Sustainable WPI

WPI sustainable building sports and recreation center

WPI has been actively engaged in creating and maintaining a sustainable campus for many years. Just one aspect of our many sustainability initiatives, this tour goes location by location to show you some of the many ways we have worked to conserve energy and water, and promote sustainable activities within our campus community.

Hey you!

It's me, Gompei! I would love to give you a tour of sustainability at WPI, but I know it may not be possible to visit in person. That won't stop me though! I am so proud to show off all the ways WPI has been actively engaged in creating and maintaining a sustainable campus for many years. Together with the Office of Sustainability, I road around and visited all the places where you can see sustainability in action here on campus, using our famous Gompei's Gears bike share program. I stopped at all the best places, and wrote detailed notes on the many ways we have worked to conserve energy and water, and promote sustainable activities within our campus community so you won't miss a thing. Take a look below and you can follow along with the step-by-step guide and digital tours we created.

I hope to see you at WPI soon,




A Step-by-Step Guide to Sustainability on Campus

Park Avenue Garage
  • Bike Fix-It Station: Biking to campus reduces the miles we drive in gas-powered vehicles, which produce about 20 percent of all carbon emissions. This station helps community members keep their bikes on the road by making minor repairs a breeze.
  • Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: These three dual-charging stations are where employees and students may charge their electric vehicles, an environmentally friendly alternative to gas-powered transportation.
  • Zipcar Fleet: Members of the WPI community may leave their cars at home—or choose not to own one—thanks to this convenient, fuel-efficient vehicle-sharing option.
Higgins House
  • Bioswale: Located between the garage access road and the Higgins House parking lot, this depression in the ground uses soil, plants, and woodchips to slow and filter stormwater flowing from the lot. Stormwater often contains harmful contaminants like oil and gas; the bioswale helps minimize pollution of our local water bodies.
  • Formal Gardens: Located on the grounds of Higgins House, these gardens offer a restful oasis for our campus community.
Salisbury Laboratories
  • Gompei’s Gears Bike Share: One of four campus locations for WPI’s bike share program (others are located at Daniels Hall, Faraday Hall, and Gateway Park), where community members can get around campus and the city without polluting the air.
  • Rooftop Greenhouse: WPI’s Department of Biology collaborates with Worcester’s Regional Environmental Council and YouthGROW Program to learn about plants and grow seedlings that are then sold at local farmers markets.
East Hall
  • Green Roof: Located on top of East Hall (WPI’s second LEED-certified building), the green roof is home to a 5,000-square-foot garden composed of sedum, chives, and other plants, as well as a stormwater collection system that provides the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with the ability to study flow and quality of the drainage from the roof.
Innovation Studio
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification: This is one of five LEED-certified buildings on campus—others are East Hall and the Sports & Recreation Center (LEED Gold), Faraday Hall (LEED Silver), and the Bartlett Center (LEED). To earn LEED certification, buildings must be energy efficient, conserve resources, and contribute to the well-being of those who

    use  them.

