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Climate Action Plan 2.0

University-wide Carbon Neutrality by 2025

solar canopy garage

INTRODUCTION

On April 22, 2021, University President Darryll Pines announced that the University of Maryland will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2025. The Climate Action Plan will be updated to reflect this new goal.

The University of Maryland became a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (now called the Carbon Commitment) in 2007 and published its first Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2009. The second Climate Action Plan -- CAP 2.0 -- was published online in 2017 and clarifies the university's strategies for meeting upcoming climate action targets. The strategies in CAP 2.0 are either currently being implemented or need to be implemented within the next several years to meet these aggressive, near-term goals.

CAP 2.0 is a “living document” and aims to encourage community participation in climate action planning. Many faculty, staff and students have tirelessly contributed to and continue to implement CAP strategies that keep the university on track to meet its climate action targets. The university is committed to achieving carbon neutrality for all scopes of emissions by 2025 and aims to continue enhancing opportunities for all students to learn about sustainability and climate action.

PROGRESS

The University of Maryland has already achieved many of its original CAP goals. Notable accomplishments include:

  • Reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions 62% from 2005 to 2020 despite campus growth and the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Procuring 100% of its purchased electricity from renewable sources in 2020 
  • Offsetting 100% of the university's air travel emissions associated with faculty, staff, and student travel (since 2017)
  • Implementing several performance contracts, reducing energy consumption 20% or more in select buildings
  • Increasing the percentage of commuters who choose alternative transportation for daily commuting
  • Creating a Sustainability Studies Minor - one of the most popular minors at UMD
  • Educating more than 17,000 students in their first semester at UMD about sustainability challenges and opportunities
UMD's greenhouse gas emissions reductions from 2005-2020

The US Federal Government occasionally uses the Social Cost of Carbon to estimate economic damages associated with an increase in carbon dioxide emissions in a given year. Damages include decreased agricultural productivity, impacts on human health, property damages from increased flood risk, etc. Based on these government estimates, the University of Maryland has reduced its carbon liability and benefited the economy by $44.9 million by preventing approximately 1,245,665 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) from entering the atmosphere since 2005.

 

UMD's target emissions schedule

TARGETS

The university is striving to meet the following ambitious targets for all scopes of emissions:

  • 50% reduction in carbon emissions (from 2005 levels) by 2020
  • Carbon neutrality (net-zero carbon emissions) by 2025
  • Zero-Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) fleet by 2035
Bike Rack at UMD

STRATEGIES

The University of Maryland is estimated to save $120 Million while preventing 4.3 Million MTCO2e from entering the atmosphere between 2016 and 2040 by implementing the following strategies. Using the Social Cost of Carbon, the additional economic benefit to the world is approximately $216 Million from this level of carbon reduction. The university's impact will become even greater as it develops and implements additional strategies in the future to reach its goal of carbon neutrality. Strategies are categorized by:

  1. Power
  2. Commuting
  3. Air Travel
  4. Solid Waste
  5. Land Use and Management
  6. Purchasing
  7. Education & Research

Power

The campus receives most of its power from a combined heat and power plant (CHP), which uses natural gas to produce steam and electricity simultaneously. CHP is already an efficient process but planned projects will make it and campus buildings even more efficient, thereby decreasing the carbon intensity of each facility. As of 2020, all electricity coming from sources other than CHP is sourced from renewable sources and any carbon emissions associated with powering new facilities are offset. There is plenty of opportunity for every person on campus to contribute toward reaching these goals! The UMD campus community can collectively save over 44,000 MTCO2e by 2025 through everyday behaviors like turning off computers, lights, and other equipment when not in use.

TARGET: 17% decrease in electricity consumption from existing facilities, through facilities enhancements, between 2014 and 2020

ACTIONS: Implement various infrastructure improvements to achieve 17% decrease in electricity use. These include an Energy Performance Contract for 9 energy intensive facilities, FM and Auxiliary-led projects, proactive O&M, IT projects including cloud computing, and other initiatives.

LEADER: Facilities Management - Engineering & Energy and Operations & Maintenance

STATUS: In 2019, UMD reported a 3.3% reduction in electricity consumption from existing facilities compared to a 2015 baseline. These facilities include buildings across the state of Maryland.

