University of Maryland Campus Sustainability

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted on 2/15/08

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University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor William E. Kirwan has launched a new initiative to promote environmental stewardship and sustainable practices across the system's universities, research institutions, and regional higher education centers. The chancellor's Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Initiative will focus on developing policies, practices, and programs that will make the university system a national leader in institutional responses to the challenges of global climate change.

"Our universities have long been on the forefront of environmental education, research, and policymaking," said Chancellor Kirwan. "The initiative will utilize USM's strengths in these areas to establish sustainable and energy efficient practices across all of our campuses. We will also work to strengthen curricular offerings and opportunities for research and collaboration in environmental science, policy, and sustainable technologies."

"The University System of Maryland recognizes that we need to foster a sustainable environment to retain Maryland's quality of life and leading role in the nation's knowledge economy," said Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, whom Chancellor Kirwan has appointed the system's vice chancellor of environmental sustainability. "The best way to ensure that future generations of Marylanders inherit a healthy, sustainable environment is to lead by example and see to it that today's decisions contribute to a better tomorrow."

Goals of the USM sustainability initiative include:

  • Reducing energy consumption system-wide by 15 percent and greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 per Governor Martin O'Malley's EmPOWER Maryland initiative and Climate Change Commission recommendations as a way to save taxpayers money, reduce stress on Maryland's energy markets, and improve the environment;
  • Crafting and enacting new policies for capital projects, human resources, and procurement to achieve these objectives;
  • Conducting audits of greenhouse gas emission for all USM institutions and using best practices to reduce these emissions;
  • Developing a system-wide strategy for campus sustainability and energy efficiency, including "green" building guidelines and sustainability benchmarks for all new construction and major facility renovations;
  • Refocusing and strengthening instructional and research programs dealing with environmental sustainability and climate change;
  • Bringing the expertise of USM's institutions to bear in addressing Maryland's three-part challenge of Chesapeake Bay restoration, growth, and climate change.

"Across the university system, I have met and spoken with many students who want sustainability to become a guiding principle for our universities and our society," said USM Student Regent Richard Scott, a senior at Frostburg State University and a member of the Maryland Student Climate Coalition (MSCC). The MSCC is a grassroots organization of USM students advocating for the adoption of sustainable practices and a policy of carbon neutrality across the university system. "I am very encouraged by the system's proactive stance and commitment to become a leader in responding to the challenges of global climate change."

The sustainability initiative is one of three new initiatives established by Chancellor Kirwan to address major challenges to Maryland's economic leadership, educational preparedness, and environmental quality. In addition to fostering system-wide sustainability, the chancellor has set two other priorities for his tenure: closing the college retention and graduation achievement gap for minority and underserved students and fostering the state's global economic competitiveness by increasing the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teachers and graduates from USM institutions.

For more information on the USM sustainability initiative, visit: