The University of Maine is in a “smart-growth period” with reduced campuswide energy use and greenhouse gas emissions over a seven-year period, and green initiatives that have earned it national recognition.
Even with essential new construction and necessary upgrades to older buildings, campus energy use since 2006 has decreased 5 percent and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 20 percent as a result of energy efficiency improvements and fuel-switching, says Misa Saros, energy and conservation specialist and sustainability coordinator for the University of Maine.
Continued sustainability at UMaine is important because it can produce reductions in operating costs that save money for the university, community and students; promote institutional leadership by setting models for other buildings in the state and country; and create community engagement through the use of local building or energy companies and student involvement in the process, Saros says.
The university has come a long way since 2005, when total campus energy use and greenhouse gas emissions peaked, according to Saros. The university is now home to five LEED-certified buildings — three silver and one gold. It has a comprehensive campus recycling program, which includes a new, advanced composting facility, and is a participant in STARS — the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System.
Among UMaine’s recent honors and distinctions recognizing its national leadership as a green campus:
- Listed in Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges from 2010–2013 and named to Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll, a list of 16–20 U.S. colleges and universities, in 2011 and 2012.
- Recipient of the 2011 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award recognizing outstanding climate leadership. UMaine received the award representing doctoral institutions.
- Charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007 and has been a member in good standing for six years.
In a 2011 presentation to a regional symposium of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), University of Maine President Paul Ferguson spoke of the importance of energy efficiency at UMaine.
“In the 21st century, we see ourselves as part of an emerging community of institutions within Maine and throughout New England who are strongly committed to working together to address challenges related to consumption of energy and materials on our respective campuses, procurement of renewable energy and development of academic and research programs that will provide society at large with the tools necessary to prosper in the coming era of climate instability and insecurity,” said Ferguson, who was elected to serve on the inaugural eight-member Executive Committee of ACUPCC, representing approximately 600 institutions.
“The challenges ahead should not be underestimated, but we look forward to a future where our core institutional values of sustainability, renewability and innovation are all brought to bear in helping catalyze the kind of societal transformation that is almost certainly necessary,” Ferguson said.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745