From LEDs to Bees: SAIC Achieves Carbon Neutrality and Advances Sustainability Efforts

From LEDs to bees and renewable energy in between, for the past 10 years the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been busy becoming a sustainable and resilient campus. SAIC joined the Second Nature Climate Leadership Commitment in 2008 and in its first 10 years, the School reduced its carbon footprint by 57 percent. As of January 1, 2020, the School achieved carbon neutrality through continued operational changes, renewable energy credits (RECs), and carbon offsets.

Creating a Sustainable Future

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is a forward-thinking community of artists, designers, and educators, many of which complete invaluable work to address urgent environmental challenges. It is the institution’s responsibility to support this work and to exercise leadership in communities and throughout society by modeling ways to minimize emissions that contribute to climate change.

Sustainability Networks

In addition to signing the Second Nature Climate Commitment (formerly known as the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment) and participating as a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, SAIC has implemented numerous measures to reduce its carbon footprint and move toward environmentally preferable practices. Systematic upgrades to building mechanical systems, improved metering and monitoring of building systems and energy efficient lighting upgrades contribute to this commitment. 

SAIC also works with local networks, national organizations and peer institutions to advance sustainability and accelerate climate action. SAIC partners include the Alliance to Retrofit Chicago Higher Education (ARCH)

In the Curriculum

As a school of art and design, SAIC has the responsibility to engage students, faculty and staff by providing them with a supportive environment for sustainability-focused teaching, learning, living, making and research. SAIC supports this mission through the Sustainable SAIC committee, which promotes and facilitates the cooperative efforts of the SAIC community to educate, develop values, share knowledge, adopt policies and implement sustainable practices.

Many students have chosen to design curricular pathways that allow a broad exploration of issues related to the study of resource conservation, environmental activism and ecological principles. Visit the Sustainability area of study page for more information about courses that address sustainability.