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Campus Programs

A number of nonacademic campus programs promote and provide support for sustainability, including the Office of Sustainability, Outdoor Action and the Pace Center for Civic Engagement. A unifying goal for these programs is to introduce campus community members to the principles of sustainability and opportunities for action and engagement.

Goal, Strategies & Progress

Goal: Promote sustainable practices among University community members through education and by example.

Strategy: Raise sustainability awareness through outreach, events and campus tours.


  • In fall 2010, the Office of Sustainability partnered with several other offices to produce its second biennial Sustainability Open House for the campus and local community. More than 40 campus and community groups staffed interactive displays and demonstrations to showcase their sustainability efforts to an audience of more than 500 participants.
  • As part of the Open House, more than 30 teams from the community and University created art pieces from discarded materials for a Trash Sculpture Contest. The top works provided a visual centerpiece for the occasion and drew many local families to the event.
  • The Office of Sustainability built upon its guided Green Tour launched in 2010 by developing a self-guided tour on the iPrinceton app. During 2011, six guided tours were offered upon request, including during the Ivy Plus Sustainability Committee and "She Roars" conferences. The online tour is currently available on the iPhone, and will soon be accessible on Android and Blackberry platforms.

Strategy: Develop and facilitate a Universitywide "Drink Local" initiative to encourage tap water consumption across campus. 


  • Since 2009, the Office of Sustainability has distributed reusable water bottles free of bisphenol-A (BPA) to incoming freshmen with a "Drink Local" logo and campus map printed on the bottle indicating locations of campus bottle filling stations.
  • More than 60 existing fountains and common room sinks across campus were retrofitted with water bottle filling spouts during the summer of 2011, bringing the campus total to more than 140 stations. 
  • The EcoReps held a successful "Drink Local" event in spring 2011 at Frist Campus Center in which they sold filters and pitchers to Princeton students for $1.

Strategy: Coordinate the awarding of sustainability grants from the High Meadows Foundation. 


  • Since 2008, the Princeton Sustainability Committee, together with the Office of Sustainability, awarded grants to faculty, staff and students for research, education and civic engagement projects from the High Meadows Foundation sustainability fund.
  • Moving forward, the fund will focus primarily on student projects that link campus-based initiatives with academic work including junior paper and senior thesis projects.

Strategy: Develop and facilitate a staff Sustainability Ambassador Program.


  • A pilot Sustainability Ambassador Program was carried out by the Office of Sustainability in partnership with the Facilities Organization to facilitate sustainability awareness and initiatives in the home offices of more than a dozen staff members in 2011. Based on feedback from the pilot year, the Office of Sustainability has established guidelines for campuswide implementation in 2012.

Strategy: Establish research apprenticeships and employment opportunities for students and postgraduates in the Office of Sustainability.


  • The Office of Sustainability has had more than 50 undergraduate coordinators over the past four years involved in projects including: Ecology Representatives (EcoReps); Garden Project; U-Bikes; CycLab bicycle cooperative; Student Environmental Communication Network (SECN); 2011 Sustainability Report; 2010 Sustainability Open House; Sustainability Plan working groups; Sustainability website; and YouTube, Facebook and Twitter pages.
  • A one-year, full-time postgraduate fellowship funded by the High Meadows Foundation sustainability fund was filled in 2010-11 by a recent Princeton graduate interested in developing professional skills in the sustainability field.
  • A new postgraduate fellowship in Energy Master Planning was created for 2011-12, funded by alumni support.

Strategy: Build environmental consciousness among incoming students through the Outdoor Action and Community Action programs.


  • Outdoor Action, the largest outdoor orientation program in the United States, enrolled 796 freshmen (60 percent of the class of 2014) from 40 countries in the pre-orientation program in fall 2010; 229 student trip leaders were trained in sustainability awareness. Trips included biking on back roads along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and the Great Allegheny Passage, canoeing on the Delaware River, backpacking and rock climbing on the Appalachian Trail, sustainable farming on local farms and more.

  • A dozen incoming students participated in sustainability-related volunteer projects in fall 2010 through Community Action, a student-led pre-orientation program for freshmen. Environment-related volunteer sites included the D&R Canal, Honey Brook Organic Farm, Strawberry Hill Farm, Lawrence Nature Center, and the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. Community Action is sponsored by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement.

For the last three years, the Office of Sustainability has distributed reusable water bottles free of bisphenol-A (BPA) to incoming freshmen with a "Drink Local" logo and campus map printed on the bottle indicating locations of campus bottle filling stations.

What's Next

  • Expand campus Green Tour options for visitors and the campus community.
  • Expand the staff Sustainability Ambassador Program into a campuswide endeavor by appointing sustainability leaders in additional administrative departments. 
  • Develop programs with the Office of Human Resources to begin to explore sustainability competencies as a component in performance evaluations and the learning and development curriculum.
  • Continue the "Drink Local" educational campaign across campus by distributing reusable water bottles to incoming freshmen as part of a new "Sustainability Survival Kit" initiative.
  • Create a venue coordinated by the Office of Sustainability and the Princeton Environmental Institute for High Meadows Foundation sustainability fund grant recipients to share their results.


"The Sustainability Open House gave me a great overview of the huge variety of sustainability projects that are taking place all over campus. It was awesome to see that so many students and faculty are focused on sustainability, and I can’t wait to see what’s new at the next one!"
Alexander Creely, Class of 2014



“Entering the Trash Sculpture Contest was a wonderful platform to introduce the importance of caring for the Earth at University League Nursery School. Children 2-1/2 through 4 years old brought in their discarded toys to make their sculpture, 'More than Ducks in a Pond,' which won first prize. The children, teachers and parents had fun learning about sustainability in this creative endeavor!”
—Cynthia Williams, Director, University League Nursery School