Worli Koliwada Site Plan by Aneesha Dharwadker

Sustainable design calls on a student's creativity to conceptualize, visualize, analyze, communicate, and build products, buildings, cities, landscapes, and communities that use energy and materials in a more environmentally and socially sustainable manner.

Academic Requirements

Sustainable design majors complete course work in graphic and industrial design, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban and regional planning. The program combines concrete skills development with opportunities to move between disciplinary barriers and traverse traditional boundaries. View the degree requirements. Get updated information on degree requirements and major electives.

Sample Schedules

Are you joining the Sustainable Design Program as a first-year student, sophomore, or junior? See a sample schedule for each starting point.

Unsure of where to start? Here are a few courses that Introduce the major:

  • ARCH 171: Concepts of Architectural Design
  • FAA 230: Sustainable Design of the Built Environment
  • LA 101: Introduction to Landscape Architecture
  • UP 136: Urban Sustainability
Postgraduation Opportunities

Curricular bridges allow students to prepare for the future in a sustainable world where ideas from many disciplines will be necessary to solve complex problems. As cities, industries, and businesses implement green strategy, there is an increasing need for professionals trained in sustainability. 

Graduates of this program are qualified to work for industry, business, government, and the nonprofit sector, an area expected to have a large increase of job openings in the coming years. A 2014 survey by McKinsey Global reports that the number of companies aligning sustainability with their mission has more than doubled since 2010, with 43 percent of all companies emphasizing the role of sustainability.

Your degree will help you build common career skills including:

  • Creativity
  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Computer skills
  • Oral, written, and graphic communication
  • Research
  • Teamwork

Common career titles in the field include:

  • Sustainability coordinator
  • Urban planner
  • Sustainable design specialist
  • Industrial designer
  • Product designer
  • Green business marketer
  • Architect
  • Landscape architect
  • Graphic designer
  • Green buildings consultant
  • Climate designer

Some careers may require further training or education beyond an undergraduate degree.

Graduate school opportunities include:



Sustainable Design Faculty Program Coordinator
Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Daniel Schneider is a professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and faculty program coordinator for the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Design. He is an ecologist and environmental historian whose research focuses on the interrelations between natural and human systems in sustainable planning and management. He has recently completed a book on the history of the biological sewage treatment plant that examines the interrelations between the "natural" and "artificial" in this critical infrastructure. He is currently working on an interdisciplinary project on the ecology and management of bed bugs in U.S. cities, examining bed bug infestations as an issue of environmental justice. His teaching covers ecological applications to planning, watershed planning, urban ecology, and environmental history. He is also a furniture designer and maker, focusing on using locally and sustainably grown hardwoods.

Sustainable Design Program Administrator
Assistant Dean of Academic Programs and International Education, College of Fine and Applied Arts

Nicole Turner is assistant dean of academic programs and international education for the College of Fine and Applied Arts and supports the administration of the Sustainable Design Program. She received her PhD in higher education from the University of Illinois, an MEd in counseling and career development from Colorado State University, and a BA in psychology with an environmental sciences minor from Northern Illinois University. As an undergraduate she studied abroad at the Mediterranean Center for Arts and Sciences in Sicily, Italy, where she focused on Mediterranean ecosystems. Nicole supports sustainability initiatives in her daily life and enjoys learning about the incredible design projects our faculty have led.

Sustainable Design Faculty Committee
Assistant Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture

Conor O'Shea is an assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture. His design, research, and teaching focus on the urbanization of the hinterland, operational landscapes, logistics landscapes, and the geography of freight transportation in North America. He directs the Landscape Strategies Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is founding principal of Hinterlands Urbanism and Landscape.

Sustainable Design Faculty Committee
Assistant Professor, Illinois School of Architecture and Department of Landscape Architecture

Aneesha Dharwadker is an assistant professor of architecture and landscape architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her teaching and scholarship examine globalization, colonialism, and social issues in relation to the built environment. She is the founder of Chicago Design Office and editor of Transect, a journal of design criticism. 

Sustainable Design Faculty Committee
Associate Professor, School of Art and Design
Chair of the Graphic Design Program

Eric Benson is an associate professor and chair of the Graphic Design Program in the School of Art and Design. He worked professionally as a UI/UX designer at Razorfish and Texas Instruments before he received his MFA in design from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006. His MFA thesis became the internationally recognized and award-winning sustainable design website Re-nourish. He created the Fresh Press Agri-Fiber Paper Lab. Fresh Press explores the potential of papermaking to be zero waste, environmentally sustainable, and a catalyst for a thriving local economy. Benson has published and lectured internationally on the importance of sustainable design. His work has also garnered numerous design awards and has been seen in notable venues like the Walker Art Center, the Hammer Museum, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, RISD, and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. He is also an active participant in the national design scene and local Champaign community serving on the American Institute of Graphic Arts Design Educators Community and on the board of directors at 40North and Common Ground Food Co-op. Eric recently helped launch a new project for climate designers.