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CHAMPAIGN — The University of Illinois was selected for the ninth annual Climate Leadership Award from the Boston-based nonprofit Second Nature, in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council.

One four-year university and one two-year college are chosen annually for the award, which recognizes innovation and leadership in climate action. To be eligible, schools must sign the Presidents' Climate Leadership Commitments.

The UI signed the carbon commitment in 2008, and the award is "welcome recognition of the progress we've made in the last decade," Chancellor Robert Jones said in release.

The awards are based on advances in climate innovation, collaboration and student preparedness. The UI was cited for:

— The breadth of its sustainability, energy and environmental research.

— Efforts to make the campus and its buildings more sustainable, including a solar farm, purchase of renewable energy, conservation efforts and a framework developed in the Illinois Climate Action Plan to reach carbon neutrality no later than 2050.

— Courses in sustainability across campus, with participation from almost every college and the majority of academic units.

— Initiatives to change behavior and engage students, including the Certified Green Office and Laboratory Programs, zero-waste athletic events, and student organizations and events dedicated to sustainability.

The campus community is committed to "doing whatever it takes to make the University of Illinois a worldwide leader in sustainability," said Evan DeLucia, director of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment. "We can be proud of this achievement; it shows we are making a difference, and it should embolden us to continue doing so."

DeLucia will accept the UI's award at the 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit on Feb. 10-12 in Tempe, Ariz.


Julie Wurth is a reporter covering the University of Illinois at The News-Gazette. Her email is, and you can follow her on Twitter (@jawurth).