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UMD Maintains 13th Place among Greenest Universities

August 21, 2014
Contacts: 

Andrew Muir 301-405-7068

University recognized for excellence in environmental practices

Cool Schools 2014COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland maintained its No. 13 ranking in the Sierra Magazine Cool Schools listing.  The eighth annual ranking of America's greenest universities once again placed UMD among the leaders in nationwide campus sustainability. 

"The university's sustainability efforts are continuing to expand and we have never had a greater level of commitment and involvement than we do today. We are seeing the merging of our curriculum, student-led activities and operations in ways that benefit one another. Initiatives such as the new Partnership in Action Learning in Sustainability and Terp Farm are excellent examples. Such collaboration coupled with new campus goals related to energy and water set the stage for our students to have more opportunities to experience sustainability in action and further our campus vision of being a model of a green university." said Scott Lupin, director of the Office of Sustainability and associate director for the Department of Environmental Safety.

UMD finished No. 1 out of Big Ten schools who made the list, with Penn State University finishing No. 48, University of Iowa at No. 64, and Ohio State University at No. 72.  Maryland also has one of the largest undergraduate populations out of the top 15 schools listed. 

Key factors that contributed to this year's ranking include:

  • The university decreased its carbon footprint 15 percent from 2005 to 2012.
  • More than 130 professors in all 12 colleges/schools revised their courses to include sustainability lessons.
  • Students contributed more than $870,000 to fund 54 sustainability projects led by students, faculty, and staff.
  • More than 140 campus offices participated in the Green Office program.
  • More than 250 students enrolled in the campus-wide Sustainability Studies Minor.

The university's commitment to sustainability was further showcased on Earth Day with President Loh's announcement of three campus energy initiatives aimed at reducing campus energy use 20 percent by 2020.  In a campus-wide announcement, Loh stated, "Ultimately, group success relies on individual participation. If we are to meet our promises, each of us must do what we can to reduce our environmental footprints."  In addition to these energy initiatives, Facilities Management also recently formed a new Department of Engineering and Energy to focus solely on energy and water issues.  

It was also a promising year for new University Sustainability Fund projects.  Dining Services and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources launched Terp Farm, a 2-acre farm project in Upper Marlboro, MD, to grow vegetables and fruit for campus.  The project received a $124,400 grant for a three-year pilot program.  Dining Services is also involved in The Drive to Zero Waste, a University Sustainability Fund project collaboration between Intercollegiate Athletics, Facilities Management, and Dining Services to go zero waste in all campus athletic venues, starting with Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium this fall.

"Dining Services is committed to making a sustainable difference on campus and in our community," said Colleen Wright-Riva, director of Dining Services. "Our recent collaborations with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and with Intercollegiate Athletics are just two ways we are achieving this goal. I am confident that as our campus sees the impact of local food sourcing, waste reduction, and student engagement, the next big project will be right around the corner!"

Sustainability initiatives also advanced in university academics and curricula. The Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS), which also received a grant from the University Sustainability Fund, is set to launch 28 interactive courses this fall designed to study and address sustainability issues in Frederick, MD. 

"The best take away from this year-long partnership will be making a difference in the sustainability of Frederick," said Uri Avin, director of the PALS program. "Our goal is to create a real impact, both for the city and for the students, which will serve as a model for the rest of the state."

The university continues to take pride in the campus-wide engagement of staff, students and faculty in developing a culture of sustainability.  The upcoming Sustainability Progress Report, set for release this fall, will highlight the array of campus achievements and goals it has set out to accomplish.