Earth Day 2024

Facilities Management is proud to be engaged in many sustainable activities that make our campus and community a better place to live, work, and learn.
In celebration of Earth Day 2024, our Facilities team would like to share a few of our many accomplishments

  • CO2 emissions

    WMU facilities have received their heat energy from a coal-fired plant since 1904, and the last use of coal was in 1999.

    • Annual steam and electric CO2 emissions peaked in 1990 at 150,958 metric tonnes. In 2023, CO2 emissions were 68,245 tonnes resulting in a 55% reduction.

    • 50% of the campus steam needs are created through a heat recovery process using no additional fossil fuel.

  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

    Since 2009, all WMU building projects have been designed to LEED standards.

    • 20 buildings totaling 1,400,692 square feet earned LEED certification.
    • Four buildings totaling 371,800 square feet are pending certification review.
  • Green space

    As the WMU campus build environment is transformed, there is more green space to improve the environment.

    • From 2017 to 2023, the building coverage reduced by 12 acres, pavement reduced by 12 acres, and green space increased by 25 acres.

    Living surfaces - 543 acres

    • 11 acres garden
    • 264 acres mowable turf
    • 170 acres forest
    • 98 acres native areas

    Nature preserves - 319 acres

    • 273 acres at Asylum Lake Preserve
    • 46 acres at Kleinstuck Preserve


  • Solar


    WMU continues to invest in more solar applications to lower our carbon footprint.

    • The first solar garden in SW Michigan, adjacent to the College of Engineering facility, is a 1,000 kW array.
    • The Miller parking lot and Sangren Hall produce renewable solar energy in a 245 kW array.
  • Geothermal

    Heritage Hall and the Zhang Legacy Collection Center use geothermal best practices to heat and cool these buildings with very little fossil fuel.

    • 162 tons of cooling capacity and 2,307,000 BTU heating capacity using geothermal.


  • Electric vehicle (EV) charging

    WMU led the higher education sector in the US by installing 20 EV charging stations across campus in 2012.

    • 20 EV charging stations were upgraded and connected to the national ChargePoint information system in May 2022.
    • 11 additional EV charging stations, serving 21 parking spaces, are expected with the addition of the new parking structure being constructed adjacent to Arcadia Flats, in the spring and summer 2023.
  • Stormwater improvement

    In light of the increasing awareness of water pollution contributed by nonpoint sources and urban stormwater, in particular, WMU has taken a keen interest in reducing the impact of stormwater pollution on water quality over the past two decades. WMU led local efforts to implement urban stormwater controls in the Portage-Arcadia Creek basin.

    • Since 1998, WMU has implemented 30 stormwater control projects utilizing nearly $2M of federal/state grant funding and strategic Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) partnerships to establish controls identified within an EPA-approved Watershed Management Plan.
    • WMU intentionally became the first MS4 in the Kalamazoo River Watershed to document its efforts to reach the 50% total phosphorus (TP) reduction goal for its stormwater footprint of approximately 807 acres. WMU achieved this goal in 2008. WMU is the only regulated MS4 in the State of Michigan (if not the country) to meet and surpass regulatory requirements under the Clean Water Act. Additional work had resulted in WMU being recognized with a ‘net‐zero’ footprint for stormwater pollution (TP) and was considered Stormwater Neutral® in 2013. Two decades of best stormwater management practices are deployed on WMU site renovations and building projects.
    • View the Best Management Practice (BMP) stormwater interactive map, which showcases the efforts WMU has done to manage stormwater throughout campus.
  • Recycling

    WMU is a national leader in sustainability and has a nearly 30-year old recycling program.

    • On average, 16,700 pounds of paper/cardboard and 20,500 pounds of single stream recycling is collected and recycled each month.
  • Aqueous Ozone


    WMU Custodial Services has utilized Stabilized Aqueous Ozone (SAO) technology since 2014 and currently has 51 units in 41 of our academic buildings.

    • The use of Aqueous Ozone has allowed us to reduce our standard chemical usage by more than 60%.
  • Self Watering Planters

    In 2021, Landscape Services potted and placed 66 self-watering planters across campus to help make Western more beautiful and eco-friendly. The project was funded by a Student Sustainability Grant from Western's Office for Sustainability.

    Additional self-watering planters have been added since 2021 and have helped dramatically reduce labor, fuel and maintenance costs for Landscape Services as well as water usage.

  • Sustainable Mowing

    In 2019 WMU invested in an ecofriendly way to maintain campus grasses, thanks to a Student Sustainability Grant. According to the EPA, a walk-behind gas-powered lawn mower emits 88 pounds of carbon and 34 pounds of other pollutants into the environment every year.  This all-electric lawn mower lowers noise pollution and reduces carbon emissions considerably.