Excellence in Innovations for Sustainability

This award recognizes members of the Association of College Unions International who are solving environmental challenges by using innovative and environmentally sustainable practices or creative partnerships. The award is designed to encourage and reward innovation involved in the creation and application of sustainability outcomes, which may include the discovery of new knowledge, a new product, or service. The innovation should take the form of a significant and novel sustainability advantage, which has the potential to deliver major benefits to the community, such as educational, environmental, health, industrial, technological, and social benefits.


Any individual, institution, organization, or company that is an ACUI member is eligible to apply for this award. For collaborative initiatives or partnerships, at least half of the applicants (and all institutions) must be ACUI members. Eligible projects must:

  • Have been initiated since the beginning of the previous academic year
  • Be submitted by an applicant who is in good standing with ACUI
  • Be submitted by an applicant who agrees to allow a summary of their accomplishments to be published


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 each and every criterion.

  • Does the project demonstrate the use of practices that exemplify outstanding creativity or introduce new approaches?
  • Does the applicant clearly demonstrate leadership in the field of student unions and student activities and practices beyond what is standard?
  • Is the project environmentally sound; does it result in a significant and measurable environmental benefit?
  • Is the project environmentally economically feasible?
  • Does the stewardship project improve, protect, or make a significant contribution to the sustainable use of natural resources or provide a better quality of life in balance with the natural environment? 
  • Does the program lend itself to replication on other campuses?

Previous Recipients

2016 recipient:
University Student Commons & Activities Green Strategies at Virginia Commonwealth University: addressed energy usage rates and developed a guide for campus meeting planners to help make their events as green as possible–a guide that earned them a "Virginia Green" seal.   

2015 recipient: California State University–Long Beach Compost Happens
2014 recipient: University of Arkansas South Terrace
2012 recipient: University of Oregon Bike Project
2011 recipient: Pomona College Soltrain Project
2010 recipient: University of Rochester Biodiesel Project

Nomination information

Please place nominations online by filling out the Excellence in Innovations for Sustainability Award nomination form to include the following information:

  • Name, title, institution, and contact information of the primary contact for each partner in the program
  • Name, title, institution, and contact information of nominator (if different)
  • A two-page summary of the project, addressing: 
    • Why it was undertaken
    • What stakeholders were involved and who should be credited with the project
    • Any costs related to the project and any creative financing techniques
    • Why it is innovative
    • Tangible benefits of the project
    • How the project improved the quality, quantity, sustainability or stewardship of natural resources
  • Include photos, maps, diagrams, videos, press clips, letters, etc. that directly support the project

This year's nomination deadline has closed for this award, which will be presented at the 2017 annual conference.

Selection and presentation

Applications will receive written or electronic notification confirming receipt of the application(s). The ACUI awards committee, appointed annually by the ACUI president, will review the applications in January to select a winner. One winner will be chosen; one physical award will be given to the winning program. The winner will be recognized during the awards ceremony at the annual conference.

Updated Jan. 7, 2017