Princeton Named Top-performing School for Water

Written by
Frances Hannan, Facilities
Oct. 30, 2023

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) named Princeton the top-performing school for Water in their 2023 Sustainable Campus Index. The annual report “highlights the most sustainable colleges and universities.” Using their Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), AASHE looks across 17 impact areas to recognize institutions’ efforts towards global sustainability.   

Princeton received a best-in-class score (100%+++) for its leadership and achievement in water conservation and reuse, stormwater management, protection of local bodies of water and groundwater resources, and more. This is the second year in a row that Princeton has taken the top honors for water.  

The Sustainability Action Plan outlines action items for Princeton’s water conservation and for enhanced stormwater management. The target is to reduce annual campus water usage by 26 percent and increase the acreage under stormwater management to 222 acres by 2046.  

Reductions in water usage have been made through conservation at the cogeneration plant, implementing tray-free dining in all dining halls, athletic and landscape management practices, rainwater and condensate harvesting and reuse, and installing low-flow plumbing fixtures, high-efficiency washing machines and dishwashers. As of 2021, campus water usage has decreased 15 percent compared to a baseline year of 2005, despite growth in the campus population and built space, which requires more water for heating and cooling. 

For stormwater management, more than 30 stormwater projects — ranging from porous pavement and bioretention to green roofs and rain gardens — have been implemented across 100 acres of the campus in the Municipality of Princeton and 85 acres in the Township of West Windsor. To date, these strategies have contributed to reducing annual runoff by approximately 23 million gallons (35 percent), while improving the quality of remaining runoff. 

The top scores Princeton received in 2023 and 2022 came from performance in Academic Year 2019-2020 and projects dating back to 2006. Here is the 2023 Sustainable Campus Index and the latest STARS Assessment.