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UMass System & State Support for Sustainability

UMass Lowell works closely with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the University of Massachusetts System to collaborate on collective sustainability goals.

Origins of Higher-Level Sustainability Collaboration

Collaboration has been an integral component of UMass Lowell's story from its founding days.

Collaboration around sustainability and energy efficiency became a central focus for the university in 2007, with the passing of "Executive Order 484- Leading By Example: Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings". This was the same year all of the five campuses in the University of Massachusetts System signed onto what was then known as the "American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment" or the ACUPCC, pledging a commitment to Climate Neutrality by 2050.

Massachusetts Executive Order 484 and the Leading By Example Council

Established in the spring of 2007, Executive Order 484- Leading by Example: Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings was signed into effect. This gathered together various representatives from executive agencies in the state to address energy efficiency and sustainability. These entities own 80 million square feet of buildings and thousands of vehicles, employ more than 65,000 people, and include large and small college campuses, prison complexes, hospitals, highway depots, state park visitor centers and youth detention facilities, to name just a few. UMass Lowell has been an active member of this group since its establishment.

Through various initiatives, Leading By Example (LBE) works to reduce the overall environmental impacts of state government operations, particularly climate and energy impacts. In addition, the LBE program promotes sustainability activities within state government, including waste reduction, water conservation, green buildings, alternative fuels, efficient transportation, and recycling.

EO 484 set aggressive sustainable energy targets for the Commonwealth including:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from state government operations by 40 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, using the LBE baseline (a three year average from FY2002 to FY2004).
  • Reduce overall energy consumption at state owned and leased buildings by and 35 percent by 2020, using FY2004 as the baseline.
  • Procure 30 percent of agency annual electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020.
  • Require that all new construction and major renovations, effective immediately, meet the Massachusetts LEED Plus green building standard established by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Sustainable Design Roundtable.
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University of Massachusetts System Sustainability Council

Continuing the collaboration established through the Leading By Example Council, the sustainability staff at the five campuses in the UMass System met with staff in the Office of the President to share ideas and collaborate. This led to the establishment of the UMass Sustainability Council, the UMass System Sustainability Policy and an annual System Sustainability Reporting process.

The UMass Sustainability Council meets regularly and works with various system-level committees to share ideas and collaborate on the areas of capital planning, energy and greenhouse gas reductions, and strategic procurement, among others.

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University of Massachusetts System Sustainability Policy

The UMass System Sustainability Policy was developed through an eighteen-month collaborative process with all five campuses.

The policy outlines a set of ten high-level principles. Through supporting documents the campuses developed a set of specific goals under each principle and established a set of metrics that can be utilized to qualitatively assess progress. The metrics are currently already required for reporting by several a third-parties including Second Nature, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), and/or the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE’s) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), which is the standard for measuring sustainability in higher education. Utilizing key STARS credits provides all campuses with a shared language on which to benchmark themselves. In addition, it provides a clear framework for peer comparison and managing the progress towards the University of Massachusetts sustainability goals.

A New Phase- Resiliency: Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth

Continuing the evolution of responding to the impacts of climate change, in the fall of 2016, Executive Order 569, “Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth” was signed into effect. EO 569 requires the Executive Office of Environmental & Energy Affairs (EOEEA) and the Department of Public Safety to establish a framework for state agencies, including the UMass system, to assess their vulnerability to climate change and identify adaptation options.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and EOEEA is developing a statewide Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan to be released in the fall of 2018. UMass Lowell will be a stakeholder agency that has an opportunity to contribute to the statewide plan.

UMass Lowell expects to revise its Climate Action Plan in late 2018 to incorporate resiliency.

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