 

719,577 MTCO2e

$99/MTCO2e

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: 3% decrease in electricity consumption from existing facilities, through behavior change, between 2014 and 2020

ACTIONS: Implement behavior change programs to achieve 3% decrease in electricity use. This includes plug load management, Green Offices, Green Housing, and other behavior change programs.

LEADER: Facilities Management - Engineering & Energy and the Office of Sustainability

STATUS: Green Office, Green Lab, Green Chapter, and Green Terp programs actively promote and reward staff, faculty, and students for behavior changes for sustainability, including resource conservation.

 

126,984 MTCO2e

$120/MTCO2e

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: 100% of purchased electricity comes from renewable energy sources by 2020

ACTIONS: Increase the percentage of the university’s purchased electricity that is produced by renewable energy sources by purchasing and retiring bundled and/or unbundled Green-e Certified Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). 

LEADER: Facilities Management - Engineering & Energy

STATUS: In 2019, 95% of the university's purchased electricity was generated by wind, solar, and other renewable power. The University expects to purchase 100% renewable energy in 2020.

 

643,888 MTCO2e

$12/MTCO2e

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: Negate all emissions associated with the electrical and thermal load of new facilities

ACTIONS: Negate new greenhouse gas emissions resulting from new construction, renovations, building occupancy changes, and major program changes that begin construction in CY2016 or later by designing buildings to strict energy-efficiency standards and using energy from renewable sources.

LEADER: Facilities Management - Engineering & Energy, Design & Construction, and the Office of Sustainability

STATUS: The Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering, which opened in January 2019, is the first fully carbon neutral building on campus.

 

489,774 MTCO2e

-$8.48/MTCO2e

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: 2.7 megawatts of photovoltaic power on UMD facilities by 2018

ACTIONS: 1.9 megawatts of photovoltaic (PV) power - approximately 7,000 solar panels - will be installed on three parking garages in 2017 and another 200 kilowatts of PV at IBBR. Combined with the existing 631 kilowatt system at Severn, the campus will have approximately 2.7 megawatts of PV by 2018.

LEADER: Facilities Management - Engineering & Energy

STATUS: This target has been met. A 631 kW solar array has been operating at the Severn Building since 2011. The parking garage and IBBR arrays were installed over the summer of 2017.

 

0 - Included in Purchased Power Initiative

N/A

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: Decrease annual CHP emissions 25,000 MTCO2e (20% reduction from 2014 baseline) by 2025

ACTIONS: Through a combination of initiatives including improving the efficiency of the steam distribution system, installing new power generation technology, reducing energy demand from new and existing facilities, and carbon offsetting, the campus Combined Heat and Power Plant will produce at least 25,000 MTCO2e fewer emissions by 2025 (target: 101,429 MTCO2e) than it produced in 2014 (baseline: 126,429 MTCO2e). 

LEADER: Facilities Management - Engineering & Energy

STATUS: UMD has projects underway to renew and modernize the campus energy system, focusing on developing resilient and reliable campus infrastructure.

 

450,000 MTCO2e

-$23/MTCO2e

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: Capture approximately 3,000 MTCO2e of power plant emissions by 2020; 6,000 MTCO2e by 2025

ACTIONS: Use algae-based carbon capture technology to absorb carbon dioxide from the Combined Heat and Power Plant's flue emissions. Capture 3,000 MTCO2e by 2020 and, with advances in technology, capture 6,000 MTCO2e by 2025.

LEADER: Office of Sustainability and Facilities Management - Engineering & Energy

STATUS: This project is on hold.

 

120,000 MTCO2e

$80/MTCO2e

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: Advocate for greater State funding and utilize other funding sources to achieve high performance new buildings

ACTIONS: 

  1. State should provide additional capital to construct high performing, energy efficient buildings based on engineering estimates /guarantees of operations and maintenance savings over the life of the building. Currently there is a 2% premium provided for green building construction and design but this is too small an amount to make the radical leap forward that is needed and possible.
  2. Facilities Management will seek additional funds for high performance new construction in the form of performance contacts, Energy Reserve Fund loans, or other internal or external loans and grants. 

LEADER: Facilities Management - Design & Construction and Engineering & Energy

STATUS: Facilities Management is providing some additional funding to achieve enhanced energy performance in new facilities and seeking creative financing opportunities to accelerate these efforts.

