Leading by Example, Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts

Filed in Efficiency, Featured, General by on January 19, 2017

2016 sustainability award winners

The UMass System has been awarded the 2016 Leading by Example (LBE) Award from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). On December 6, 2016 the University was honored at the 10th Annual Leading by Example Award ceremony at the State House in Boston. According to the award guidelines, Commonwealth agencies, public higher education institutions, municipalities, and individuals are honored for their commitment and achievements to environmental and energy benefits.

The accomplishments recognized by the DOER include a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions even while the campuses’ building square footage has grown 35% since 2004, construction of 18 LEED certified buildings since 2010, and the installation of two of the five largest clean-burning natural gas combined heat and power systems in Massachusetts. The University was recognized for the comprehensive approach taken by the system in addressing sustainability and energy practices. One example of the collaboration occurring among the campuses is the UMass Sustainability Council, comprised of campus sustainability and energy managers and President’s Office staff. The Council meets monthly to discuss relevant topics like greenhouse gas reduction efforts, sustainable transportation, etc. The Council endeavors to share best practices to address these issues and collaborate in areas wherever feasible to advance sustainability efforts.

The Sustainability Council organizes and completes the Annual Sustainability Report to the Board of Trustees. The annual report has been completed for the past four years and once reported to the Board, is available to the public on the President’s Office website. The report includes each campus reporting on the same ten categories relating to sustainability, thereby highlighting the diverse achievements of each campus in these areas. Tracking progress on critical areas is a key part of the sustainability report as metrics have been reported to show how the system and campuses are measuring up to goals. As stated in the LBE award nomination form, “It serves as an example of the dedication the Sustainability Council shows to promoting sustainability efforts to the Board and to the general public not just as individual campuses but as one University system.” To view the current FY2016 Annual Sustainability Report and all past reports, please visit the UMass President’s Office website: https://www.umassp.edu/budget-office/sustainability

This award recognizes an important achievement for the University as this is the first sustainability award honoring the collective work of the entire system in this vital area. Each UMass campus has separately received the award over the course of the last decade: UMass Amherst in 2010; UMass Boston in 2015; UMass Dartmouth in 2014 and 2008; UMass Lowell in 2012; and UMass Medical School in 2010.

As further demonstration of sustainability as an institutional value, in December the University’s Board of Trustees approved a University Sustainability policy. The policy is designed to address the key content areas of sustainability activity and establish a framework for the system to continue to be a leader in sustainability practices.

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