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Efforts at Clemson University

Clemson University is dedicated to the goal of providing a sustainable living environment on campus while at the same time having an impact on a broader scale. The University provides innovative opportunities for student learning, essential to developing ethical students as agents of positive change. Through numerous programs and University initiatives, Clemson strives to become one of the nation’s leaders in sustainability.

Download Environmental Audit Report 2019.

Download Environmental Audit Report 2013.

Particular focuses of the University

Energy and Environment

The guiding sustainability goal for Clemson University is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, but there are important elements of sustainability that are not covered explicitly by this goal. The most important aspect of sustainability that has a direct correlation to Clemson's Net-Zero goal is energy consumption. Energy usage affects virtually all aspects of life at Clemson including but not limited to building operations, transportation, water use, waste, dining and housing.

The overarching concept is that energy and carbon emissions are directly related. As detailed in the Sustainability Action Plan, energy reduction and energy efficiency are of the utmost importance in achieving the goals of the President's Commission on Sustainability.

Clean Energy
It is essential that Clemson University's energy demands are met in a clean and sustainable way. As outlined by the Net-Zero goal, the driving force behind most sustainability-related initiatives will be limiting carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions result directly or indirectly from a multitude of actions in daily living. Clean energy usage will become more prevalent in Clemson through the reduction of nonrenewable energies and an increase in energy efficiency and the use of alternative energies.

Alternative Energies

Biodiesel at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Biodiesel: Clemson produces its own biodiesel, which is used to fuel the diesel engine trucks for the facilities department. From 2011 through 2013, The Biodiesel Program produced up to 3,500 gallons of biodiesel from 5,000 gallons of waste cooking oil, a year, and will continue production in 2015. This program helps Clemson reduce emissions and burn a more sustainable, renewable form of energy. The program is now located at the Cherry Crossing Research Station.

For more information, visit the Biodiesel Program site, check out this video or contact David Haines.

Geothermal: Geothermal energy is generated from the natural heat from within the earth and can be used for both heating and cooling in buildings. The recent addition to Lee Hall (Lee Hall III) utilizes 42 geothermal wells at a depth of 440 feet to help provide and offset energy demands. The geothermal heat pump system has helped make Lee III Hall a high energy building and one of the most sustainable buildings in the United States.

For more information, visit the Lee Hall Expansion website.

Solar: Clemson has increased the use of solar energy to power buildings over the last decade. Solar panels provide electricity to the on campus buildings of Fluor Daniel and the Life Sciences Building, and there are plans to install solar panels to the Snow Family Outdoor Center and a solar canopy over parking lot R6.

Visit Campus Facilities to learn more and to see real-time statistics for campus solar installations.

Solar panels in use at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Wind: Clemson has recently built a one-of-a-kind wind turbine testing facility in Charleston, S.C. The goal of this facility is to be able to develop clean, inexhaustible energy resources in order to provide solutions to environmental challenges. The testing facility has worked toward increasing reliability and efficiency, reducing cost, and improving grid compatibility.

Learn more about Clemson's efforts in wind energy.

For further information about energy at Clemson, please visit the Clemson Facilities website.

University Buildings

By the Numbers

7,600,000: Square footage of academic, research, housing, student life and athletic spaces

1%: Yearly goal for the average reduction in energy consumption per gross square foot of building space

21: Number of LEED certified buildings

8: Gold certified LEED buildings

100%: Percentage of all new buildings that must achieve silver LEED certified or higher

Many of the buildings on campus were designed and built for a different economic and environmental age. When these buildings were constructed, energy costs were a fraction of what they are today, and the idea that carbon dioxide could lead to climate change was not a real consideration. Now, tremendous energy and cost savings practices are being implemented at Clemson in existing buildings and new buildings, as well as ongoing efforts that seek to educate students and faculty on how to reduce their energy use. These sustainable practices are being done in order to reduce energy consumption per gross square foot of building space on average by 1 percent each year.

LEED Certification at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

LEED Certified Buildings
Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) is an initiative of the U.S. Green Building Council that provides third-party verification of green buildings. The goals of this program are to lower operating costs, increase the health and safety for occupants and conserve energy, water and other resources. Striving to become LEED certified for new and renovated buildings enables Clemson to continue on the path of a more sustainable environment.

Green Building Savings at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

The goal, as described in the Sustainable Building Policy, states that all new facilities over 5,000 gross square feet and renovations costing more than 50 percent of building replacement shall seek to acquire a LEED Silver rating at a minimum. University buildings that have received a LEED certification are: the Advanced Materials Research Lab, Baruch Institute, Duke Energy Innovation Center, Fraternity Quad, Graduate Engineering Center, Lee Hall III, Packaging Science Building, Rhodes Research Center Annex, Rowing Facility, the Sandhill Conference and Research Center, CU-ICAR Parking Structure/Office, the Academic Success Center, the Watt Family Innovation Center, Core Campus, the Douthit Hills Hub, the Life Sciences Building and the Greenville One Building.