  • Energy Saving Features: Energy usage is reduced by the building’s envelope design and its insulation value, the glass windows, the glass curtain wall (which has a high R-value and low solar heat gain coefficient), state-of-the-art heating and cooling, LED lighting, and occupancy sensors throughout the building.
  • Sustainable Materials: Eighty percent of the wood used in the building is Forest Stewardship Council certified, meaning that the wood comes from responsibly managed forests. Sustainable content can also be found in the glass curtain wall, ceilings, window shades, and carpet tiles; 70% of the materials used in construction were manufactured within 500 miles of WPI.
Sports & Recreation Center
  • Solar Water Heating: Solar panels on the roof heat the water for the swimming pool, greatly reducing the amount of electricity normally needed for this purpose.
  • Lighting Controls: Daylight sensors automatically dim lights while occupancy sensors turn lights off after a space is vacated. These controls also help reduce electricity consumption. 
  • Water-Saving Restrooms: Water is a limited resource that should be conserved—waterless urinals, flushometers on toilets, and water-conserving faucets help reduce water use.
  • Paperless Hand Drying: Specialized hand dryers, which cost less to operate than heated air hand dryers, generate fewer carbon emissions, and are more hygienic than paper towels, are used in restrooms, reducing paper use and waste.
  • Sustainable and Recycled Materials: The use of bamboo on feature walls and some ceilings help preserve hardwood forests (bamboo looks and acts like wood, but can be harvested after only three years of growth as opposed to oak, which is harvested after 100). Countertops are also made from recycled glass mixed with a cement binder and pigment.
  • Water Bottle Filling Stations: Over 50 water bottle filling stations have been installed around campus, including in the Sports & Recreation Center. They use a non-ozone-depleting refrigerant, are hands-free, and reduce the use and disposal of single-use bottles, which take hundreds of years to decompose.
Alumni Field
  • Artificial Turf: The football field is covered in artificial turf rather than grass to reduce environmental impacts. It helps conserve water, and because it requires no fertilizers, pesticides, or irrigation, there are no carbon dioxide emissions generated by lawn-care equipment.
Morgan Dining Hall
  • Healthy Eating Choices: WPI’s state-of-the-art Pulse on Dining Marketplace offers healthy entrée choices, including vegetarian options, an allergy-specific food station, and the Eat Local program that supports local vendors and farmers.
  • Reducing Food Waste: Rotting food produces methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, so it’s important to minimize the amount of food sent into the waste stream. Through the WPI Food Recovery Network, leftover food from the university’s main student dining facility is donated to Friendly House, a comprehensive social services hub that serves more than 25,000 city residents per year. Trimmings from food preparation and discarded food are also set aside for a local farmer to feed his pigs.
The Quadrangle
  • Water Collection Cisterns: Two 25,000-gallon underground cisterns are located beneath the south end of the Quad, collecting rainwater from a drainage system in the Sports & Recreation Center for use in watering grass and plants around campus.
Faraday Hall


The Gordon Library supports the American Library Association Bill of Rights (external link), which affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas.

The Library's general collection supports the core curriculum, research, projects, and interdisciplinary work of the WPI community. Library resources serve the WPI community through curated access to excellent scholarly material; access is made possible through traditional print book purchasing as well as subscriptions to electronic resources, user-driven selection programs, and open access materials.

The Library serves a diverse constituency with varied experiences, backgrounds, abilities, and needs. We endeavor to attain equity of ideas and diversity of voices in the research materials provided to users of the library's collections. We affirm our alignment with the Association of College & Research Libraries’ Diversity Standard #4: "Librarians and library staff shall develop collections and provide programs and services that are inclusive of the needs of all persons in the community the library serves.’"

Specifically, in practice the Library seeks to: 

  • Provide an equitable basis for purchasing materials and providing attendant programs and services.
  • Include constituents as major stakeholders in decision-making and advisory entities in the planning, development, and evaluation of the collections 
  • Advocate for and include resources that are reflective of the cultural heritage, cultural backgrounds, and social identities of the library’s constituent populations.
  • Ensure that consideration of the needs of historically oppressed, underrepresented, and underserved groups is integral to the collection's development and management 
  • Regularly assess the adequacy of existing collections to ensure they are reflective of the diversity of the library's constituent populations and of WPI's global research and project work scope
  • Regularly review the current and emergent demographic trends for the library’s constituent populations to inform collection development and management 
  • Provide increased accessibility through cataloging by allowing natural language words and advocating for changes in the Library of Congress subject headings.
  • Provide increased accessibility through assistive technologies and vendor/publisher accessibility compliance

Adapted from:

  • Building Community: OASIS (Offering Acceptance, Support, and Inclusion to Students) offers a centralized location where students can meet and study in a welcoming, relaxed environment, giving them a place to build community.
New Academic Building
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification: Upon completion, the New Academic Building will be the sixth LEED certified building on campus- others are East Hall and the Sports & Recreation Center (LEED Gold), Faraday Hall (LEED Silver), and the Bartlett Center (LEED). To earn LEED certification, buildings must be energy efficient, conserve resources, and contribute to the well-being of those who use  them.
  • Sustainable Materials: Many materials used in this project have been chosen for their minimal impact on the environment, such as: Forest Stewardship Council wood products; products made from wood reclaimed on site; paints, coatings, and adhesives with low levels of volatile organic carbons; and ceiling tiles made of 70-90% recycled materials.
  • Efficient Features: Low flow plumbing features, triple glazed windows, shading, active chilled beams, passive reheating, HVAC zoning, LED lighting, high use of natural light, and more results in an overall Energy Use Intensity (EUI) 44% less than the baseline. 

WPI Campus Tour

Innovation Studio and Messenger Residence Hall

Sports and Recreation Center Tour

Faraday Tour