Sustainable Campus

Building a Sustainable Campus

Princeton University's Sustainability Action Plan, first adopted in 2008 and expanded in 2019, challenged and focused Facilities in our sustainability efforts. In collaboration with our Office of Sustainability, Facilities contributes significantly to Princeton's sustainability efforts project by project, year by year. Before we design a building we discuss the Sustainability Charrette to determine specific sustainability goals for the location. We continually balance creating and maintaining a beautiful, comfortable campus with respecting and protecting the environment. To teach our next generation we provide campus as a living lab opportunities for our campus community. 

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Sustainable Technologies

In 2022, Princeton University entered an unprecedented period of construction as 2026 Capital Plan projects began. In managing the campus infrastructure, we also recognized an opportunity to affect positive and significant change by converting from steam to hot water with geo-exchange technology and thermal distribution. The sustainable technologies below feature prominently in our 2026 Capital Plan projects and our Net-Zero by 2046 goal. 


Converting the campus to a district hot water system, with heat supplied by large central heat pumps coupled with geo-exchange, will dramatically reduce campus carbon emissions. This system will be powered by carbon-free electricity.

Healthy Habitat

Recognizing the value of healthy habitats for human well-being and biodiversity, Princeton takes a campus-wide ecosystem approach to landscape management.

High Performance Exteriors

Super-insulated and airtight building envelopes reduce the energy needed to heat and cool spaces year-round.

Layered Land Use

Considering one piece of land as having the potential to be used on three levels -- below ground, ground level, and above structures -- maximizes its efficiency.

Mass Timber

Using mass timber as an alternative to concrete and steel helps to reduce embodied carbon in our built environment.

Passive Design

New campus construction has a reduced carbon footprint thanks to an integrative design process that supports passive design principles, including building orientation, climate control, insulation, and ventilation.

Stormwater Management

Green roofs, porous pavement, and bioretention technologies improve surface water quality and restore the local watershed.

Water Re-Use

To reduce water usage, condensate water from HVAC cooling equipment and rooftop rainwater are collected and used to flush toilets in many buildings.

Maintaining a Sustainable Campus

For a complete list of sustainable elements on our campus please explore the sections below.