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History & Achievement

SIU has achieved the following recognitions and designations.

  • AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) Silver - Received in 2013, 2016, and 2020. More info.
  • Tree Campus Higher Education - Received annually since original designation in 2015. More info.
  • Bicycle Friendly University - This 5-year designation was first received in 2016. SIU earned an improved Silver designation as a Bicycle Friendly University in 2021. More info: 2016, Bronze. More info: 2021, Silver.
  • Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges - Inclusion in the guide in the following years: 2011, 2013-2019. More info.
  • Sierra Magazine Cool Schools - Inclusion in the Sierra Club's "Cool Schools" list in the following years: 2016-2019. More info.
  • Accredited Arboretum - The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Arboretum was formally established as a campus arboretum through ArbNet, a global network for tree-focused arboreta, and has been an Accredited Arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta since 2019. More info.

A timeline of SIU's sustainability-related history is included here:

1959-1971: R. Buckminster Fuller, known as the “father of the modern sustainability movement,” serves as professor at SIU. During his time at SIU, Bucky traveled the world encouraging sustainable values through his philosophies and designs. Today, many people involved in sustainable efforts around the world are aware of Fuller’s work and connect him to SIU.

1999: SIU became the first school in Illinois to sign the Talloires Declaration.Created by presidents of institutions of higher learning, the declaration consisted of 10 foundational actions and signified that SIU was committed to becoming a leader in developing, creating and maintaining sustainability

2007: SIU further commits to sustainability!

  • The signing of the Illinois Sustainable University Compact took place, committing SIU Carbondale to nine sustainability goals by 2010, which Plant and Service Operations led the work on accomplishing.
  • Project Eco Dawgs was launched by students and staff to help establish a ‘Green Fee’.
  • RecycleMania begins! Since 2007, SIU has promoted recycling on campus.  

2008: Project Eco-Dawgs report completed.

2009: The student enacted Green Fee is unanimously passed!

  • The Green Fee was overwhelmingly approved by 73% of students who voted in a campus wide referendum.
  • The SIU Board of Trustees unanimously passed the $10 per semester student Green Fee.
  • Chancellor Sam Goldman appointed the first SIU Sustainability Council to make campus-wide recommendations concerning sustainability and allocate revenue generated by the Green Fee.

2011: SIU received national recognition from the Princeton Review for the first time!

2013: SIU receives the STARS Silver rating for the first time.

2015: SIU earns Tree Campus Higher Education designation for the first time!

2016: SIU:

  • Earns Bicycle Friendly University Bronze rating for the first time.
  • Listed and a Sierra Magazine Cool Schools for the first time.
  • Earns second STARS Silver rating.

2019: SIU:

  • Maintains the recognitions above.
  • Earns a STARS Silver rating for the third consecutive time. 
  • Formally establishes campus arboretum through ArbNet and becomes an Accredited Arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta. 

SIU Students

In 2009, Plant and Service Operations (PSO) led the way in putting the SIU campus on the sustainability track through a myriad of energy efficiency and recycling projects. University Housing and the dining staff have also shown remarkable leadership in sustainability over the years. There have been several other department-level sustainability coordination and planning efforts through the Student Center’s Sustainability Committee, Touch of Nature, and the Student Recreation Center’s Green Team.

SIU is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)


  • SIU earns an improved Silver designation as a Bicycle Friendly University through the League of American Cyclists. More info.