University of Massachusetts, Amherst

UMass Amherst is proud to be an award-winning nationally recognized climate leader.

This fall we were proud to be honored by the Environmental Protection Agency as winners of the national EPA Food Recovery Challenge competition, and by MassRecycles, as winners of their College & University Recycling Award.

As of October 2013 we also became the largest institution in the nation to sign onto the Real Food Campus commitment, pledging to procure 20% real, fair trade, humane, locally sourced food by 2020 (thus curbing large quantities of food waste and carbon emissions associated with long distance food transportation).

Educational Preparedness, Opportunity & Learning Environment

Over 300 sustainability-related courses and 20 sustainability related majors ensure that our students gain an incredible range of educational opportunities to take part in climate-related research on our campus.

Internships and programs across the campus support both academic and co-curricular climate leadership and preparedness.

Green Building Researchers, a group of graduate interns on campus, for example, have achieved a tremendous amount, including authoring the Green Building Guidelines now utilized on every new construction and major renovation project on the Amherst campus, and helping UMass institute LEED certification as a cultural norm.

This year the campus also chose to adopt Colin Beavan’s “No Impact Man” as our freshman Common Read book, ensuring 4,650 incoming students would be introduced Beavan’s sustainably focused climate-conscious framework as they began their time here.

In addition, UMass launched our new Model Green Residence, a project originally proposed by a Sustainable Resource Economics student and adopted with the help of our Sustainability Green Building & Energy Fellow (one of over one hundred and twenty five student interns working on sustainability efforts on the Amherst campus as part of our Eco-Rep, Sustainability Fellowship and other green co-curricular programs: including one of the largest eco-rep/sustainability fellowship teams in the country).

The model room, set up with the most energy efficient layout possible, can be viewed live but also through an online website tour page now provided to all incoming students.

In cooperation with DOER, NSTAR/WMECO, and Philips Lighting, UMass also installed over 1,100 LED light bulbs across our campus in 2013, with plans to install 4,000 more bulbs across the residential complexes in the coming year.

In March 2013 UMass Amherst held an international climate gathering featuring more than 80 researchers and students from Norway, Japan, Korea, England, Canada and the U.S. who gathered to share their environmental research related to the polar regions.

Our free North East Climate Science Center webinar series continues to make cutting edge climate research accessible to the broader regional and international community, providing scientific information and techniques that those interested in land, water, wildlife, and cultural resources can use to anticipate, monitor and adapt to climate change.

Climate Innovation

Our Green Building Researchers also took part in an innovative collaborative regional educational opportunity where they met with members of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments this summer and presented faculty and graduate research on an Integrated Urban Metabolism Tool.  The tool was designed to assess sustainability indicators in cities to engage in planning that reduces energy use/greenhouse gas emissions and considers all three social, economic, and environmental capitals of urban regions in a multidisciplinary context.

Our Fellows and Eco-Reps were also responsible for a number of innovative green projects this year including initiating the campus’ first ever electronic waste recycling program and launching a campaign which resulted in Auxiliary Services Department eliminating plastic bags from all retail dining locations across the entire UMass Amherst campus.

In addition, Professor Daniel Greenberg’s Sustainable Living class developed a service learning project which beta-tested Earth Deeds, a new online tool developed by Greenberg enabling groups to directly measure and manage their environmental impacts.

After students learned about climate change and estimated the class’ carbon footprint utilizing the new tool, students committed to lifestyle changes designed to prevent approximately 55.9mT of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

Creating Opportunity through Campus/Community Partnerships

In an effort to help empower underrepresented members of the local community to address issues of climate change and regional sustainability, Joseph Krupczynski, UMass Amherst Associate Professor of Architecture + Design, recently developed a detailed civic engagement plan for the “New England Sustainable Knowledge Corridor” designed to engage local under-served populations in civic dialogues that create opportunities for capacity building and increased community participation.

In addition, UMass Amherst computer scientist Prashant Shenoy and his team of UMass researchers, began working with Holyoke Gas and Electric (HG &E) this year, to analyze over 18,000 smart meters deployed in Western Massachusetts that could transform the way energy is utilized, monitored, and controlled in U.S. buildings to create a smarter greener grid.

Finally, in the coming year UMass Amherst plans to build one of the largest anaerobic digestion facilities in the state, to turn food scraps, manure and other organic-based waste into bio-gas for green energy (while decreasing emissions). This facility will be used by regional municipalities and other colleges in the Pioneer Valley and will produce green energy that will be used to decrease both campus and regional emissions.