well as in planning, to help Iowa State minimize its day-to-day footprint, as well as forge a sustainable tradition (on and off-campus) for future generations of Cyclones. Some of these commitments include incorporating sustainability into campus operations through buildings and grounds, dining, health and wellness, transportation, residence, waste management and water. Specific initiatives  include the design and construction of sustainable buildings, the adoption of solar-powered trash compactors, the purchase of local foods, as well as the exclusive use of green products to clean all campus facilities. These are only a few examples of Iowa State’s many innovative projects. Read more on the Live Green! website! And check out the Now You Know section of the October ISU sustainability newsletter, Live Green! Monthly. Our Marketing and Communications team wrote a great companion article to this blog.

Today, Live Green! continues initiatives of educating, engaging and empowering students, faculty and staff on campus. No matter the season, Iowa State University offers a number of sustainability-related events, organizations and clubs for everyone to get involved. One way to get involved is to join a Green Team on campus. Green Teams are groups of faculty, staff and students who have voluntarily come together with the goal of furthering sustainability practices, policies, behaviors and opportunities at Iowa State University. These teams are organized in conjunction with various alliances representing specific buildings, colleges, departments and functional areas across campus. To learn more about ISU’s Green Teams, check out Green Teams on the Live Green! website. If green teams are not for you, we have many more opportunities to get involved on campus. 

Attending a green event on campus is another great way to engage in green living. Live Green! hosts five on-campus events throughout the academic year, allowing us to celebrate sustainability while also encouraging others to become engaged in green living. These special occasions incorporate guest lectures, hands-on activities, green art and many more exciting endeavors. These events include Earth Day, Local Food Festival, Sustainapalooza, Symposium on Sustainability and Campus Sustainability Month Celebration. Refer to the Live Green! Calendar of Events, on the Live Green! website to keep up with all the green happenings.

As well as taking part in community initiatives and impact, we all have the opportunity to make individual decisions every day that build collectively toward a  sustainable future. Did you know that adjusting your thermostat at night can save 5-10% off your heating bill? Or that gaming consoles consume nearly as much power when left idle as they are when being played? Our How to Live Green! webpage, on the Live Green! website is full of tips, tricks and insights to help you become more sustainable in your daily life. Not only are these green practices better for the planet but they can also save you time and money! 

Speaking of individual opportunities and connections… make sure you mark your calendars for October 25!  The Campus Sustainability Month Celebration is going to be here before we know it! Join us on the South Library Lawn on Tuesday, October 25 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.. The theme of this year’s event, “The Urgency is NOW”, reminds us all that now is the time to take sustainable actions to ensure a sustainable, just and healthy future for all. Students, faculty and staff are invited to stop by the event to learn about campus and community sustainability efforts and how to implement sustainability practices into their everyday lives. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with sustainability-minded campus and community organizations to learn about sustainability initiatives on campus and throughout the community. Free bike tune-ups and refreshments will be provided, as well as the opportunity to earn sustainability-themed prizes. More information and all the “need to know updates” can be found on the Facebook Event page for more details!

As the year moves forward, please consider the Live Green! Leadership Team as your sustainable resource for connection to information, events and opportunities to get involved with sustainability on campus, and also throughout the community. Stay tuned for a month of tips, resources, connections and “did you know” stories and posts on our social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, as we round out this month’s campaign. And stay tuned for November’s Recycling Easy campaign. 

Happy Campus Sustainability Month! See you on the 25th. 


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