Indiana State University Newsroom

Two sustainability groups honor Indiana State

October 8, 2014

Two national honors in one week are the latest set of accolades for Indiana State University's already acclaimed Institute for Community Sustainability.

The Sierra Club recently announced Indiana State was among its top 100 "Cool Schools," ranking Sycamores high for their co-curricular education, administration and planning, waste reduction and water conservation.

Just days earlier, the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education included Indiana State on its list of 105 sustainable campuses, thanks in large part to the campus' robust culture of community service.

These awards were a long time in the making, according to Caroline Savage, interim director of the institute.

"There was already a lot of momentum on campus for sustainability before we came on the scene in 2012, and having a dedicated sustainability presence in the form of ICS on campus tied together some of the things that were already going on. We now have an interdisciplinary body who can structure meetings and bring different people to the table and make something happen," Savage said. "Two years later, we have six national awards. Awards aren't the be-all, end-all, but I think they're an indicator of how much progress we can make in a short amount of time."

Aside from the campus pride these awards help boost, the designations are also important for student recruitment efforts.

"I'm really proud that we can be a part of something that's building distinction for Indiana State," Savage said.

The Princeton Review -- which selected Indiana State as one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada two years in a row -- has continued to find that students are looking for sustainable campuses. In fact, among the more than 10,000 college applicants who participated in a 2014 survey, 61 percent said having information about a school's commitment to the environment influences their decision to apply to or attend the school.

Students' interest in sustainability training and practices could be driven by the job market. A study by Arizona State University concluded 65 percent of small businesses and 87 percent of large businesses look favorably on candidates with sustainability training.

This fall, Indiana State started offering a new academic minor -- revised from the conservation minor -- to satisfy both students' and businesses' growing interest in sustainability training. The institute is also working with the university's Career Center to develop a certification program.

"The fact that we're helping put Indiana State on the map, it just makes the work we do really meaningful," Savage said.

Other campus sustainability efforts include having a climate action plan, a wind turbine, an award-winning Recycle Center, leading research solutions for economic sustainability and advocating for social justice.

"You're starting to see people associate sustainability with what it means to be a Sycamore. We recycle, because that's what we do here on campus," Savage said. "We have this wind turbine, because we're innovative and want to seek out energy sources that are not only good for campus but also the community -- to become that living, learning laboratory that we strive to be."

As a future initiative, Savage would like to see better electric-metering technology (or sub-meters, as they're known) for buildings, so the campus can be even more energy conscious. She also envisions a scenario where students perform campus energy audits.

"Currently, you can find out how much power one quad is using, but it's really difficult, to impossible, right now to find out if one floor is leaving the lights on all the time and we need to have an intervention with Floor 14," Savage said. "It's kind of like low-hanging fruit. If we can monitor it, we can fix it."

The Institute for Community Sustainability is an Unbounded Possibilities initiative.


Photos: -- Institute for Community Sustainability employees gather with attendees of the Mid-America Prosperity Conference on the back porch of the institute's office on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. - Renowned urban farmer Will Allen delivers the keynote address at the Mid-America Prosperity Conference on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. Allen, a retired professional basketball player, and his company, Growing Power, have been chronicled by most major news outlets, including Time Magazine, who selected him as one of the 100 most influential people. -- A wind turbine is seen on Indiana State University's campus. -- An aerial view of the Institute for Community Sustainability's community garden is seen.

Contact: Caroline Savage, interim executive director of the Institute for Community Sustainability at Indiana State, 812-232-8502 or

Writer: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or