Sustainability Initiatives

Sustainability Initiatives


According to the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) website, “LEED certified buildings save money and resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants, while promoting renewable, clean energy.” The UIS Student Union is proud to have achieved LEED Gold Certification.

LEED Information

The US Green Building Council began the LEED program (Leadership in Energy
& Environmental Design) to encourage, recognize, and standardize what it means to be a “green facility.” Through a series of 4 rankings, LEED certifies buildings in this sustainability-friendly manner. LEED Gold is the second highest ranking, after LEED Platinum.

LEED Choices in the UIS Student Union

To achieve LEED Gold Certification, the University had to make a number of choices. Building materials and furniture had to come from within a certain radius of Springfield, building design had to reduce materials used in the project, and other items such as efficient hand dryers, water bottle filling stations, and more help us achieve this rating.

Energy Conservation:

Energy conservation is the decision and practice of using less energy. For example, turning off the light when leaving a room, unplugging appliances when not in use, or walking instead of driving are all ways an individual can conserve energy. The UIS Student Union works to conserve energy by:

Daylighting – the use of windows and skylights to bring sunlight into the building reduces the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours without causing heating or cooling problems.

Energy Efficient Lighting – with a high quality energy efficient lighting system that utilizes both natural and electric sources along with lighting controls, the UIS Student Union is able to conserve energy. This energy efficient lighting equipment is able to cut lighting operational costs 30-60%, all while enhancing light quality, reducing environmental impacts, and promoting health and work productivity.

Green Roof – a layer of plant material on the roof of the building absorbs rainwater, slowly releasing it through evaporation and plant use. Green roofs help reduce building energy usage and noise levels while increasing the durability and lifespan of the roof compared to conventional ones.

Waste Reduction & Recycling:

Good waste reduction and recycling practices not only save money through reduced purchasing and waste disposal costs, but also influence the future and environmental impacts. Consumers have a responsibility to conserve our natural resources and reduce the amount of waste we dispose of, as well as recycling what is possible. The UIS Student Union works to maintain positive waste reduction and recycling practices with:

Single-Stream Recycling – a system in which all paper fibers, plastics, metals, and other containers are mixed in a collection truck, instead of being sorted by the recycler into separate bins and handled separately throughout the collection process. Both the collection and processing systems are designed to handle this fully commingled mixture of recyclables, with materials being separated for reuse at a materials recovery facility. This makes recycling more user-friendly and accessible, as the recycler does not have to sort their waste themselves.

Reusable Food Containers – plastic to-go containers can be purchased at the cashiers’ station in the UIS Student Union Food Studio for $5 with an i-Card,
debit/credit card, or cash. Once purchased and used, a dirty clamshell can be exchanged for a clean one during the Food Studio business hours, and the dirty one will be washed and returned to the stack. The use of these containers cuts back on the waste produced by disposable containers, as well as encourages students to use sustainable practices in their daily lives.

Flyer Free Building – the UIS Student Union is the only building on campus that does not allow student organizations or groups to use paper flyers to promote their events or activities, but instead encourages digital media and banners to be used for these purposes. This reduces the waste produced by paper flyers that would otherwise be left all over the building and ultimately thrown away, and also encourages students to limit their own use of paper where it is possible.

Water Conservation:

Water conservation includes all of the policies, strategies, and activities to sustainably manage fresh water as a natural resource, to protect the hydrosphere, and to meet the current and future human demand. The UIS Student Union strives to conserve water by utilizing:

Rainwater Harvesting/Catchment System – the roof of the UIS Student Union slopes in such a way that rainwater runs off and is collected in a pond area in front of the building, which is harvested and saved for use during dry periods.

Water Bottle Filling Stations – each water fountain in the Student Union is
equipped with a water bottle filling station that can be used to refill reusable bottles. This is not only much cheaper than constantly buying plastic water bottles, but also is a much more sustainable option than plastic bottles.


The UIS Student Union implements many sustainability initiatives as a part of its commitment to being as environmentally conscious and friendly as possible, but an integral part of this process is your individual involvement. This means that students, faculty, and community members must have access to education and information regarding these sustainable goals. Events focused on sustainability are often held on campus, and the UIS Student Union works to promote these and boost engagement. In addition to these events and initiatives, we are happy to answer any questions you may have about sustainable practices at the Union, as well as hear any suggestions for improvements.