To learn more about Clemson's sustainable building efforts, please visit Clemson’s LEED Scorecard.

The Clemson Area Transit (CAT) public bus system is a fare-free service that operates throughout Clemson, Pendleton, Anderson, Seneca, and Central.The CU-ICAR campus demonstrates an unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability. CU-ICAR is a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Power Partners, a voluntary program that supports the organizational procurement of green power by offering expert advice, technical support, tools and resources. Follow the links below for more information about the Green Power Partnership program.


In conjunction with the President's Commission on Sustainability and the Sustainability Action Plan, Clemson University has made efforts to reduce carbon emissions due to transportation. Through new programs for commuters and encouraged bicycle riding, Clemson has worked to decrease this major source of pollution.

Approximately 7% of carbon emissions come from students and employees commuting to campus and University owned vehicles; not included is the indirect pollution from fossil fuel extraction and mining. Visit the Clemson facilities site to take part in the commuting survey.

Commuter Programs

The Clemson Area Transit (CAT) public bus system is a fare-free service that operates throughout Clemson, Pendleton, Anderson, Seneca and Central.

Transit systems can have major impacts on limiting greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation system. Literature estimates that one bus on the road saves an average of five cars from the road, and a full bus can counteract the effects of 50 or more cars. Clemson University Parking and Transportation Services has made efforts by partnering with local transit agencies in order to minimize these greenhouse gas emissions.

The Clemson Area Transit (CAT) public bus system is a fare-free service that operates throughout Clemson, Pendleton, Seneca and Central, contributing greatly to the sustainability of Clemson University and its surrounding areas. The CAT Buses transport about one and a half million passengers per year, reducing the overall greenhouse gas emissions due to transportation approximately seven percent. Additionally, the Green Route is now operated by Tiger Transit, which offers smaller, more fuel efficient buses than previously used by Clemson Area Transit. The CAT Bus headquarters, located minutes from campus, is a state of the art building that includes photovoltaic cells that save the building from drawing power from the grid. These solar panels limit carbon emissions the equivalent of 5 cars per year, 89 barrels of oil per year, or 85 acres of pine forest, and generate $8,000 in energy money yearly. The facility also utilizes natural light, sensor-lights, and electric vehicle parking.

Clemson University Parking and Transportation Services has recently partnered with Greenville's public bus system, Greenlink, to offer free rides for students, faculty, and staff to Clemson's Greenville locations. Tiger Commute offers transportation from Clemson to Greenville, and Tiger Connect connects the various Clemson Greenville facilities. These buses also have the capability of limiting the amount of cars on the road, and for much farther distances than the CAT Buses. Parking and Transportation also offers shuttles to the Advanced Materials Center in Anderson, as well as holiday shuttles to the Charlotte-Douglas Airport and the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, limiting the use of cars and the cost of parking for students.

Please visit the Parking and Transportation Services website to learn more about the transit options at Clemson and for CAT Bus Sustainability efforts. Download the my.Clemson app for real-time route updates.

Carpool Programs
Implementation of various carpool programs has been a major improvement to commuter transportation. To increase carpools, expanded incentives are offered to participants that include preferred parking and reduced parking permit fees. Clemson Carpool was established to help facilitate increased carpool opportunities. The program is available to students, faculty and staff and provides discounted and more convenient parking locations.Clemson University also provides a free shuttle service to both Greenville-Spartanburg and Charlotte-Douglas International airports for each major break, like Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Winter Break and Spring Break. More information can be found at Airport Shuttle.

Clemson Carpool was established to help facilitate increased carpool opportunities. The program is available to students, faculty, and staff and provides discounted and more convenient parking locations. is a similar initiative, but is a web-based rideshare program that helps to facilitate increased carpool/vanpool opportunities.


The Clemson University car-sharing program, Zipcar, provides students, faculty and staff a cheap and reliable method of transportation. The program supports sustainability by using vehicles such as hybrids, low emission vehicles and all electric-automobiles.

Learn more about the Zipcar Share program.

Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Low Emission Vehicle (LEV)
Low emission vehicle parking spaces are located all throughout campus for cars considered to have low greenhouse gas emissions. These spaces are used as a reward to faculty and staff members that drive environmentally-friendly vehicles. Currently there are 13 locations on campus with multiple LEV parking spaces, and this number increases yearly.

Learn more about LEV parking.

Bike-Friendly Campus

 Bicycle Friendly University, Clemson University, Clemson South CarolinaClemson University has received national recognition as a Bicycle Friendly University at the bronze level by the League of American Bicyclists, one of just 58 schools to earn the designation. The Bicycle Friendly University program recognizes institutions of higher education for promoting and providing a more bikeable campus for students, staff and visitors. In the future, Clemson will be eligible to apply for higher ratings of silver, gold and, eventually, platinum.

