University of Arizona

The University of Arizona has been committed to sustainability since our beginning in 1885. There was no LEED certification then but our first building, Old Main, which is 120 years old and still in use today, was constructed with local materials and designed for climate control using common-sense principles. In 2015, we are proud to continue this tradition as a signatory of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. The University received a gold star rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for our comprehensive approach and our vision as a living learning laboratory for sustainability.

The UA’s Institute of the Environment, which includes more than 300 faculty members, fosters and facilitates collaborations across the state and around the world to help explain and resolve environmental challenges. Established in 2010, the UA’s Office of Sustainability works to ensure that the UA continues to be a leader in sustainability among its peers, collaborating with partners across the University of Arizona and throughout the community to coordinate environmental sustainability initiatives and communication.

Students passionate about sustainability spearhead organizations such as Compost Cats. A program of Students for Sustainability (SfS), Compost Cats works to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions and increase local food security by diverting food scraps, landscape clipping, zoo waste, and paper from landfills and turning it into a high quality soil amendment for local agriculture and landscaping use. SfS also runs recycling at UA sports events, the UA Community Garden, tabling at Tucson’s Earth Day festivities, and other sustainability initiatives.

Approved by the Board of Regents in 2010, the UA Green Fund allocates up to $400,000 each year to support sustainability-related projects proposed by any member of the UA community, and encourages collaborations between students, faculty, and staff. Notably, grants are also awarded by a committee of ten graduate and undergraduate students, which means the decisions behind this student-funded program are made by students.

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An ancient old-growth redwood forest along California's northern coast. Changes to forestation on the West Coast may have downstream effects on temperatures and precipitation in the Mississippi River Basin. (Halley Hughes)

Planet Forward Sr. Correspondent | University of Arizona
An assortment of crops are seen growing out of lava-rocks in a terraced platform with water flowing through a pipe from one level of the terrace to the next.

Charles Collins' aquaponic garden. Water pours out from one garden bed overflowing with home grown vegetable plants, into another lava-rock filled bed. (Photo courtesy of Charles Collins)

Planet Forward Correspondent | University of Arizona

Moses Thompson walks down the garden beds at Tucson High School. (Photos by Halley Hughes/University of Arizona)

Planet Forward Sr. Correspondent | University of Arizona