Campus sustainability

Be Crimson. Go Green.Cougars take as much pride in the color green—for sustainability—as in the school colors of crimson and gray. It is a value shared by faculty, staff and students alike. Sustainability is part of our campus culture, from stormwater management to recycling.

The WSU Vancouver campus has adopted sound environmental practices in big ways and small. For example, we use paper with 100 percent recycled content. We drive hybrid vehicles and electric carts to get around campus. Even switching from paper towels to hand drying in our restrooms has kept tons of refuse from entering the landfill and reduced its CO2 output significantly.

Here are several ways WSU Vancouver practices sustainability.

Conversion to LED lighting

Nearly all of our new lighting being installed is light emitting diodes (LED), the exception would be where specific requirements of the user preclude that. We are converting existing lighting to LED and reaping the benefits of lower energy costs plus receiving the financial incentives from local utilities to stretch our investment dollars even further.

Automated Control Systems

We conserve water and energy by controlling their use only for the specific times when needed. Our automated control systems include irrigation water management and metering, automated building controls for HVAC and lighting, and variable frequency control systems for large electrical loads. We are also implementing daylight harvesting in some areas to turn off lights when measured exterior solar gain reduces the need for indoor lighting at the perimeter of the buildings.

LEED Certification

Washington was the first state to enact legislation mandating that state buildings achieve at least Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) ratings by the U.S. Green Building Council. The two campus buildings constructed since then—the Undergraduate Classroom building and the Engineering and Computer Science building—are certified LEED gold. We apply LEED principles across campus, even in buildings that preceded the adoption of LEED certification.

The Life Sciences Building (expected completion 2024) is tracking to LEED Gold.

Read more about LEED certification.


The campus regularly recycles mixed comingled items (plastic, paper, aluminum), cardboard, fluorescent light bulbs, oil and lubricants, and batteries. Receptacles for recycling plastic bottles and cans are placed throughout campus. Ink cartridges should be returned to point of purchase for recycling. Document destruction bins for document shredding are available by request. Shredded paper from department-owned shredders should be bagged and disposed of as trash—it is not accepted by our recycling vendor. When appropriate, surplus equipment is sent to Washington State surplus sales for reuse by others. Facilities Services works closely with local recycling companies to increase the quantities of materials recycled, lower costs and reduce our carbon footprint.

Stormwater Management

The Stormwater Management Program strives to reduce discharges of non-point source pollutants to stormwater to the maximum extent practicable and protect its water quality through permit-specified Best Management Practices. Our infrastructure practices include ponds, swales, riparian zones and wetland areas.

The campus has been certified Salmon-Safe by meeting rigorous conservation requirements. These included committing to further streamside restoration along Mill Creek to provide bank stability, shade and cover; phasing out landscape chemicals harmful to the watershed; additional water conservation; further reducing stormwater runoff from parking lots and buildings; and incorporating salmon-friendly design in future campus development. Our campus was the first urban site to achieve sustainability endorsement, according to USA Today.

Vehicle and Tool Energy Sources

Facilities Services seeks to use energy sources with these priorities for vehicles and portable (non-corded) tools for the following reasons:

  1. Rechargeable batteries—battery-powered golf carts and hand tools
    1. Quiet operation
    2. Zero emissions on campus
  2. Diesel powered—trucks, mowers and utility vehicles
    1. Power and range
    2. Efficiency—diesel contains 18% more BTUs per gallon than gasoline
    3. Safer fuel handling than gasoline
  3. Gasoline powered
    1. Power and range
    2. Availability and cost effectiveness

Academic Sustainability

As a university, we are committed to teaching and learning about sustainability as well. Read about our library holdings and course offerings.