2019 Cornell University Partners in Sustainability Award recipients announced at annual Sustainability Leadership Summit

Campus Sustainability Office January 23, 2020
2019 Sustainability award winners with presenters
Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff, back row, far left, joins staff and winners of the 2019 Cornell University Partners in Sustainability Awards at the Sustainability Leadership Summit on Dec. 17.

Seven individuals and one residential community on campus were recognized in this year's round of awards for staff, faculty, and teams who have made significant and notable contributions to the creation of a sustainable campus culture and operations on the Cornell Ithaca campus. 

Among the recipients are individuals who have championed environmental justice, sustainability engagement program building, and innovative approaches to changing the way business-as-usual operates in growth chambers on campus. The 2019 awards mark the seventh year of awards on campus.  

In addition the four indivduals representing their individual or team efforts listed below, the awards ceremony held at the 2019 Sustainability Leadership Summit also recognized two Sustainability Staff Champions from 2019. The Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station including Nick Van Eck, Marc Daly and Bob Wilson were recognized for successfully prototyping a growth chamber which uses 85% less energy than standard models and will save the campus tons of carbon emissions, and enhance safety and ease of use. Sue Brightly, Communications Marketing Specialist for Human Resources, was honored for her unflagging personal sustainability actions big and small that have made a lasting cultural impression on her team.

The Campus Sustainability Office and Sustainable Cornell Council congratulate this year's winners and wish them success in continued innovation and leadership in campus sustainability efforts.  Learn more about the award winners below.

2019 CUPSA Award Winners

The Cornell University Partners in Sustainability Awards (CUPSA) annual awards recognize individuals and teams who have exemplified the sustainability values of Cornell.  Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis January - October each year. 

Exterior of Cornell Big Red BarnStaff & Faculty Award

Staff Team at The Big Red Barn

For creativity bringing sustainability to waste and event operations at the Big Red Barn 

The Big Red Barn Graduate and Professional Student Center (the Barn), a carriage house turned student center, hosts more than 200 events per year. Laura Figueroa, Sustainability Fellow at the Barn and doctoral student in entomology, and Jennifer Forbes, Director of the Barn, were recognized for success in introducing a suite of new sustainability programs, including “Bring Your Own Mug” initiative, introducing composting efforts which save ~5lbs of food waste/week, increasing recycling signage, and reducing single-use plastics through changes to the food presentation system. Check out a video detailing some of their efforts.

Cornell EcoHouse Residents pose outside of the building in 2019Group Award 


For ongoing commitment to intersectional sustainability education & creating a culture of sustainability for all students on campus

The Cornell Ecology House (commonly referred to as "EcoHouse") is one of several special interest residential communities for undergraduates located on campus. The 100+ residents have a variety of majors, but are connected through an interest in protecting the environment in ways that promote a just society. Residence Hall Director and former CUPSA award winner Sam Benson nominated her students for their work in creating a collective focused on climate and environmental justice and education, noting that EcoHouse has received national recognition through interviews with CNN, NPR, and other outlets, collectively raising the profile of Cornell sustainability nationwide. 

Taylor ThompsonStaff Award 

Taylor Thompson, Project Coordinator in Facilities & Campus Services and Former Assistant to the Assistant Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine

For efforts to create a Green Team and numerous waste, educational, and energy-based sustainability solutions in the College of Veterinary Medicine 

Taylor spent the past 2 years developing a Green Team at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Under her leadership, the school developed an Energy Dashboard that monitors water and energy usage, implemented composting in the cafeteria and student kitchens, and supported the development of a student Sustainability Club. Her efforts were instrumental in creating a vibrant and functional team to lead these efforts and contributed to both cultural change and operational improvement through her passion.

Find out how you can recognize the sustainability efforts of our students, staff, faculty and broader community members by submitting a short nomination for someone you know! 

Note: CUPSA recognizes staff, faculty, teams of any kind, and students who are working on campus in a paid capacity - for more about other, student-specific awards, see the Golden Gorge Awards hosted in May each year.