Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 77.34
Liaison Sally DeLeon
Submission Date Feb. 27, 2022

STARS v2.2

University of Maryland, College Park
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Sally DeLeon
Acting Manager
Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level:
The University of Maryland has advocated strongly for the Purple Line, a 16-mile light rail line that will extend from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George's County. Partnering with government and community stakeholders, nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and local College Park residents, UMD joined with these groups to launch a landmark agreement to create pathways to opportunity for all who live, work and invest along the Purple Line corridor. Pathways to Opportunity: A Community Development Agreement for the Purple Line Corridor, developed and led by the Purple Line Corridor Coalition (PLCC), articulates a collective vision for equitable economic and community development along the 16.2-mile Purple Line light-rail corridor, and advances strategies to achieve that vision through the pursuit of four shared goals: support and grow local businesses; build a thriving labor market; ensure housing choices for all; and support vibrant, sustainable communities.

The University of Maryland partnered with the surrounding City of College Park to become an EPA Green Power Community. Green Power Communities are towns, villages, cities, counties, or tribal governments in which the local government, businesses, and residents collectively buy green power in amounts that meet or exceed EPA's Green Power Community purchase requirements. This partnership between the City, UMD, and dedicated homeowners and businesses in College Park is leading College Park to achieve greater sustainability in the future as a Green Power Community. Learn more at: https://www.epa.gov/greenpower/green-power-partner-list

The University is also partnering with the surrounding municipalities to support economic and community development in the greater College Park area. With city, county, and state partners, UMD is helping to create a thriving and urban ecosystem. These developments support—and are supported by—the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty, staff, and students, front-rank academic and research programs, and expanded partnerships with the public and private sectors. This is one of the ways that UMD carries out its land-grant and flagship missions of contributing to the State’s prosperity, livability, and future.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level:
The University of Maryland frequently partners with the State of Maryland to advocate for policy change and provide policy support. For example, a group of faculty, students and staff from the School of Public Health provided a report analyzing risk factors for infant mortality in Maryland for the Maryland General Assembly. The report was provided in 2019 to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Health and Government Operations Committee. The School of Public Health's Center for Health Equity convened a workgroup at the request of the State of Maryland and with support from UMD administration to make recommendations to inform state and local legislators on laws and policies that promote health equity and have a positive impact on the lives of Maryland residents. The 2019 report on Recommendations for Health in All Policies was submitted to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly. Additionally, staff from departments around campus including the Office of Sustainability are frequently called on to participate in policy workgroups formed by the government. For example, the previous Sustainability Manager participated in the Maryland Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Working Group (MWG), helping to publish the Building Energy Transition Plan which will significantly impact statewide energy policy.

The University's School of Public Health has held the Environmental Justice and Health Disparities Symposium annually over the past seven years to convene numerous regional legislators, nonprofit organizations, and researchers to examine environmental justice and health disparities issues affecting Maryland and the surrounding region and explore solutions. Review the most recent symposium event at: https://www.ceejh.center/umd-ej-symposium

The University of Maryland's Center for Smart Growth conducts and disseminates research with the intent to inform and further public policy on topics related to Smart Growth. Areas of exceptional strength include transportation, land use and economic modeling, especially in the mid-Atlantic region; smart growth policy evaluation, especially in Maryland; and affordable housing policy across the nation. Learn more at: https://arch.umd.edu/research-creative-practice/centers/national-center-smart-growth

University of Maryland students worked closely with legislators and regional experts in 2020-2021 to develop and advocate for passage of the Facilitating University Transformations by Unifying Reductions in Emissions (FUTURE) Act to push public universities to accelerate their target dates for carbon neutrality. It is important to note that this bill was entirely student-led and was not officially endorsed by the university itself. However, less than a week after the Maryland General Assembly adjourned for the 2021 session without passing this bill, the university announced an accelerated date of 2025 for carbon neutrality in line with the bill’s central goals.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level:
In 2019, President Pines and the University of Maryland joined 164 other colleges and universities across the nation to support a legal challenge to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In addition to signing the amicus brief, UMD continued to identify avenues for offering support to our DACA students and advocate for a restoration of their legal protections.