By making steps toward a bike-friendly environment, Clemson University has become a healthier and more sustainable community. The University adopted the Bikeways Master Plan in 2012 as a part of the on-going commitment to environmental sustainability. This plan has been approved in order to create a bicycle system that "promotes safety and provides a robust network of commuting and recreational pathways that connect the entire extended campus." The major goal is to continue to integrate bike pathways between on-campus housing, academic and athletic facilities, and extended connections to off-campus facilities. Increasing the amount and the quality of on-campus bicycle racks is another improvement that the University has pledged to enact.

In 2017, Parking and Transportation Services created a bike share program. Students can pick up a bike from any of the 5 different docking locations and bike around campus. To learn more about the program, go to


Bike Paths at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Waste and Recycling

Recycling at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Recycling and proper waste management are of the utmost importance when building toward a more sustainable environment. Nearly 90 percent of what goes into the trash can be recycled, and many of these materials will not decompose in a landfill for decades or even hundreds of years. Reduction of solid waste in landfills, increased recycling on campus and in the community, and increased recycling awareness have all been results of Clemson's commitment to sustainability.

Recycling statistics from the academic year.

Recycling on Campus
Recycling at Clemson University, Clemson South CarolinaClemson has recently decreased the amount of recyclables that are trashed in campus offices, classrooms and residence halls. In 2010, the University removed trashcans from classrooms and implemented recycling stations in convenient locations in hallways. A recent case study showed that the recycling rate doubled after implementation of these stations in the buildings of Brackett and Sirrine. Residence hall recycling has also increased; each residence hall room is given personal recycling bins and residents have access to central recycling collection bins within their buildings. Clemson is home to the Kite Hill Recycling Center, an on-campus Materials Recovery Facility that provides a convenient location to recycle many different materials. The Kite Hill Recycling Center is funded and operated by Clemson University, but it is open to the public to use. For more information on how to recycle at Clemson, visit the Clemson Recycling Website.


Composting involves the use of organic matter, typically food waste, which will decompose and act as a fertilizer in soil. Some of the issues associated with food waste include environmental and economic problems. Food waste that is not put to good use will rot in a landfill where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (EPA). Additionally, Americans throw away over $165 billion of food each year, according to NPR radio, which accounts for the largest portion of our waste on a mass basis. The major benefits from composting are the reduction of typical resources to grow food such as water, fertilizers and pesticides; improving the soil health and structure; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in landfills.

Composting at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

At the Cherry Crossing Research Facility, Clemson Recycling and Clemson Dining Services collaborated to recover nearly 80 tons of food waste just in the last year to recycle as compost. Composting in Clemson comes from all of the organic waste from the on-campus dining halls produced every day. The food is blended then transported to the composting facility to become enriched as useful soil. The waste is mixed with carbon inputs and put through an in-vessel composter, allowing for the temperature and air flow to be controlled.

The compost is cured for about a month in a stockpile lot where it is turned daily. After the compost is ready to be used as soil amendment, it is put to use on campus and the surrounding areas. Composting can also be purchased from Cherry Crossing. Visit the Recycling website to learn more.

Game Day Recycling
Clemson University has successfully increased the tonnage of recyclables on home football game days each year. In 2018, Clemson recycled 123,661 pounds of gameday waste, making us the GameDay Recycling National Champion. Having pride in Clemson on game day is about being Solid Orange, but it’s also about being Solid Green

Housing and Dining

Clemson House Dining at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Dining Services
The on-campus restaurants and dining halls at Clemson University are one of the largest consumers of energy and water, as well as a major producer of waste. Clemson Dining Services has implemented numerous sustainable practices such as local sourcing, food composting, use of EcoProducts, food waste minimization, and recycling (including fryer oil) to be used in the dining facilities.

Learn more about Clemson’s sustainable dining..

On-Campus Housing
Over 6,000 students live in University-owned housing, so the environmental footprint from housing has the potential to be very large. It is paramount that housing on Clemson's campus is sustainable in all aspects. There has been a major increase in the accessibility of recycling in all on-campus apartments and residence halls. In residence halls, individual rooms are given personal recycling bins for students to use to recycle at communal bins in their place of residence. When students are moving in or out at the beginning and end of each academic year, housing provides mass recycling opportunities for cardboard outside of each housing area.

Education has also been a pivotal part of increasing housing sustainability. The Ecology Representatives (Eco-Reps) Program was established in 2011 to better educate and raise awareness about supporting a sustainable lifestyle, specifically within on-campus residences. This program provides opportunities to not only learn more about sustainable initiatives, but facilitate discussion within housing complexes to deepen education and promote leadership in these areas.


Water conservation at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

To meet the demands of agriculture and a large body of students, faculty and staff, Clemson University consumes approximately 335 million gallons of water each year. This produces nearly 600,000 gallons of waste water every day and near one million gallons of waste water on football game days. Through a combination of efforts from departments such as dining, housing, utilities, agriculture and building projects, the sustainable use of water at Clemson University has been promoted and implemented in many daily activities. Examples include water-saving techniques such as water-efficient landscaping, low flow and dual flush toilets, rain water collection systems at various facilities on campus and tray-less dining and water-efficient appliances in the dining halls.