30 sustainability project ideas for a green university

You want to work towards a green university, but don’t know what sustainability projects you could do? Then get your creative juices flowing by reading our list of 30 sustainability project ideas. These sustainability project ideas can be realised by student groups, sustainability coordinators, offices and teams.


The concept of a green university is different from a sustainable university. The idea of a green university explicitly focuses on improving the impact that buildings and the campus have on the environment. To create a green university, you need to run projects on:

  • Organic food
  • Renewable energy
  • Gardening, landscape and biodiversity
  • Low-carbon transport
  • Clean water
  • Recycling

Organic food

Industrial agriculture harms animals and nature through the use of pesticides, artificial fertilisers and genetically modified crops. You can make a difference, by promoting sustainable food options:

  • Get a Fair-Trade certification for your university
  • Work with local farmers to allow students and staff to buy bags with organic, local and sustainable food every week
  • Work with the caterer to introduce more vegetarian, organic, local, fair-trade and vegan meals and drinks
  • Allow students to serve meals themselves, e.g. through buffet style dining options, to reduce food waste
  • Donate left-over food from dining halls
Students distributing organic food

Students distributing organic food

Renewable energy

The burning of fossil fuels pollutes the air and contributes to global warming. Time to get rid of this ancient energy source, and use energy more efficiently:

  • Install solar cells on the university’s rooftops
  • Optimise the ventilation, air-conditioning and heating of building management systems
  • Reduce the brightness of computer screens
  • Install automatic movement sensors to switch off lights in buildings
  • Turn PCs off or into stand-by mode when idle
Students visiting a new, more energy efficient building

Students visiting a new, more energy efficient building

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Gardening, landscape and biodiversity

Time to get outdoors, enjoy some fresh air, and create something practical with your hands:

  • Build a campus garden with herbs and an insect hotel
  • Maintain a flower meadow
  • Introduce non-toxic cleaning products
  • Engage students and staff to plant a tiny forest close to the university
  • Construct green roofs and rooftop gardens to literally have a green university
Students doing urban gardening for a green university

Students doing urban gardening for a green university

Transport sustainability projects

Our vision is that universities help young people to become global citizens for sustainable development. This involves a lot of travelling. Some ideas to promote sustainable transport among students and staff:

  • Distribute free or subsidized public transit passes to students and staff
  • Install video conferencing software and train staff to use it
  • Rent out a cargo bike to students for free and subsidise bicycles for employees
  • Create a mobility policy, which makes it mandatory to compensate any flight-related greenhouse gas emissions
  • Introduce electric cars to the fleet of the university and provide recharging stations
A student transport bike is a good sustainability project idea

A student transport bike is a good sustainability project idea

Clean water

Water is a beautiful resource that gives birth to life on this planet. What a shame to waste it!

  • Store rainwater from rooftops in tanks
  • Install water saving devices in toilets and tabs
  • Replace bottled water coolers with tap water coolers
  • A good sustainability project idea is to use rainwater to flush toilets
  • Install water refill stations
Free water taps allows students to refill water bottles

Free water taps allows students to refill water bottles

Recycling-related sustainability project ideas

Our current economic model takes natural resources as inputs and creates waste as outputs. A circular economy aims to eliminate the idea of waste. Here is how you can help to promote recycling at your university:

  • Set-up recycling stations for mobile phones, pens, markers and highlighters throughout the campus
  • Introduce double-sided printing to reduce paper waste
  • Implement an e-waste policy to properly recycle electronic waste
  • Donate old but still functioning electronic devices to charity
  • Promote the purchase of second hand furniture for university offices

Tip: Read our university recycling blogpost to learn more.

Many universities run sustainability projects about recycling

Many universities run sustainability projects about recycling

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