UMD Ranks 13th among Nation's Greenest Universities

August 27, 2013

The University of Maryland has been ranked No. 13 by The Sierra Club in their seventh annual ranking of America's greenest universities.

The rankings are compiled from scores in all areas of sustainability, including outreach, energy consumption, waste management, transportation, innovations and more. UMD received perfect scores in co-curriculum and planning with high marks in the areas of waste management, innovation and transportation.

"I think the university and the many people involved in the campus sustainability effort should be proud of the Sierra Club ranking and what has been accomplished. Our students, faculty and staff realize we have many challenges ahead, but are collectively seeking strategies that will allow the campus and the surrounding community to rise to the next level of performance," said Scott Lupin, director of the Office of Sustainability and associate director for the Department of Environmental Safety.

Some of the key factors that contributed to the university's high ranking include:

  • The university decreased its carbon footprint 14.4% from 2005 to 2011
  • Facilities Management, Dining Services, and the Stamp Student Union partnered to expand compost collection
  • Students contributed more than $500,000 to fund 40 sustainability projects led by students, faculty and staff
  • More than 200 students declared the Sustainability Studies Minor within the first year of the program
  • More than 100 professors in all 13 colleges/schools revised their courses to include sustainability lessons
  • More than 120 campus offices participated in the Green Office program
  • Shuttle-UM ridership increased from 1.5 million riders in 2005 to 3.4 million riders in 2012

The co-curriculum achievement was earned by "providing students with sustainability learning experiences outside the formal curriculum."  In this area, UMD shined as it nurtures a campus culture immersed in sustainability.  A perfect score was also achieved in planning due, in part, to the strength and vision of the university's  Strategic PlanFacilities Master Plan and the Climate Action Plan which were developed with broad campus input and participation.

Along with co-curriculum and planning, transportation added to a successful ranking.  "A robust, fare- free shuttle system, over 4,000 bicycle parking spaces and transportation demand management strategies tailored to decrease the number of parking permits issued to single occupancy vehicles all combine to support increases in transit use and cycling and decreases in parking registrations. Our campus sustainable transportation is more than a buzzword, it is becoming commonplace," said Beverly Malone, assistant director for The Department of Transportation Services.
UMD's score was further bolstered by a strong waste management strategy. "The recycling program at The University of Maryland is well established and growing every year. Our campus community has enthusiastically embraced the program, which is demonstrated by our increasing diversion rate.  It is a pleasure to be a part of such an environmentally conscious community," said Bill Guididas, coordinator of recycling and solid waste for Facilities Management.

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 at the end of September, will highlight the array of campus achievements and goals it has set out to accomplish.