Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 75.29
Liaison Ezra Small
Submission Date Feb. 17, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of Massachusetts Amherst
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Ezra Small
Sustainability Manager
Physical Plant
"---" 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:

UMass Amherst engages in local policy in many ways, but most tangential is the Town-Gown Steering Committee. In recognition of the symbiotic relationship between the University of Massachusetts and the Town of Amherst, both entities have agreed to work together towards a shared plan for housing and economic development issues. To advance this mission, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Amherst Town Manager John Musante have convened a town-gown steering committee. The Town-Gown Steering Committee’s charge is to develop a Request for Proposals to solicit, hire, and work with a Consultant to study fundamental aspects of the shared and distinct interests of the University and the Town of Amherst, including but not limited to:
1. A review of the Amherst Master Plan and the UMass Campus Master Plan for mutually-reinforcing aspects, conflicts, and opportunities, including with regard to land use and future development.
2. A review of ‘best practices’ for college towns across the nation.
3. Examination of the Housing Production Plan, Housing Market Study, and UMass housing policies in the context of changing community and UMass populations and demographic trends.
4. Review of existing economic Town/UMass development goals, policies and issues.
5. Current and proposed transportation and circulation studies and plans.

Link: https://www.umass.edu/town-gown/about

Coming directly out of the Town-Gown Steering Committee is UTAC. The University-Town of Amherst Collaborative (UTAC) is a joint initiative of the Town of Amherst and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It is made up of Amherst residents, UMass Amherst town and university officials, and UMass Amherst students. UTAC is an advisory council to the town manager and chancellor which provides leadership and ideas, while building support for future joint endeavors. These include, but are not limited to, identifying sites for undergraduate mixed-use development, jointly pursuing public-private partnerships, and helping to create an anchor strategy for the university that embraces the town and fosters economic success.

Two recent sustainability related town/gown initiatives that the town and campus have collaborated on were the 2016 and 2022 summer drought water conservation efforts which resulted in the Town instituting mandatory water usage bans in 2016, as well as the UMass Carbon Zero geothermal testing projects which saw UMass hosting a number of town officials on campus to see the geothermal test boring take place in order to help the town advocate and understand this renewable energy source for potential town climate action efforts which may include new construction energy policies in the near future.

Link: https://www.umass.edu/utac/about

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:

1. The UMass Clean Energy Extension (CEE) supported MA State Senator Jo Comerford (Massachusetts Senate Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester Counties) to prepare an amendment to the state Senate Climate Bill S2819 to include a provision to direct the Department of Energy Resources to include an incentive in its solar program to encourage solar developers to establish Pollinator Friendly Solar PV landscaping around ground mounted solar arrays. The amendment builds on the Clean Energy Extension’s Pollinator Friendly Solar PV Certification program that it designed and implements, and which is designated in the state regulations as the primary means for a project to qualify for the incentive.

The Clean Energy Extension also provides the state Department of Energy Resources with review of its pre-determination applications for all dual-use (or agrivoltaics) projects that submit applications for the state solar program. The Clean Energy Extension partners with University Extension colleagues with applicable agricultural experience to provide detailed review of applicants conformance with the state regulation and guideline and for the efficacy of the proposed farm plan within the solar field.


2. UMass Amherst is an active member of the Massachusetts Leading By Example (LBE) Council. LBE works collaboratively with state agencies and public colleges and universities to advance clean energy and sustainable practices that reduce the environmental impacts of state government operations. LBE serves as a trusted resource and helps transform policy into action through strategic partnerships, technical assistance, grant funding and nation-leading best practices. The LBE Council provides public policy guidance and guides the development of legislation and ordinances including, but not limited to, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, green buildings, and sustainable transportation in Massachusetts.

Links: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/leading-by-example

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:

1. On the federal front the campus has taken a leadership role in the Dept. of the Interior designed Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASCs). UMA houses one of the 9 designated regional centers across the country. Our advocacy evolved from first through playing some defense during the Trump administration as the President was trying to eliminate their existence in his budget recommendations to greatly expanding the budget (up over 40% since the Biden Administration was sworn in). The campus has played a key role coordinating across the CASCs and organizing political attention and unified budget requests working with the Dept. of the Interior team and has successfully advocated for more research into climate adaptation and mitigation across the country.

Link: https://necasc.umass.edu

2. Throughout 2021 and 2022, the UMass Amherst Public Relations team and Chancellors Office worked with representatives from the Massachusetts congressional delegation - U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Congressman Jim McGovern, to advocate for the passage of the 2022 omnibus spending bill, which included nearly $2 million in congressionally directed funding to support projects for the recently launched Energy Transition Institute and in the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS). The funding, championed by Markey, McGovern and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, was included in the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill recently signed into law by President Joe Biden. The funding advances important diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, including CICS scholarships and fellowships for women and underrepresented minorities, and funding to place equity and justice in the vanguard of a clean energy system. The university’s Energy Transition Institute (ETI) received $995,000 to bolster three of its main objectives: to support community-engaged research to develop an equitable energy transition framework in Massachusetts’ gateway cities; to fund graduate and post-graduate energy transition research fellowships; and to support research and development of innovative low-cost methods for moving electricity distribution lines and broadband cables underground.

Link: https://www.umass.edu/news/article/sen-markey-rep-mcgovern-visit-umass-celebrate-2-million-new-federal-investments-key

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:

1. 50x30
UMass Amherst faculty, specifically professor of geosciences Julie Brigham-Grette, played a key roll in the launch of the “50x30” (Fifty by Thirty) Coalition, urging governments to prevent dire global consequences from the Earth’s cryosphere (snow and ice) regions due to overshoot of the Paris climate goals, just as the U.S.-hosted Climate Summit began last April, 2022.

Called “50x30” (Fifty by Thirty) to reflect the call for 50% emissions reductions by the year 2030, the group partners with those few governments that meet the 50% bar. It includes leading science institutions from around the world that focus on cryosphere and climate impacts.

Founding scientific institutions include UMass Amherst (U.S); the 130,000-member American Geophysical Union (AGU); Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand); Bolin Centre/Stockholm University (Sweden); Bristol University Glaciology Centre (UK); Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London (UK); Climate Analytics (Germany); and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (U.S.). Climate Analytics has identified the “1.5°C consistent” pathways needed to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, analyzing current country commitments. The International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI, Sweden/U.S.) provides administrative support.

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said, “The University of Massachusetts Amherst is excited to be a founding member of the 50x30 Coalition, and we join with other member institutions to lead the way in addressing the challenges of global climate change. We contribute to the effort by implementing campus-based sustainable solutions, including transitioning our energy systems to solar and natural gas. The university now continues its commitment with a goal of reaching the next level of net-zero emissions in the coming decade. As we move forward, we strongly urge others to join the coalition and participate in addressing the critical challenges before us.”



2. Okanagan Charter
In October, 2022 UMass Amherst Chancellor conducted a formal signing ceremony as it joined the Okanagan Charter, an international network of colleges and universities dedicated to embedding health into all aspects of campus culture and to lead health promotion action and collaboration locally and globally.

UMass Amherst’s commitment focuses on four areas: health and wellness for students, faculty and staff; sustainability; diversity, equity and inclusion; and the built environment.


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):

Not applicable

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

Additional documentation to support 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.