About Sustainability

As we move into the future, sustainability continues to serve as a focal point beyond our efforts to ‘live our motto,’ in the service of our city, state, and world, and our mission to prepare graduates to pursue lives of achievement, contribution and meaning. Sustainability is also integral to the university’s strategic objectives as we seek, in a global context, authentic engagement with our immediate surroundings, knowing that the choices we make here and now could have current or future implications for others, both nearby and on the other side of the planet.

Across all schools and in our co-curricular offerings, we seek to foster meaningful educational experiences that address the defining challenges of the 21st century, including sustainability, which Willamette defines through the “Four E’s”:

Teaching Sustainability Literacy

Willamette offered one of the West’s first environmental science programs (1973), and more recently faculty have incorporated sustainability into courses in almost every discipline, from the arts and humanities to the sciences. The College of Law offers an innovative Certificate Program in Sustainable Environmental, Energy and Resources Law.

Creating a Smaller Ecological Footprint

U.S. Green Building Council LEED standards have guided campus construction and renovation projects for over a decade. We are an institutional member of the Climate Leadership Network and have implemented energy management systems and energy efficiency projects that have helped us cutting energy consumption significantly.

We offer a range of transportation options and subsidies, including subsidized bus passes, car sharing, rideshare programs, a free bike registration and lock program, and a campus Bike Shop, staffed by student volunteers, offers free bike loans.

Praised as one of the most beautiful “urban walks” in the state, the Willamette grounds are even greener than they look. One of the few certified organic campuses in the U.S., lawns are fertilized with compost tea, native plants reduce the need for water and chemicals, most weeds are hand-pulled rather than sprayed, and leftover garden debris provides compost for community gardens.

The Willamette food service, Bon Appetit, partners with local farms, ranches and fisheries to offer organic, hormone-free, sustainably produced food. Students even volunteer with spring planting projects at local farms to better understand how our food is produced. Menus feature in-season and locally produced food to reduce transportation costs and pollution. Cooking oil is recycled, food leftovers are given to local ranchers, and disposable tableware is made from sugarcane or recycled paper.

Ties that Bind

The first institution established in the West, Willamette's approach to sustainability integrates ecological sustainability with equity and social justice. We believe communities are truly sustainable only when they are based on the foundation of social justice.

That’s why students spend 65,000 hours each year volunteering here and around the world. Volunteering is not a graduation requirement, but a thoughtful choice, one that is integral to the Willamette educational experience. The humanitarian outlook continues after graduation. Willamette consistently ranks in the top 20 small schools in the country for number of alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers, and in 2012, it received a Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction standing from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Greenbacks Go Green

Budgets are usually the first consideration when institutions are making environmental decisions, but Willamette has implemented a policy that runs against the common institutional grain: Purchases are based on durability and environmental friendliness, not the lowest bid.

Facilities and grounds administrators believe we have a responsibility to balance economic and environmental sustainability, to consider the true cost of our actions. They also believe that sustainability has paid off. A computerized energy management system saved the campus $470,000 in its first five years alone.