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Our Legacy of Sustainability
Northern Arizona University has long been recognized for its commitment to sustainability. NAU is nestled at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, named Dook’o’oosłííd by the Diné, and surrounded by one of the largest ponderosa pine forests on Earth. This placement encourages the study of the environment and the complex interactions between humans and nature.
In 1973, NAU became one of the nation’s first universities to add an environmental studies degree to the curriculum; now more than two-thirds of the university’s academic departments offer sustainability courses and we have a wide variety of academic programs with a sustainability focus.
- In the Earth Day 2022 newsletter, NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera declared a climate emergency. Our engaged community understands that when it comes to advancing climate solutions with regional applications and global reach, NAU must lead the way. The whole announcement can be read here.
- Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) was founded in 1992 to provide training and education programs in management of tribal environmental resources. In 2019 ITEP received a $3.2 million grant from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to help tribal communities predict how climate change can impact their environment, resources, and health—and plan how to adapt.
- In 2007 NAU was a charter signatory for Second Nature’s American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (AUCUPCC), committing to reducing the university’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- After signing AUCUPCC, NAU pledged that all new construction would be at least LEED Silver certified. NAU currently has 15 LEED certified buildings.
- In 2008 the Office of Sustainability was created, providing a home base for NAU’s sustainability activities. The Environmental Caucus—a volunteer group tasked with promoting sustainability on campus—also began in 2008.
- NAU initiated the Green Fund in 2010. The Green Fund is supported by a per-semester fee approved by students. The Green Fund has now funded 80 projects with $2+ million allocated for sustainability projects across campus to date.
- In 2010 NAU initiated its first Climate Action Plan: Carbon Neutrality. Since then, the Office of Sustainability has renewed its commitment through its action plans for 2015 and 2020.
- In 2012 NAU received the Gold award as a Bicycle Friendly University (BFU℠). The League of American Bicyclist’s BFU℠ program recognizes institutions of higher education for promoting and providing a more bikeable campus for students, staff, and visitors.
Meet the team
Learn more about the people behind NAU’s sustainability efforts.