We’re kicking our CO2 habit

You may have heard that UMass Lowell was recently recognized as the highest-rated campus in Massachusetts by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). This means that we’re in the top 10 of over 900 colleges and universities across the nation who use this sustainability rating system.

It’s an incredible accomplishment, but we’re not doing it for the recognition.

We’re doing it for you and the planet. Whether you hope to major in one of our sustainability-focused majors or minors or just want to learn the ins-and-outs of every day sustainable living, we’ll be here to show you the ropes.

These are a few of the programs we have in place that will help you learn to make a difference in the world:

sustainability initiatives at umass lowell

$23M Accelerated Energy Program helps eliminate CO2 emissions

Last spring, UML completed it’s $23.1 million Accelerated Energy Program. It’s the largest program completed in Massachusetts to date.

Simply put, this program allowed UMass Lowell to implement more than 100 energy-saving measures in 30 buildings across campus. The benefits not only help the university and the local community but they also help us work towards our goal of carbon neutrality.

  • 9 million fewer pounds of CO2 emitted each year
  • 1.7 million fewer gallons of water used each year
  • $1.2 million in annual energy savings
  • 6,000 pieces of mechanical equipment and lighting replaced and updated to more energy-efficient options

Check this out: Let them eat grass

The Sustainability Engagement & Enrichment Development Fund (a.k.a., the S.E.E.D. Fund)

The S.E.E.D. Fund provides funding for sustainability-based projects that positively impact the student experience at UML. Every year, students and UML community members make the case for project ideas they want to see implemented. Then, a student-majority committee reviews the submissions and decides which programs to fund.

Some cool S.E.E.D. Fund projects:

  • Hybrid Shuttle: Gave Transportation Services $8,000 to put towards a product that will convert an existing shuttle into a hybrid vehicle.
  • It Pays to Ride Your Bike!: This program incentivizes students, faculty and staff to commute to campus by bicycle. It uses the $5,000 funding to reimburse a portion of the cost of a UML parking pass for participants.
  • Battery-Electric Mower Purchase: The Facilities Grounds team received $8,000 to put toward the purchase of a commercial-grade battery-electric lawn mower.

Check this out: The green scene at UML: Stainability at University Crossing

The Urban Agriculture Program

urban agriculture and sustainability at uml
Students planting vegetables at herbs at the UML Community Garden.

This program is a partnership between the Office of Sustainability and Mill City Grows, a local non-profit dedicated to improving community access to healthy, fresh food. This program has provided services to the university and the Lowell community since 2016.

Some of the pieces that go into this program are:

  • FarmShare (CSA) Program: This provides the UML community with direct access to locally-grown, organic produce.
  • East Campus Greenhouse and urban farm: A 1,800 square-foot greenhouse that is a legit, full scale and agricultural production site. This is also where the seedlings for the rooftop garden in University Crossing came from.
  • Rooftop Farm: On top of the rooftop gardens that provide produce to the community, we also have green roofs that help reduce flooding, provide habitats for wildlife and reduce carbon dioxide. You can find them on the rooftops of buildings all over campus.
  • Community Garden: Partnering with Mill City Grows, we created a community garden on Dane St. that houses 16 garden plots for Lowell residents and the UML community to use.
  •  Mobile Markets: Our partnership with Mill City Grows also gave us access to their Mobile Market. It brings fresh produce to areas of Lowell that may not have had access to fresh and healthy food before.

Rist Institute for Sustainability and Energy (RISE)

RISE was established to bring together all of the sustainability efforts happening across campus. It links the university’s research centers to campus initiatives in areas of sustainability, climate change and energy use.

RISE recently awarded a team of students who were tasked with finding solutions that would reduce the university’s CO2 emissions by 10,000 pounds in 10 weeks.

These are just a few of many ways that we’re working with students, faculty, staff and the Lowell community to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions and address climate change. At the end of the day, we want you to graduate with the knowledge and practical experience of how you can help fight climate change.