Ball State notched another victory in its sustainability efforts this Fall with the announcement that the new Health Professions Building earned a LEED Gold Certification.

The news affirms Ball State’s long-term commitment to environmental best practices, and the building is the fourteenth structure on campus to earn a LEED certification.

But the University’s efforts go well beyond green construction. Ball State examines all operations to find ways to reduce its carbon footprint and to be a more efficient consumer of natural resources.  The ultimate goal is to make sure that future generations inherit a healthy Earth.

In the process, Ball State’s sustainability leadership has been recognized by prestigious organizations such as the Princeton Review, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and more.

Here’s a look at seven more eco-friendly initiatives in addition to the University’s LEED-certified construction efforts.

Geothermal Energy

Ball State's geothermal system.

In 2014, Ball State shut down its coal-fired boilers and embraced renewable energy with the largest geothermal system of its kind.

The system uses water heated by the Earth to warm and cool 47 buildings, saving the University about $2 million a year and cutting its carbon footprint in half.

Construction required system installers to drill 3,600 boreholes and connect 5.3 million feet of piping. But now that system is hidden under the beautiful campus and you’d never know it’s there. 

Teaching Sustainability

Student taking notes.

Ball State offers both an undergraduate minor in sustainability and a 12-credit graduate certificate in sustainability for working adults.

In both programs, students learn about the connection between the environment, our society and the economy, and how to apply sustainable concepts in decision-making.

Many other courses across the curriculum have sustainability as vital component.


A person pulling weeds and debris.

The University’s recycling program diverts an estimated 20 percent of waste from landfills.

Ball State’s Purchasing Services takes recycling to heart: In 2018 alone, the division recycled: 620 pounds of stretch plastic; 1,740 wooden pallets; 1,815 pounds of batteries, and 71,901 pounds of electronics.

Recycling includes more than typical trash, though. Grounds crews reuse trimmings and yard waste as flower bed mulch. During demolition projects, concrete and bricks are ground up and re-used as aggregate for new construction.

Habitat Protection

Looking up a tree in Christy Woods.

You probably know about Christy Woods, 17-acre outdoor teaching lab on the southwest corner of campus.

But did you know that Ball State owns and manages a total of six natural areas that provide 425 acres of wildlife habitat, including forest, prairie, and wetlands?

Those properties include the 161-acre Ginn Woods in northern Delaware County, the second-largest stand of old-growth forest remaining in Indiana; and Cooper Farm, an incredibly diverse 80-acre property that supports environmental education and field research.


Waterfront of Prairie Creek Reservoir.

Established in 1982, The Center for Energy Research/Education/Service (CERES) at Ball State University is an interdisciplinary academic support unit focused on issues related to energy and the use of natural resources.

CERES primarily investigates how to conserve energy and alternatives to fossil fuels, and has strong campus, local, state, and regional aspects to its mission.

For example, the center has helped school districts across Indiana reduce their carbon footprints. In Muncie, CERES helped the city develop community gardens, assess water quality in Prairie Creek Reservoir, and more.


A Ball State shuttle bus stops to pick up students.

Ball State’s shuttle buses run on biodiesel fuel that burns cleaner than standard diesel fuel, reducing the University’s dependence on non-renewable resources.

Biodiesel is traditional petroleum-based diesel mixed with 10 to 20 percent of fuel derived from plant-based sources such as soybean oil and even recycled cooking oil.

The result is cleaner air for the campus and surrounding community to breathe.

Green Investments

Shafer Tower reflected in campus windows.

In 2015, the Ball State University Foundation modified its endowment investment principles to pursue investments that support the environment.

The decision was an effort to be more socially responsible and also to help diversify investments.

As a result, the foundation created an Environmental, Social and Governance Portfolio. This ESG portfolio option is available to endowment donors who may choose to designate that their endowment fund be managed under ESG principles.

More about Our Commitment to Sustainability

Our commitment to sustainability is reflected in our mission statement. We engage students in educational, research, and creative endeavors that empower our graduates to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives enriched by lifelong learning and service, while we enhance the economic, environmental, and social vitality of our community, our state, and our world.

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