 

0 - Contributes toward other strategies

N/A

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

Commuting

Many faculty, staff, and students are choosing alternative transportation and those who drive alone are increasingly choosing fuel-efficient cars. New federal fuel-efficiency standards are making it easier to find vehicles that save on gas and reduce carbon emissions. By 2025, these standards alone may reduce carbon emissions by 53,000 MTCO2e from just commuters' trips to and from campus. The more people who choose carpooling, vanpooling, public transit, walking, or biking as a means of getting from one place to another, the greater those reductions will be. New housing projects located throughout College Park will increase options for living where you work/study. Those who want to eliminate their carbon footprints associated with commuting may soon have the option of offsetting their emissions when they register for parking permits.

TARGET: Add 2,445 student beds between 2015 and 2020; add 3,784 student beds between 2015 and 2025

ACTIONS: The Departments of Resident Life and Residential Facilities and non-affiliated developers intend to construct several new student housing facilities on and near campus between 2015 and 2025. More on and near campus housing means less commuting and commuting-related emissions. 

LEADER: Departments of Resident Life, Residential Facilities, and non-affiliated developers

STATUS: The On-Campus Housing Strategic Plan and the City of College Park Development Plans will add 2,600 student beds on and near campus between 2019 and 2025. The On-Campus Housing Strategic Plan includes the construction of two new residence halls to replace

 

23,851 MTCO2e

N/A - This project will happen regardless of CAP

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET:  50 additional carpoolers by 2020; 100 by 2025

ACTIONS: Promote a less formalized, more casual carpooling program than the previous carpool program. Develop and implement ways to quantify actual carpooling numbers (possibly through proximity apps).

LEADER: Department of Transportation Services

STATUS: In 2019, participation in the carpooling program increased as DOTS introduced programmatic changes to facilitate scheduling flexibility among rideshare participants. In 2020, remote learning and working due to COVID-19 nominally decreased commuting to campus.

 

4,280 MTCO2e

N/A - This project will happen regardless of CAP

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: 800 commuters will switch from personal vehicles to Purple Line by 2025

ACTIONS: The Department of Transportation Services and the Office of Sustainability will promote Purple Line ridership opportunities to students, faculty, and staff starting the year before trains begin carrying passengers.

LEADER: Department of Transportation Services

STATUS: The Purple Line project is currently in construction. It is expected to open to riders in or around 2023.

 

7,461 MTCO2e

N/A - This project will happen regardless of CAP

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: Complete a study of TDM opportunities by mid-2017; develop a plan for implementing new programs by mid-2018

ACTIONS: By mid-2017, complete a study to determine the types of TDM programs (mass transit, vanpools, carpools, etc.) that would be most effective in getting a significant number of UMD commuters to choose alternatives to single-occupancy-vehicle commuting. By mid-2018, develop a plan to implement new programs that would start in 2019.

LEADER: National Center for Smart Growth and Department of Transportation Services

STATUS: A study was completed and the Department of Transportation Services continues to work on improving transportation demand management on and around campus.

 

0 - Contributes towards other strategies

N/A

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: 25% of vehicles at 35 mpg by 2020; 50% by 2030, and 100% by 2040

ACTIONS: No direct action required from UMD. The fuel efficiency of commuter vehicles should improve as federal fuel efficiency standards (CAFE Standards) for new vehicles become more stringent. 

LEADER: Federal Government and Auto Makers

STATUS: Auto makers are working on meeting federal fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles.

 

223,868 MTCO2e

No Cost to UMD

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: 43 EV parking spaces with Level 2 chargers by 2020; 64 by 2025; 93 by 2040

ACTIONS: The Department of Transportation Services will continue to install EV parking spaces with Level 2 chargers on campus.

LEADER: Department of Transportation Services

STATUS: As of 2020, there are 36 EV charging stations on campus. The University is conducting a study of current and potential campus ZEV infrastructure opportunities.

 

1,214 MTCO2e

-$710/MTCO2e

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: At least 5% of commuters offset their own commuting emissions by 2020; 10% by 2025

ACTIONS: The Department of Transportation Services will offer a calculator that lets people determine their actual carbon footprint and corresponding offset quantity when signing up for a parking permit. The cost of offsets will be added to the permit price. The Department of Transportation Services and Office of Sustainability will absorb the cost of promoting and administering the program.

LEADER: Department of Transportation Services and Office of Sustainability

STATUS: This strategy is under review.

