Sustainability & Climate Action

A group of people in the woods.

Committed to Sustainability

Seattle University’s commitment to the Earth and its people is grounded in Jesuit values—focusing on environmental justice and recognized within the university’s apostolic mission.

A Green Vision

Since establishing the Climate Action Plan in 2010, Seattle U continues its work toward achieving its goals of demonstrating leadership in sustainable practices and environmental justice across campus through academics, co-curricular programs and university operations as a whole through collective efforts.

A park with trees and buildings in the background.

Top 10 in Nation for Sustainability

Seattle University is one of the Top 10 most-sustainable colleges or universities in the nation according to the latest Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) report, achieving a “Gold” rating. STARS is a program of AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

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Gold Rating

SU earns highest score in its history in latest Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System.

A city with boats in water.

Fully Divested from Fossil Fuels

Seattle University scrubbed its endowment portfolio of fossil fuel investments as of June 30, 2023. 


100% Divested

SU is the first university in Washington state and first Jesuit Catholic university in the country to fulfill this commitment of divestment.

Sustainability in Action

Students pouring food waste into the compact track load.

Campus Waste Diversion

Seattle U ranked first among medium-sized colleges & universities & second among all institutions in waste diversion as part of the 2024 Campus Waste to Zero Waste—a friendly competition & benchmarking tool for campus recycling programs.

Exterior of Alumni and Admissions Building with a figure walking by quickly.

LEED Gold Certified Buildings

There are five LEED Gold buildings on campus. All new buildings at Seattle University are designed to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards—the most widely used green building rating system.

fall campus scenes

Reduction of Green House Gases

Seattle University has committed to work toward carbon neutrality or zero Greenhouse Gas emissions. From the baseline year 2009, Seattle U’s initial Climate Action Plan was to reduce emissions by at least 12% by 2020 & by at least 51% by 2035.

Facilitate Change

Ultimately, the goal of sustainability is to “develop a community within the carrying capacity of the Earth, to balance the social, environmental and economic needs of our society,” says Yolanda Cieters, sustainability manager of Seattle University’s Center for Environmental Justice & Sustainability.

“Only a socially just society is able to safeguard natural resources and cope with the various consequences of climate change” –Yolanda Cieters

Being mindful of global climate change, “I also believe that all professions, even (and perhaps especially) those that don’t directly relate to environmental problems, need to develop new approaches that facilitate sustainable change,” says Dr. Wes Lauer, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, director of Environmental Science and co-chair of the President’s Committee for Sustainability.

“This is why what we do inside the university to address sustainability can be so impactful—the campus can be a laboratory for implementing policies that are broadly relevant for society at large.” 

Center for Environmental Justice & Sustainability

Inspiring care for our communities through the research and practice of social, economic and environmental sustainability.

A view of a park with trees and people.