A Brief History of Sustainability at UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell's initial sustainability efforts began in 1989 with the launch of a recycling program. Over the years the sustainability program grew slowly in a piecemeal fashion with no clear direction or comprehensive management program. The turning point came in 2007 when Chancellor Marty Meehan was hired. Chancellor Meehan brought a strong environmental awareness gained over fourteen years of service as a Congressman. His environmental interest and awareness started UMass Lowell down a path that resulted in a rapid transformation.
UMass Lowell was a signatory to the American College and University President's Climate Commitment prior to Chancellor Meehan arriving in 2007 but had not moved forward to develop and submit the plan or identify a program how the university would comply with the requirements of achieving carbon neutrality. Chancellor Meehan and his administrative team championed this challenge.
In 2008, the sustainability initiative piloted a zero-sort recycling program. In the first week, the recycling rate went from 13% to 38%. UMass Lowell became the first New England School of its size to fully implement a zero-sort recycling program. Since then the university has reduced waste generation per campus user by 54% and has increased the solid waste diversion rate from 12% to 30% (excludes C&D and other wastes).
With new leadership in place, UMass Lowell issued its first Climate Action Plan in 2012 and embraced its implementation with the development of an all-encompassing campus leadership team. UMass Lowell achieved it's Phase 1 interim emission reduction goals as outlined in the Climate Action Plan five years early and is on the path to achieve its ultimate goal of neutrality.
To learn about some of the awards and recognitions we've received as a result of the efforts above check out our "Awards & Recognition" section.