 

33,182 MTCO2e

-$0.17MTCO2e

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: By 2020, work with local governments/agencies to implement at least one new bicycle infrastructure project that connects campus to neighboring communities in addition to the City of College Park. Help implement at least one additional project by 2025.

ACTIONS: The BikeUMD Coordinator and Facilities Management staff will work with local municipalities, the Prince George's County government, State Highway Administration, Purple Line planners, and other appropriate organizations to plan and implement projects that improve bicycling connectivity between the campus and local neighborhoods. 

LEADER: Department of Transportation Services and Facilities Management - Facilities Planning

STATUS: DOTS is working to enhance bicycle safety on local roads connecting to campus and is currently exploring opportunities to expand biking infrastructure on the Paint Branch trail.

 

TBD

TBD

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

Air Travel

Whereas the university has control over its energy infrastructure and some influence on commuting behaviors, it has little effective control of air travel emissions. Given the university's goal of being globally connected, restricting air travel would hinder important university work. Faculty travel for research, students study abroad, athletes fly to competitions, and staff travel to conferences; all of which support university functions. To address the environmental impact of this travel, the university will implement a carbon offset program to negate 100% of the carbon emissions associated with air travel starting in 2018. A Carbon Offset Fund Committee reporting to the University Sustainability Council will select verified projects that sequester or prevent carbon emissions and determine the best process for administering the program. 

TARGET: Starting in 2018, offset 100% of business, study abroad, and athletic air travel emissions

ACTIONS: The university will use verified carbon offsets or new investments in on-campus emission reduction activities to negate emissions associated with air travel. The Sustainability Council will establish a Carbon Offset Fund Committee to recommend an annual carbon fee and select offset projects. The standing committee will ensure that the university’s offsets are appropriate each year, given the changing offset price and continuous development of new offset projects.

LEADER: Office of Sustainability

STATUS: Starting in 2017, the University offset study abroad, business, and athletic air travel emissions using verified carbon offsets. The Carbon Neutral Air Travel Initiative is expected to continue annually.

 

1,400,212 MTCO2e

-$7.80/MTCO2e

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

Solid Waste

Emissions from solid waste decreased 99% since 2005! Today, solid waste emissions account for less than 1% of the university's carbon footprint. The university accomplished this by greatly expanding recycling and composting efforts over the past decade and sending remaining solid waste to landfills that capture and destroy methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Looking ahead, the campus can achieve carbon neutrality in this category by getting more recyclable and compostable materials in their correct receptacles and reducing the total amount of solid waste (including recyclable, compostable, and landfill waste) generated.

TARGET: Individual combined compost and recycling rates of 60% by 2020 and 65% by 2025

ACTIONS: Increase in campus-wide recycling participation to increase the percentage of personal solid waste that individuals on campus divert from landfills. Expand compost collection, increase individual participation in compost collection efforts, and assess feasibility of creating an on-site or nearby compost facility. Conduct periodic waste audits to monitor and minimize contamination.

Note: Although this strategy is expensive when measured in terms of greenhouse gas reductions, other environmental benefits make it an important sustainability strategy for the university. 

LEADER: Facilities Management – Recycling and Solid Waste

STATUS: As of 2018, the individual combined compost and recycling rate was 49.5%. With global changes to recycling practices and policies, we are discussing new campus goals that appropriately reflect our current efforts and progress on waste management.

 

7,548 MTCO2e

-$1,411/MTCO2e

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET:  Maintain an institutional diversion rate of 75% or above every year

ACTIONS: Maintain high levels of landfill diversion for all construction and demolition projects. Individual recycling and compost actions will also contribute to this goal.

LEADER: Facilities Management – Recycling and Solid Waste

STATUS: In 2019, the institutional diversion rate was 81%. Due to COVID-19 and other factors, the institutional diversion rate dropped to 68% in 2020. In addition to individual recycling and composting, this rate also incorporates reuse through Terrapin Trader.

 

No additional CO2e reductions

N/A - No additional cost

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: Reduce total solid waste (recycling, compost, and landfill waste excluding construction & demolition waste) by 1% per person per year

ACTIONS: Foster a university-wide culture of reuse. Increase efforts to reduce usage of disposable materials and packaging on campus.

LEADER: Facilities Management – Recycling and Solid Waste

STATUS: The amount of solid waste generated per person has decreased 12% on average over the last four years. With the introduction of Anytime Dining in 2016, waste per person decreased noticeably.

