Rice University students, faculty, and staff began collaborating on campus environmental initiatives during the 1997-98 academic year through an environmental studies course that connected campus greening with the classroom. This cooperative partnership remains the hallmark of Rice's campus sustainability program.

Students from that same environmental studies course worked with the university administration to draft a sustainability policy, which was adopted by the Board of Trustees in March 2004. Later that year, Rice hired its first campus sustainability planner. In 2007, the position was expanded to Director of Sustainability. In 2011, the position changed again to Director of Energy and Sustainability as the campus sustainability program was incorporated into the newly created Administrative Center for Sustainability and Energy Management (ACSEM).

Rice students have played a central role in many of the university's sustainability success stories, from the commitment to achieving LEED certification for new construction, to recycling of construction waste, to trayless dining, to establishing a successful community gardening program, just to name a few. Many of these stories are documented here.