In 2020, Dean Robert Orr of the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy provided testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment. The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing to explore solutions to the climate crisis, including actions that can be taken by the federal government to support the transition to a green economy and increase competitiveness in the global marketplace. Dean Orr testified as a witness before the Committee, speaking on resilience to inevitable climate shocks and economic transformation and competitiveness, two areas where recent Federal government backsliding and inaction is undermining U.S. interest.

The University of Maryland is a member of many national education and research associations, including the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Big Ten Academic Alliance, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). As a member of these organizations, UMD and other universities join together to influence national policy and academics. For example, UMD and other APLU members joined the Double Pell Alliance supporting the National Campaign to Double the Maximum Pell Grant, a policy that will increase access to financial aid and education.

With the support of the University of Maryland and School of Public Policy administration, the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) actively advocates for accelerated national policy on achieving US greenhouse gas emissions reductions. CGS has constructed, analyzed and presented a variety of scenarios that could bring U.S. emissions to at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Center worked to monitor the America's Pledge alongside Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) from 2017 to 2020 and has joined a new coalition -- America is All In -- as a strategic member to continue to work with U.S. and international partners to deliver analysis that informs an “all-in” ambitious and achievable U.S. climate policy.

Many UMD faculty and staff participate in national policy work with the support and acknowledgement of UMD administration, holding positions that progress the federal climate agenda. For example, the following UMD faculty and staff currently hold federal positions to support climate policy:
-- Dr. Nate Hultman; Director of the Center for Global Sustainability in the School of Public Policy is on leave, serving as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate in the U.S. Department of State.
-- Dr. Sacoby Wilson; Director of the Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health (CEEJH) in the School of Public Policy serves on the EPA Science Advisory Board and the EPA’s Environmental Justice Science Committee.
-- Dr. Marccus Hendricks; Director of the Stormwater Infrastructure and Justice Laboratory in the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation serves on the EPA Science Advisory board and the EPA’s Climate Science Committee

Other UMD faculty and staff participate in joint national research initiatives, serve on national boards, and co-author national, interdisciplinary reports with the support of UMD's administration. Their efforts contribute to climate change science and policy.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level:
The University of Maryland, organized by the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) in UMD’s School of Public Policy, had a strong presence at the 25th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC 2019). At this event, CGS helped launch the latest and most comprehensive analysis of US greenhouse gas emissions (https://spp.umd.edu/news/cop25-cgs-launches-latest-analysis-americas-pledge). CGS also had a strong presence at the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC 2021). Professors from UMD contributed to discussions on topics including methane emissions, financing sustainable development, and climate resilience (https://cgs.umd.edu/news/cop26-cgs-activities-events).

The China Program of CGS integrates scientific research, education, policy analysis, and stakeholder engagement to help understand and inform the development and deployment of China’s climate, energy, and environment strategies across international, national, and local contexts. Learn more at: https://cgs.umd.edu/research-impact/projects/china-program

CGS also provides analysis to support policy-decision making for sustainability at the global level through several other programs including Analytics for Global Climate Action (https://cgs.umd.edu/research-impact/projects/analytics-global-climate-ambition); an Initiative on Closing the Investment Gap in Sustainable Infrastructure (https://cgs.umd.edu/research-impact/projects/initiative-closing-investment-gap-sustainable-infrastructure); and others.

The University of Maryland, organized by the Office of International Affairs, is also an active member of Universitas21 (U21), a leading global network of 27 research-intensive universities, spanning 18 countries and six continents. U21 has Consultative Status with the Economic & Social Affairs Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. As such, U21 engages proactively with the UN, especially in regards to its work to achieve the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. UMD has engaged deeply in two new programs launched by U21 to support this advocacy for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: 1) RISE (Real Impact on Society and Environment) which is an international showcase of student achievement in sustainability and social innovation designed to accelerate the scale and impact of student-led projects by connecting them with a network of experts in academia and industry; and 2) Universitas21 Global Citizenship which is an online international opportunity for students across the network. Global Citizenship is an online leadership development course, delivered by Common Purpose, a global not-for-profit organization that specializes in Cross-Boundary Leadership.

A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):

A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability advocacy efforts is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.