 

5,471 MTCO2e

$37/MTCO2e

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET: Reach 4,000 students through education and outreach initiatives by 2020

ACTIONS: Create an online video tutorial about compost and recycling, with different versions targeting different campus audiences. Utilize a peer education team for zero waste events with support from the LEAF Outreach Team.

LEADER: Facilities Management – Recycling and Solid Waste

STATUS: In partnership with the Department of Resident Life, the educational module GreenEdu is currently in development and will complement engagement through tabling events, Green Terp programming, and annual events like RecycleMania, among other initiatives.

 

0 - Contributes towards other strategies

N/A

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

Land Use and Maintenance

As Maryland's land grant institution, the University of Maryland owns and operates research farms located from the mountains of Western Maryland to the coastal plain of the Eastern Shore. Approximately 2,000 MTCO2e is emitted each year from cows on research farms (methane emissions from digestion) and from fertilizer applied to crops and campus grounds. A bit more carbon dioxide is emitted from farm and landscape equipment, which predominantly run on gasoline and diesel. Based on a study conducted last decade, trees on the College Park campus sequester approximately 683 MTCO2e annually. The university is working on decreasing carbon emissions associated with agriculture and landscaping and plans on quantifying the carbon sequestration of university owned forests located around the State.

TARGET: Reduce grounds and landscaping emissions incrementally and achieve carbon neutrality for landscape maintenance by 2050

ACTIONS: Facilities Management, RecWell, Extension and other groups that manage grounds and landscape equipment will replace old equipment with lower-emissions models when possible and seek opportunities to implement landscape practices that are less carbon intensive than current practices.

LEADER: Facilities Management, RecWell, Extension

STATUS: TBD

 

TBD

TBD

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

TARGET:  Quantify carbon sequestration from forests on university land by 2018 and plant at least 100 new trees on campus annually

ACTIONS: UMD Extension will conduct a field study to quantify the acreage and species composition of forests on university land and determine total carbon sequestration by 2018. FM Building and Landscape Services will oversee efforts to increase the net acreage of tree canopy on campus and will plant at least 100 new trees per year toward that goal.

LEADER: UMD Extension and Facilities Management - Building & Landscape Services

STATUS: Beyond planting at least 100 new trees on campus annually, Facilities Management also aims to have 40% of campus shaded by trees. A proposed study of the carbon sequestration of university-owned forests began in 2020.

 

Potential offsets from UMD-owned forests

TBD

CO2e REDUCTION
NET PRESENT VALUE
(cumulative 2016-2040) (based on 2016-2040 costs & savings)

Purchasing

Although the university does not currently track the carbon footprint of purchasing, it certainly has the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact associated with the manufacturing, transportation, and use of the food, equipment, and other goods that it buys. By reducing consumption of goods, selecting goods that meet sustainability criteria, and working with contractors who practice a similar environmental ethic, the university's carbon reductions in this area could be greater than those across all other areas of this Climate Action Plan. The Department of Procurement and Business Services and Department of Dining Services are leading efforts to drive sustainability into the core of the university's purchasing decisions.

TARGET: Continue 20% sustainable food purchasing or increase by 1% - 4% each year

ACTIONS: Diversify purchases to include more humane, ecologically sound, locally grown, and fair food (as defined by Dining Services’ Sustainable Food Commitment). 

LEADER: Dining Services

STATUS: Dining Services met its goal of 20% sustainable food purchasing six years ahead of schedule. In August 2019, UMD became the first university signatory of the Cool Foods Pledge, a commitment to cut food-related greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2030.

TARGET:  By the end of 2017, sustainability will be embedded within procurement operating procedures and purchasing processes with a focus on office products, computers and lab equipment

ACTIONS:

  • Include sustainability requirements to requisitions made through the KFS System.
  • Include sustainability guidelines in POs, Purchasing Card training, Cardholder agreements and any other procurement.
  • Include links to the Office of Sustainability’s Green Purchasing Guide at relevant PSS website locations.
  • Sustainable choices are flagged within Vendor Contracts.
  • All university RFPs/ Contractor solicitation will include sustainability requirements.

LEADER: Department of Procurement and Business Services

STATUS: The Office of Sustainability is collaborating with Procurement and Business Services to develop a realistic plan for implementing this strategy.

