What is Transylvania doing?

Students in campus garden

Transylvania University affirms sustainability as a core value and integrates it into the intellectual and social life of students, faculty and staff by encouraging study, discussion and participation in sustainable practices on campus and in the community.


Stars LogoIn April 2013, Transylvania University received a Bronze star from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education through their Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). This framework provides a comprehensive methodology for evaluating sustainability in the context of higher education.

Student Organizations

Transylvania Environmental Action League (TEAL) is a student-run organization dedicated to sustainability outreach and action, both on campus and beyond. Some of TEAL’s activities include organizing a Low Impact Week and organizing a series of events focused on local food.

The Student Government Association (SGA) is a partner and leader in campus sustainability efforts. Several SGA committees are actively involved with sustainability initiatives across campus, including transportation and land management planning. SGA funded enhancements to printers to provide the option of duplex printing, funded recycling bins for every student room to encourage recycling and has financially supported the Transy Bikes! program.

Transy Bikes!

Transy Bikes! is a student-run bike program. Free bikes are available for loan through the Campus Center and Transy Bikes! Shop. The Transy Bikes! Shop, located just off Forrer’s front lobby, is where student mechanics maintain the loan bikes and help students, faculty and staff care for their personal bikes. The program also hosts regular workshops focused on safety and basic bike maintenance and organizes regular rides for all skill levels. The student mechanics learn their skills by volunteering at Broke Spoke, a community bike shop located only a few blocks from campus.

Students on bicycle

Conservation Coordinators

Conservation coordinators are the eyes and ears for sustainability across campus. Each academic and administrative building has a staff conservation coordinator, and there are conservation coordinators throughout the residence halls. Each semester, coordinators are responsible for conducting a sustainability audit of their building or hall, and they help the sustainability office promote and implement a variety of program and initiatives, including winter shutdown and Recycle+.

Jobs and Internships

Several federal work-study paid positions are available in the sustainability office for students interested in furthering sustainability on and off campus, the Transy Bikes! Program is staffed by student employees, and paid positions with the sustainability office are available most summers. Additionally, several students have completed academic internships in partnership with the sustainability office.


Transylvania has two community gardens. A group of faculty, staff and students maintain an organic community garden behind Poole Residence Hall. Through a partnership with Seedleaf, Transylvania also helps maintain the London Ferrell Community Garden on property owned by Christ Church.

Student tending garden plants

The butterfly garden at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway was the result of a student-led effort to renovate a space on campus. It consists of native plants selected for their ability to attract butterflies. The corner is a popular Lexington bus stop, and passengers enjoy the garden while waiting.

The rain garden borders the back of the Carpenter Academic Center and was one of the first to be installed in Lexington. It is designed to capture water runoff and allow it to soak into the ground. The plantings are native perennials, including little bluestem; lobelia; sea oats; butterfly weed; copper, yellow and blue flag iris; sensitive fern; dwarf sweetspire and oakleaf hydrangea.


We recycle most materials, including paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, batteries, electronics and ink cartridges. We take bulk waste to a local company to be ground into mulch and other products, and pre-consumer waste from Forrer Dining Hall is composted through a partnership with Seedleaf.


Transylvania is part of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Farm to Campus program aimed at increasing the amount of Kentucky Proud food found on campuses throughout the state. Our dining service provider purchases seasonal locally grown produce, the coffee shops offer organic, fair trade coffee and flour and cornmeal are purchased from a local mill.


Transylvania has taken several measures to reduce its carbon footprint, including installing low-flow shower heads, lighting retrofits, geothermal systems and a two-week campus shutdown over winter break. Those modifications led to a 20 percent reduction in purchased electricity and a 46 percent reduction in natural gas consumption from 2009-13, and our greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 23.4 percent.

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is the capacity of society to meet its needs without degrading the interrelated environmental, social and economic systems on which future generations of all species will rely.

Energy Policy
Climate Action Plan