The Office of Sustainability first opened in January 2015. It provides the UMass Lowell community with essential and centralized support services which integrate, communicate, and promote sustainable opportunities that contribute to the pursuit of carbon neutrality.
UMass Lowell is a leader in sustainability
A Selection of Milestones
Recycling Program Initiated
Signing of the American College & University President's Climate Commitment
Marty Meehan named UMass Lowell Chancellor
Single-Stream Recycling Program Initiated on Campus
Development of "UMass Lowell 2020: A Strategic Plan" Begins
Climate Change Initiative Formed
Energy & Sustainability Manager Hired
North Campus Plant Fuel Conversion and Upgrades
Installed Four PV Arrays on Four Buildings Totaling 204.8 kW
Climate Action Plan Adopted & CAP Steering Committee Formed
UMass Lowell Partnership with 4.5 MW Westford Solar Project
Launched Innovative Food Waste Diversion Program
First STARS Assessment Completed
Entered into Net Metering Purchase Agreement for 15.9 MW Solar Project
Established of the Office of Sustainability
Accelerated Energy Program Begins
University Recognized as STARS Silver
Charter Signatory of Second Nature's Climate Commitment (1 of 84 schools across the country)
Completion of first 200 kW Solar Canopy array on campus
University Recognized as STARS Gold
Launch of SEED Fund
Launch of Urban Agriculture Program
Ranked 22nd Most Sustainable School in Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” list
A Brief History of Sustainability at UMass Lowellbrief-sustainability-history-uml
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. 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 its 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 Recognition section.