TARGET: By the end of 2018, achieve full compliance with all sections of this campus policy

ACTIONS: Focus on VIII-3.10(C) sections:

  • V2a (100% post-consumer or tree free copy paper), V3a-h (PSS Responsibilities).
  • The AVP of Procurement and Business Services will oversee activities to achieve full compliance with the EPP by the beginning of CY2018.

LEADER: Department of Procurement and Business Services

STATUS: The Office of Sustainability is collaborating with Procurement and Business Services to develop a realistic plan for implementing this strategy

TARGET: By the end of 2019, procurement officers will be steered to preferred sustainable products and services

ACTIONS:

  • Ensure that products available for purchase follow the EPP and provide preferred purchasing choices.
  • Include links to the Office of Sustainability’s Green Purchasing Guide at relevant PSS website locations.

LEADER: Department of Procurement and Business Services

STATUS: The Office of Sustainability is collaborating with Procurement and Business Services to develop a realistic plan for implementing this strategy.

TARGET: Develop and achieve full compliance by the end of 2020

ACTIONS: PSS and OS develops sustainable procurement language in Vendor Code of Conduct and/or Terms and Conditions.

LEADER: Department of Procurement and Business Services

STATUS: The Office of Sustainability is collaborating with Procurement and Business Services to develop a realistic plan for implementing this strategy.

Education & Research

As a signatory of the Carbon Commitment, the University of Maryland set an ambitious goal to educate all students about sustainability. UMD is progressing toward that goal through its broad array of degree granting programs, living-learning programs, and initiatives such as the Sustainability Advisors and Chesapeake Project. Year by year, students are increasingly likely to receive an introductory lesson on sustainability during their first semester, grapple with sustainability concepts in various courses spanning the academic disciplines, and get involved with sustainability-focused action-learning or research activities. Sustainability and climate change research at UMD continues to be among the best in the world and collaboration across disciplines as well as with campus operations departments helps those research activities flourish.

TARGET: Reach 100% of students enrolled in UNIV100 and in Honors, Scholars, and Gemstone seminar classes

ACTIONS: Utilize Student Sustainability Advisors (trained undergraduate instructors) to teach a lesson on sustainability in all UNIV100, HONR100, Scholars colloquia, and other first-year seminar classes.  

LEADER: Office of Sustainability

STATUS: Now called the Sustainability Teaching Fellows program, 211 UMD faculty members have participated since 2009 and integrated sustainability into over 211 courses in all 13 colleges/schools.

TARGET:  Run the Chesapeake Project faculty development workshop for at least 15 UMD faculty members annually

ACTIONS:  The Chesapeake Project is a multiday workshop to help faculty integrate sustainability across various disciplines. Those who complete the workshop become Chesapeake Project Faculty Fellows and receive ongoing support from the Office of Sustainability and Chesapeake Project Faculty Fellows community. 

LEADER:  Office of Sustainability

STATUS:  Now called the Sustainability Teaching Fellows program, 211 UMD faculty members have participated since 2009 and integrated sustainability into over 211 courses in all 13 colleges/schools.

TARGET: Increase the percentage of Gen Ed courses that have a focus on sustainability

ACTIONS: This strategy has three components as approved by the Sustainability Council:

  1. The Office of the Provost should provide incentives to faculty who develop new sustainability-focused Gen Ed courses;
  2. The Office of the Provost should encourage faculty who teach courses in the Sustainability Minor to classify those courses as Gen Ed;
  3. The Office of Sustainability should encourage the development of sustainability-focused Gen Ed courses through the Chesapeake Project.

LEADER: Office of the Provost and Office of Sustainability

STATUS: Now called the Sustainability Teaching Fellows program, 211 UMD faculty members have participated since 2009 and integrated sustainability into over 211 courses in all 13 colleges/schools.

TARGET: All undergraduates have access to action-learning, service-learning, or travel‐related sustainability programs

ACTIONS: Provide financial support to university programs that offer students real world experience in solving environmental problems and developing new sustainable technologies. Funds could be used to create institutionalized structures that support special projects, such as the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s international Solar Decathlon competition. 

LEADER: Office of the Provost

STATUS: Programs including PALS and UMD's Solar Decathlon team receive financial support from the university.

