Excellence in Innovations for Sustainability

This award recognizes members of the Association of College Unions International who are solving environmental challenges by using innovative and environmentally sustainable practices or creative partnerships. The award is designed to encourage and reward innovation involved in the creation and application of sustainability outcomes, which may include the discovery of new knowledge, a new product or service. The innovation should take the form of a significant and novel sustainability advantage, which has the potential to deliver major benefits to the community, such as educational, environmental, health, industrial, technological, and social benefits.


Any individual, institution, organization, or company that is an ACUI member is eligible to apply for this award. For collaborative initiatives or partnerships, at least half of the applicants (and all institutions) must be ACUI members. Eligible projects must:

  • Have been initiated since the beginning of the previous academic year
  • Be submitted by an applicant who is in good standing with ACUI
  • Be submitted by an applicant who agrees to allow a summary of their accomplishments to be published


The review process includes, but is not limited to, an assessment of the criteria listed below. Due to the wide variety of projects that can be considered, a project does not need to meet each and every criterion.

  • Does the project demonstrate the use of practices that exemplify outstanding creativity or introduce new approaches?
  • Does the applicant clearly demonstrate leadership in the field and practices beyond what is standard?
  • Is the project environmentally sound and/or economically feasible? Does it result in a significant and measurable environmental benefit?
  • Does the stewardship project improve, protect, or make a significant contribution to the sustainable use of natural resources or provide a better quality of life in balance with the natural environment? For example, does a project protect water and/or air quality; reduce green house gases; protect or enhance scenic, historic, or cultural resources; protect sensitive habitats; or help maintain resource-based business?
  • How is the project novel? What new techniques or benefits does it offer?
  • Does the project clearly demonstrate the applicant’s commitment to environmental excellence and leadership in protecting the environment or providing stewardship of natural resources and ecosystems?
  • Does the project lend itself to replication by others performing similar work?

2015 Excellence in Innovations for SustainabilityPrevious Recipients

2015 recipient:
Compost Happens at California State University–Long Beach—turning student suggestions into a comprehensive program that ultimately contributed to a change in culture by educating students, faculty, and staff in the union about what could be composted. At the time of nomination, it had diverted 48,000 pounds of organic material from landfills.

2014 recipient: University of Arkansas South Terrace
2012 recipient: University of Oregon Bike Project
2011 recipient: Pomona College Soltrain Project
2010 recipient: University of Rochester Biodiesel Project
2009 recipient: University of Vermont Dudley H. Davis Center

Nomination information

Please place nominations online by filling out the Excellence in Innovations for Sustainability Award nomination form to include the following information:

  • Name, title, institution, and contact information of the primary contact for each partner in the program
  • Name, title, institution, and contact information of nominator (if different)
  • A summary of the project, addressing:
    • Why it was undertaken
    • What stakeholders were involved and who should be credited with the project
    • Any costs related to the project and any creative financing techniques
    • Why it is innovative
    • Tangible benefits of the project
    • How the project improved the quality, quantity, sustainability or stewardship of natural resources
  • Include photos, maps, diagrams, videos, press clips, letters, etc. that directly support the project

The nomination window for this year’s awards is currently closed, with recipients being presented at the 2016 annual conference. Nominations will be collected again in late 2016.

Selection and presentation

Applications will receive written or electronic notification confirming receipt of the application(s). The ACUI awards committee, appointed annually by the ACUI president, will review the applications in January to select a winner. One winner will be chosen; one physical award will be given to the winning program. The winner will be recognized during the awards ceremony at the annual conference.

Updated Dec. 8, 2015