Leading by Example Award Recognizes University’s Campus-wide Efforts
By Ed Brennen
UMass Lowell has once again been recognized for its comprehensive sustainability efforts across campus, this time with a 2019 Leading by Example award from the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Chancellor Jacquie Moloney accepted the award on behalf of the university at a recent State House ceremony, where the Baker-Polito administration recognized eight Massachusetts state agencies, public higher education institutions, municipalities and public sector individuals for their leadership in promoting clean energy and sustainability initiatives.
“It means so much to us at UMass Lowell to receive this award, which is an important acknowledgement of this state’s deep commitment to addressing sustainability and climate change,” said Moloney, who was joined at the ceremony by several members of her Executive Cabinet, including Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance, Operations and Strategic Planning Joanne Yestramski and Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Julie Chen.
Administered by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER), the Leading by Example program works collaboratively with state agencies and public colleges and universities to advance clean energy and sustainable practices that reduce the environmental impact of state government operations.
“Through collaboration between state and local leaders, Massachusetts remains a national leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “Individuals, communities, institutions and agencies across the commonwealth continue to take meaningful steps in sustainability that have a strong environmental impact across the state.”
UMass Lowell, which recently became the highest-rated campus in Massachusetts according to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), was recognized by the Leading by Example program for its broad range of initiatives spearheaded by the Office of Sustainability.
They include the recent completion of the $23.1 million Accelerated Energy Program to implement 100 energy-saving measures to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 4,000 metric tons; the launch of an Urban Agriculture Program to provide local produce for the campus and community; the implementation of several sustainable landscaping practices, including pollinator habitats and the use of sheep to “mow” parts of campus; and partnerships with the city of Lowell to improve public transportation infrastructure.
In presenting the award, Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) Commissioner Carol Gladstone noted “the most important thing” is the university’s efforts to integrate sustainability into its academic and research activities.
“This is our state’s flagship engineering school, and UMass Lowell is in a unique position in terms of educating the next generation of engineers who are going to help us get to a greener future,” she said.
This marks the fourth time UML has received a Leading by Example award. In 2016, all five UMass campuses were collectively recognized for their efforts around sustainability, energy efficiency and carbon neutrality. In 2013, former Energy Sustainability Manager Paul Piraino received a personnel award for his cost-saving work, and in 2012 the university received its first institution award.
“These results only can occur as a result of sustained leadership over time,” Gladstone said. “UMass Lowell’s finance, planning, engineering, operations and maintenance (departments) all work together to achieve these results, and they come together under the exceptional leadership of Chancellor Moloney.”
Moloney credited “the whole team at UMass Lowell” for the success of the university’s clean energy and sustainability initiatives, notably Yestramski for her “commitment to environmental stewardship” and Ruairi O’Mahony for his work as sustainability director.
Leading by Example awards were also presented this year to the Massachusetts Port Authority, the Department of Correction, Berkshire Community College, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, the city of Worcester, Jillian Wilson-Martin of the Town of Natick and Claudine Ellyin of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.