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UK Celebrates Campus Sustainability Month

By Meg Mills

UK Has been recognized as a Tree Campus USA each year since 2012.

"This is a very exciting time to be involved with sustainability at the University of Kentucky, and I am inspired by the work being done and opportunities being made possible by students, staff and faculty across our campus." Shane Tedder, UK’s sustainability coordinator, said. 

Nationwide, October is designated as Campus Sustainability Month by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. UK is participating with events and opportunities throughout the month. These remain:

  • October 6-14 is Tree Week 2018, presented by the Urban Forest Initiative and collaborators on campus and in the community, including the TFISE. This week of events is a celebration of Lexington's trees and all the ways they impact our lives, through service events, presentations, library programs, and outdoor events.

  • October 13-20 is UK's annual Water Week, a week of events planned to engage UK's academic and local community in service and activism for the benefit of the waters of the Commonwealth. Water Week is hosted by UK’s Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment's (TFISE) Water Systems Working Group.
  • October 21-27 is National Forest Products Week and the Department of Forestry is leading UK’s participation with several events promoting and celebrating products originating in Kentucky’s forests.

Earlier this month UK Transportation Services offered Walk and Roll Week with events promoting sustainable transportation, and the TFISE supported the 16th Global Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing with events that focused on manufacturing in global economies.

“Protecting the environment, while ensuring thriving communities and balancing economic impacts are the interconnected challenges that the TFISE was founded to address. The events we are supporting this month emphasize community engagement, trees, water and sustainable manufacturing,” said Kelly Pennell, associate professor in the University of Kentucky College of Engineering and acting director of the TFISE.

Following more than a decade of ground work by a dedicated community of faculty, staff and students; sustainability has blossomed at the University of Kentucky and is now represented in a broad set of initiatives, programs and guiding documents.

Initiatives include the recently adopted Sustainability Strategic Plan, which established goals for five key operational areas (materials management, energy, transportation, buildings and grounds, food and dining services) and also includes the university's Emissions Reduction Commitment. Exciting progress is already underway in each of these areas thanks to the leadership and creativity of the respective units involved.

  • UK Recycling, in partnership with UK Athletics and various student groups, has revamped recycling at home football games this season, and Athletics is committed to ensuring recycling opportunities are in place at all athletic events on campus.
  • UK was recently named a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly University, one of only 21 campuses in the country to receive this status. The work of making campus more bicycle friendly, a key component of sustainable transportation, is led by UK Transportation Services.
  • UK’s Utilities and Energy Management group, in partnership with the Medical Center and Main Campus Physical Plants, has aggressively pursued energy conservation and efficiency. This work led to a 24 percent reduction in steam usage (summer 2018 vs summer 2017) and a 6.5 percent reduction in main campus electricity use (2018 vs 2017).
  • UK Dining continues to grow the local impact of their food purchasing. The total Kentucky farm and food business impact was more than $1.75 million for 2017-18. The spend was more than $1.045 million on products with farm impact and more than $707,000 on products with local business impact.
  • Thanks to the work of the UK Grounds Department and their strong partnership with the Urban Forest Initiative, UK has been recognized as a Tree Campus USA each year since 2012.

UK also has two internal funding opportunities available to the campus community to support sustainability-focused initiatives: the Sustainability Challenge Grant Program(deadline to apply is Oct. 15) and the Student Sustainability Council. For more information about sustainability on campus visit

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue