Eighty percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from combusting fossil fuels to generate energy, including electricity. We need to do our part toward reducing energy consumption. Achieving this goal will require accelerating the implementation of energy conservation projects, targeting older and less efficient buildings for deep retrofits, and ensuring all new buildings meet the UW Green Building Standard to minimize water and energy consumption. The expanded use of utility metering and monitoring based commissioning will keep buildings operating optimally.

Status updates

Water conservation

UW will monitor opportunities to reduce water consumption for new building construction, maintenance and irrigation. In collaboration with academic units, UW Facilities will explore paths to research the feasibility of enhancing water reduction through the use of new technologies or integration into campus planning.

Target actions for 2024

View actions for past fiscal years

Sustainability plan guiding principles

  •  Ensure students achieve sustainability literacy
  •  Choose our research conscientiously
  •  Keep equity and inclusion at the center
  •  Use resources responsibly
  •  Decarbonize

The UW has increased the amount of money allocated for energy efficiency work at the Seattle campus starting in FY23, and will continue to work on energy conservation projects identified as having the most impact and return on investment. The energy conservation work includes updating HVAC and other infrastructure in buildings across the Seattle campus, namely: installing additional energy meters and digital controls, upgrading existing control systems, and analyzing energy data to better identify and track energy conservation opportunities.  The State of Washington’s Climate Commitment Act has been identified as a new source of funding for on-going energy conservation work across UW. 

UW Tacoma is also working to upgrade some campus control systems, and will be upgrading the Joy Building to LED lights, including motion and daylight sensors.

The UW selected a new beverage partner in 2023, signing a contract with Pepsi after the expiration of the previous 10-year contract with Coca-Cola. This new beverage contact also provided an opportunity to upgrade vending machines on campus. Working with Pepsi, Housing & Food Services is overseeing installation of 177 new vending machines, replacing older machines that consumed more electricity than newer machines. These new machines have greatly reduced energy consumption and comply with updated industry standards for refrigeration.

A committee of staff and faculty from a variety of departments and disciplines has been working on crafting updated Green Building Standard for the UW. These standards will set out specific requirements for construction projects at the UW that look at energy, water and embodied carbon. Whereas the current standard only addresses new construction, the updated standard will include a variety of project types, including new construction and major renovations, minor renovations and partial fit-outs, and HVAC system replacements. 

The draft standard is expected to be complete in late Fall 2023, with a goal to get UW Facilities leadership approval to incorporate it in the Facilities Design Standard in the spring of 2024. UW Sustainability, in partnership with other units in Facilities, will provide education and training across the university to help ensure successful implementation.