Campus News

Over $200,000 Awarded to 10 Teams for Sustainability Efforts

Photos of trees in front of the Main Building on UK's campus.
Ten teams of University of Kentucky students, faculty and staff will begin work on sustainability projects next semester after being selected to receive Sustainability Challenge Grants totaling more than $200,000.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 29, 2020) — Ten teams of University of Kentucky students, faculty and staff will begin work on sustainability projects next semester after being selected to receive Sustainability Challenge Grants totaling more than $200,000. This is the largest cohort of teams in the six year history of this program.

The Sustainability Challenge Grant program is designed to engage multidisciplinary teams from the university community in the creation and implementation of ideas that will promote sustainability by simultaneously advancing economic vitality, ecological integrity and social equity.

“Now, perhaps more so than at any other time, it is critical to integrate the core principles of sustainability (economic prosperity balanced with environmental stewardship and community well-being) in the operations, education, research and outreach of the University of Kentucky,” said Shane Tedder, UK sustainability officer.

“These 10 projects, and the talented, interdisciplinary teams leading them, hold tremendous promise for driving high-impact innovations across a broad-range of subjects. These initiatives will also provide many of our students with real-world experience that will set them up for success as they pursue lives of purpose and meaning.”

The 2019 Sustainability Challenge Grant winners are:

  • Building Community through Innovation and Sustainability of Kentucky's Forest ($44,550)
  • Evaluating Twenty Years of Urban Reforestation in Lexington ($41,317.20)
  • Sustainable Campus Electronics Recycling Program at the University of Kentucky ($32,703.81)
  • Place Setting: Enhancing Sustainable Approaches to Food Security and Community Engagement ($32,250)
  • Research Innovators in Sustainable Energy (RISE) ($24,986)​ 
  • Aerated manure compost facility for the smaller horse-farm operation ($24,461.10)
  • Coordinating and Assisting the Reuse of Assistive Technology in Rural Appalachian Communities: A Service Learning Program ($21,472.30)
  • Preparing our Urban Forests for our Changing Climate ($15,500)
  • Designing for Wellbeing: Mindful Oasis. Reimagining Gatton Student Center Botanical Gardens ($8,550)
  • Honoring Kentucky’s Agricultural Excellence ($4,210) 

To read descriptions of each project and information on the departments and individual team members involved, please visit

In the first five years of the program, 33 projects were awarded a total of $900,000 to pursue transformational, sustainability-driven projects on the UK campus and beyond. The program is a collaborative effort of the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, The Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment, and the Office of Sustainability. Funding support for the program was provided by the offices of the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, the Provost, the Vice President for Research and the Student Sustainability Council.

This year, 16 interdisciplinary, sustainability-focused proposals requesting more than $590,000 were submitted. These teams were composed of 93 faculty, staff and student members representing 43 academic programs from 13 colleges and multiple institutes and centers. Every proposal received technical reviews from experts with relevant experience. These reviews, provided by 55 professionals from across the campus and community, formed an informative foundation for the final selection process. The steering committee combined the technical reviews with current campus priorities (as defined by the UK Strategic Plan, Campus Master Plan, Our Path Forward, and the UK Sustainability Strategic Plan) and the desire to fund a diverse portfolio of new initiatives to make final selections and funding decisions.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.