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A commitment to sustainability

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is among the country’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to the 2022 edition of the Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges. 

The Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Sustainability and Climate Action, the Student Office of Sustainability, the Barron County Sustainability Committee, UWEC Facilities, and sustainability-minded staff and faculty from across campus provide guidance and support in this work.

Awards & Certifications:

Logo saying
Tree Campus logo
Certified Arboretum level one logo
Monarch Waystation badge

Sustainability Map


Implementing Sustainability

Progress, plans and reports:

Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Sustainability and Climate Action

UW-Eau Claire formed a group of experienced and knowledgeable participants to help foster collaborations for the purpose of increasing awareness of sustainability concepts throughout the campus community and educating/engaging students, faculty, staff and community members. This committee evolved out of the Chancellor’s Task Force on Sustainability and Climate Action, which put forward the following recommendations in 2021.

Overarching Goal: To position UW-Eau Claire and UW-Eau Claire Barron County as regional leaders in sustainability and climate action education, engagement, and programming.

Planning, Implementation, and Assessment:

  • Create a Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Sustainability and Climate Action that reports directly to the Chancellor
  • Establish a campus Sustainability Coordinator and Office of Sustainability Engaging our Campus and Chippewa Valley Community
  • Create the Chippewa Watershed Project to expand Sustainability and Climate

Action curriculum and programming

  • Create a Sustainability and Climate Action Certificate for Students/Community
  • Create High Impact Sustainability and Climate Action Learning Experiences
    • International Programs and Research
    • Service Learning/Internships/Academic Connections
  • Collaborate with Advising, Retention, and Career Counseling (ARCC) to locate potential employers interested in hiring or offering internships
  • Model specific sustainability and climate action practices across the UWEC campuses
    •  Vendor and purchasing contracts and travel offsets
    • Campus certifications (Bee campus; LEED certification; STARS, etc.)
    • Create training modules regarding waste, public transportation, and other sustainability and climate issues for students, faculty, and staff
  • Elevate a culture of sustainability through strong web-presence, campus signage

Cutting Carbon

  • Pursue fiscally practical, easily implemented energy efficiency projects in all UWEC and UWECBC buildings
  • Create a de-centralized, geo exchange heating/cooling system for HSS / HFA (feasibility study completed October 2020)
  • Investigate and apply innovative financing and true cost of carbon accounting to prioritize carbon emissions and energy reduction efforts
  • Create a utility/energy master plan for UWEC campuses
    • Establish benchmark energy performance standards in all UWEC and UWECBC buildings
    • Implement deep energy retrofits for older low efficiency buildings in all UWEC and UWECBC buildings
    • Set targets and purchase or acquire on-campus Renewable Energy generation capacity to achieve those targets
    • Geo System conversions for 50-100% of campus
  • Support and publicize carbon-free electricity commitments by Xcel Energy and investments already made by UW System and SOS
  • Purchase, if and as needed, renewable energy credits (RECs) or green power contracts to meet the interim targets
  • Identify carbon emissions and energy reduction initiatives in which the benefits costs could be shared by the City of Eau Claire and UWECBC
  • Create a joint renewable energy initiative by 2025 among local partners

2025 Strategic Plan and Carbon Commitment

UW-Eau Claire's 2025 Strategic Plan affirms our commitment to supporting sustainable campuses and climate action.

The University plans to advance our commitment to the value of stewardship and sustainability by:

  • Working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050
  • Implementing carbon-free and carbon-reduced systems in existing and new buildings
  • Seeking third-party certification for new buildings
  • Preparing students for civic leadership by integrating sustainability into experiential learning opportunities, undergraduate research and internships, and into academic curriculum on all campuses
  • Increasing partnerships, especially throughout the Chippewa Valley, that support education, student internships, research and action at the intersection of sustainability, EDI and health and wellbeing
  • Preserving, enhancing and stewarding Wisconsin’s most beautiful campuses

Climate Action Plan

In 2017 Chancellor James Schmidt convened a campus Climate Action Plan Advisory Committee (CAPAC) to identify meaningful and actionable emissions reduction strategies. The committee included representatives from administration, academic departments, housing, facilities, and student government (see Appendix for full list of members). The committee was charged with determining the year in which the University is to achieve carbon neutrality and the carbon emission reduction strategies needed to meet the goal of carbon neutrality. 

Please find the results of this work in Climate Action Plan 2018.

Carbon Footprint Reports 2017-2021

Read about UW-Eau Claire's Carbon Footprint Reports from 2018-2021.

Sustainability in Dining

At UWEC we strive to be a sustainable university. For this reason we engage in the following actions to keep our campus eco-friendly:


Composting has the potential to significantly alter the amount a waste we throw into our local landfills. Blugold Catering is proud to use compostable plates, cups and dinnerware whenever possible.

Local Food

Blugold Catering tries to source locally grown food whenever possible and financially feasible. Due to the shorter growing season in Wisconsin and Minnesota, the majority of locally grown food is available in the late summer through early fall. We use Bix Produce from the Twin Cities for a majority of our local produce.

Trayless Initiative

After a Trayless Tuesdays program during 2008–09, Blugold Dining went completely trayless in 2009. Going trayless has reduced food waste by more than 50 percent, and has saved on natural resources needed to wash the more than 6,000 trays a day that had been customarily used.

Environmental Consciousness

Currently, on average, 21-25% of food served by Sodexo is plant based, which reduces carbon emissions tied to the production of meat. Sodexo has committed to providing 33% plant based diets by 2024 and 42% plant based options by 2025 in all college campuses in North America.  

Additionally, our new Ecolab Apex dishwashing system, combines technology and products designed to save water and energy, minimizes the impact of waste products on the environment, and has a built-in method of measuring results.

Learn more about sustainability initiatives from Blugold Dining

THE (Times Higher Education) Impact Rankings

UWEC SDG data for Impact Ranking

Launched in 2019, this pioneering initiative looks to recognize universities across the world for their social and economic impact based on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the last 4 years, it has grown to cover 1,524 institutions from 110 countries and regions across six continents as universities around the world help to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.Impact Rankings provide a measure of the extent to which universities are having a positive social and economic impact on the planet; from climate action and gender equality, to good health and wellbeing. It is the first university ranking to use this criteria, rather than traditional metrics, such as reputation and research prestige.

Photo of a bee flying toward a purple flower.

At UWEC we use a variety of tactics to protect and enhance pollinator habitat on campus. While UWEC does not directly participate in No Mow May, our facilities staff work hard to maintain a healthy environment for pollinators.

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