The Excellence in Innovations in Sustainability award recognizes campuses that solve environmental challenges through innovative and sustainable practices or creative partnerships. The award is designed to encourage and reward a campus on the leading edge of facilities trends through its production and application of sustainability outcomes.

2021 Recipient
The 2021 Excellence in Innovations in Sustainability recipient is Cohesive Culture of Sustainability at the University of Houston. The Student Centers at the University of Houston incorporated three actions in their role in raising awareness and fostering a better understanding of the interconnectedness of the term “sustainability.” Recycled materials were used to incorporate artwork within their facility that shared sustainability facts about the Student Centers. A partnership with an existing film series that engaged students in discussions about societal issues resulted in a highlight of films with sustainability as a component. Finally, utilizing Sustainability Lunch and Learns offered education on different sustainability topics and provide a healthy, well-balanced meal.
Past Recipients
  • 2020: Borderlands Produce Rescue – Arizona State University
  • 2019: Give + Go Green – Temple University
  • 2018: Eco Social Justice – Portland Community College
  • 2017: The Recirculating Farms Club Aquaponics Exhibit – North Carolina State University
  • 2016: USC&A Green Strategies – Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 2015: Compost Happens – California State University–Long Beach 
  • 2014: South Terrace – University of Arkansas
  • 2012: Bike Project – University of Oregon
  • 2011: Soltrain Project – Pomona College
  • 2010: Biodiesel Project – University of Rochester
  • 2009: Dudley H. Davis Center – University of Vermont
  • 2008: De-construction of the Ohio Union – The Ohio State University


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 every criterion. The program must:

  • Demonstrate the use of practices that exemplify outstanding creativity or introduce new approaches beyond what is standard.
  • Be environmentally and economically feasible.
  • Improve, protect, or make a contribution to the sustainable use of natural resources or provides a better quality of life in balance with the natural environment.


All ACUI member institutions are eligible to apply for this award. For collaborative initiatives or partnerships, all institutions must be ACUI members. Eligible programs must:

  • Have taken place since the beginning of the previous academic year.
  • Serve as a model to other campuses for replication.
  • Achieve its stated program outcomes and objectives, with evaluation tools in place.
  • Agree to allow a summary of their accomplishments to be published.


Submission materials must include the following:

  1. Name, institution, and contact information of the primary contact for the program.
  2. Title of the program.
  3. A summary, up to two pages, of the program, addressing:
    • Description of the program, including goals and intended outcomes.
    • Description and inclusion of the evaluation methods in place for the program, including brief rationale for choosing stated methods.
    • Evidence that the program meets the criteria identified for this specific award.
  4. And one compiled packet of additional supporting documentation for the program, which could include photos, marketing samples, course materials, budget information, testimonials, etc. No page limit exists, but only the first 15 pages will be considered by the review committee.

The application process for this award will open in October 2021.


Electronic notification will be sent to confirm submissions have been received. A confidential Campus Awards Committee, appointed annually by the ACUI president, will review materials to make the selection. One recipient will be chosen, unless otherwise noted for the specific award. One physical award will be given to the recipient, who will be recognized during the awards ceremony at the annual conference and in subsequent publications.