TARGET: In 2017, establish a committee to develop and implement new graduate programs in sustainability

ACTIONS: Establish an interdisciplinary committee including faculty, sustainability practitioners, employers, and current/prospective students to develop the curriculum and funding model for new graduate degree and/or certificate programs in sustainability. The committee should start its work in early 2017 and submit its recommendations to the Office of the Provost and Sustainability Council by the end of 2017. 

LEADER: Sustainability Council

STATUS: Professor Jelena Srebric received a $90,000 grant from the Sustainability Fund to launch an interdisciplinary Master's Degree in Sustainability. She is currently working with campus partners to develop the program.

TARGET: Assess the sustainability literacy of undergraduate and graduate students every three years

ACTIONS: The Office of Sustainability will work with appropriate partners to conduct a Sustainability Literacy Assessment of undergraduate and graduate students once every three years.

LEADER: Office of Sustainability

STATUS: The Office of Sustainability has not assessed the sustainability literacy of the UMD student body since 2013.

TARGET: Establish the University as a leader in improving sustainability outcomes at local, state, national, and global levels through integrated, cutting-edge, and transformative research

ACTIONS: The University, through its various research centers and initiatives, will make annual progress on each of the following goals:

  • Demonstrate global engagement and regional relevance through the University’s research efforts
  • Establish the University of Maryland as a leader in supporting, through research in relevant disciplines, the implementation of sustainability commitments made at all levels including on campus
  • Identify large-scale opportunities that leverage existing University of Maryland strengths to collaboratively deliver impactful research
  • Provide incentives and support the development of cross campus proposals for transdisciplinary research to amplify the impact, visibility, and outcomes of such work 
  • Raise the level of discourse on sustainability issues across campus to foster an engaged, informed, and active community of scholars working on current issues
  • Identify gaps and potential overlap in various college curricula and, as needed, recommend how our students can become more engaged with local, regional, and global sustainability issues, including as they relate to campus sustainability efforts
  • Pioneer new modes of collaborative learning and new approaches to education that equip students at all levels with the knowledge and skills necessary to support the sustainability initiatives of today, and lead the sustainability initiatives of the future 
  • Raise the profile and visibility of the high quality sustainability research done at the University through an appropriate communications strategy that is reflective of the University’s world class capabilities and reputation
  • Enhance the University’s existing connections with governments, research institutions, businesses, and non-governmental organizations to engage these partners in collaborative efforts to deliver improved sustainability outcomes 
  • Foster relationships with alumni, partners and friends to garner financial and strategic support

LEADER: Various research centers and initiatives

STATUS: The Provost, VP for Research, and several deans funded the Global Sustainability Initiative - among other programs - to address this goal.

TARGET: Provide Sustainability Fund support to at least one research project each year that focuses on improving sustainability at the University of Maryland

ACTIONS: The Sustainability Fund Review Committee of the University Sustainability Council will seek opportunities to fund research projects that: A) create substantial opportunities for student involvement; B) have practical implications for improving the environmental performance of campus operations.

LEADER: Sustainability Fund Review Committee of the University Sustainability Council

STATUS: The Sustainability Fund continues to provide grants to research projects.

TARGET: As they become available, deploy cost-effective technologies developed by the UMD research community to reduce environmental impacts

ACTIONS: Faculty and students whose research could influence campus operations should contact the Office of Sustainability to explore the potential for implementing their research technologies. The university may prioritize and offer greater financial support to home-grown technologies versus current commercially available alternatives.

LEADER: UMD researchers

STATUS: Researchers occasionally approach the Office of Sustainability about applying their research to campus operations.

Kermit and Henson statue

Acknowledgements

The Office of Sustainability is grateful to its many partners who helped develop this Climate Action Plan. The UMD Environmental Finance Center was instrumental in conducting carbon and financial impact calculations for all carbon reduction strategies. Thank you to the following partner organizations for helping develop and implement these strategies and for everything else they do to make the University of Maryland a national model for a Green University. 

The CAP format and numbering system (2.x) provides flexibility in climate action planning, making it easier to publish minor updates (ex., version 2.1, 2.2, etc.) and annual status reports for each strategy. The university will make major updates to CAP at least every five years (3.x, 4.x). 

The University of Maryland’s Climate Action Plan is a “living document.” The Office of Sustainability welcomes your feedback and ideas to help the university meet and exceed its climate action goals. Please email sustainability@umd.edu to share your thoughts.