Research & Education

graduating students

31 graduating seniors from 15 different departments were awarded Certificates in Environmental Studies in spring 2017 . (Photo by PEI Staff)

Princeton is uniquely positioned to advance teaching and research related to sustainability on campus, in the local community and across the nation. Teaching and research — including initiatives that engage the campus as a laboratory for new ideas — will reap exponential environmental benefits. By engaging students in sustainability research and other environmental initiatives, the University aims to prepare them for lives of leadership and active civic engagement in a time when such commitment is critical to achieving a sustainable future. 


Cultivate leaders among students and engage researchers from multiple disciplines to advance global sustainability, using the campus as a living laboratory.


  • rammed earth

    Sigrid Adriaenssens, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, is leading a study to explore how rammed earth made from local soil can function as a sustainable building material in New Jersey’s humid climate by using a rammed earth wall constructed at the Forbes Garden. 

  • graduating students

    Thirty-one graduating seniors from 15 departments were awarded certificates in environmental studies in spring 2017.

  • In 2014, the Dean for Research Innovation Fund for the Campus as a Lab was launched to catalyze campus-based research exploring sustainability, energy and the environment. Learn about the latest projects

  • class at solar field

    In 2017, 21.48 percent of graduating seniors representing at least 25 disciplines engaged academically in environmental studies and sustainability during their four years at Princeton.

  • students in a stream collecting research

    Since 2011 the Office of Sustainability has maintained a web resource listing potential technology and behavior-based research ideas utilizing the campus as a living laboratory, and continues to develop partnerships with academic departments to advance these efforts.

  • solar picnic table

    Since 2008, the High Meadows Foundation Sustainability Fund has awarded support for 14 faculty research projects, 3 senior thesis projects, and 71 campus-based initiatives from students or staff such as the Garden Project at Forbes College.

  • During the 2016-2017 academic year, 82 undergraduates from 15 majors held environmentally-focused internships with Princeton faculty and external organizations, including assignments in 10 countries around the globe.

  • Nearly 118 courses have been offered since 2012 that either focused on or incorporated sustainability. New sustainability-related courses offered in 2015-16 included two student-initiated seminars: "Investigating an Ethical Approach to Sustainability at Princeton," and "Science, Society & Dinner."

  • STARS Silver Award

    The AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) allows metric-driven progress assessment across operations and academics for North American higher education and has recognized Princeton at the Silver leadership level

What’s Next

  • Advance support for sustainability-related research fellowships, course-related fieldwork, internships and undergraduate research through various departments.

  • Continue to define the role of sustainability in the existing University curriculum, both graduate and undergraduate, and explore how to develop a more cohesive curriculum around the environment and sustainability.

  • Continue to develop support for faculty interested in using the campus as a laboratory and assure a venue for faculty and students to present their research and initiatives.