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

STARS v2.2

University of Massachusetts Amherst
PRE-2: Points of Distinction

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete N/A Ezra Small
Sustainability Manager
Physical Plant
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name of the institution’s featured sustainability program, initiative, or accomplishment:
UMass Carbon Zero

A brief description of the institution’s featured program, initiative, or accomplishment:

Launched on Earth Day 2022 by Chancellor Subbaswamy after a two years of carbon mitigation planning effort, UMass Amherst announced UMass Carbon Zero (UMCZ). To limit the dangers of climate change, our campus is pursuing an ambitious goal: We seek to power the UMass Amherst campus with 100 percent renewable energy. Our pioneering work on this complex, large-scale undertaking will have ramifications far beyond campus. UMass Amherst will be a leader of carbon mitigation efforts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts while educating the next generation of leaders in sustainability. UMass Carbon Zero will serve as a model for other large research universities as they embark upon their own energy transitions.

Since our founding in 1863 as an agricultural college, environmental consciousness has been a guiding tenet of UMass Amherst. Our campus has long been on the leading edge of sustainability development, education, and research and has always striven to use energy wisely. In the 21st century, we amplified our efforts to educate our students and the world about the greatest environmental danger of our time—the climate crisis.

We will build on decades of green energy across operations, academics and research, and fossil fuel divestment. UMass now has one of the largest solar canopy installations in New England, two battery energy storage projects, is home to the wind energy center, over 1 million square feet of LEED certified building space, and has reduced campus carbon emissions by almost 30% over the past 15 years. UMass Carbon Zero aims to again transition the campus energy system, this time to completely renewable energy using low temperature hot water distribution allowing for the elimination of steam and an end to the burning of fossil fuels through energy storage and renewable energy technologies centered on-site solar and ground-source heating and cooling and use of more electricity from the rapidly greening grid as well as accelerate energy efficiency upgrades such as the renovation of buildings to decrease energy demand and make them compatible with low-temperature hot water. UMCZ will also enhance our campus energy command center, improving our ability to track and report energy and sustainability metrics.

We will integrate our energy transition work into UMass Amherst culture, taking full advantage of the once-in-a-generation opportunity for research, education, and higher-ed leadership provided by UMass Carbon Zero. In addition to the geotechnical testing in progress and continuous planning and designs of the systems, we are working with faculty and staff to support UMass Carbon Zero high-impact learning, research, and engagement opportunities through the UMCZ Living Laboratory initiative which includes engagement programs like the Carbon Literacy Project and the Clean Energy Extension and Integrated Concentration in STEM (iCons) partnerships. We are also engaging with our utility providers to prepare for our energy transition.

This incredibly aggressive campaign will provide a new, innovative, sustainable model campus and community of the future for the Commonwealth and beyond. We are sharing lessons learned and best practices with peer institutions throughout the United States from California, Minnesota, to across New England and engaging in various learning and research communities centered around the equitable energy transition.

Which of the following impact areas does the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment most closely relate to?:
Campus Engagement

Website URL where more information about the accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment is reported (if applicable):

A photograph or document associated with the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment:

Name of a second highlighted sustainability program/initiative/accomplishment:
Offshore Wind Professional Certificate

A brief description of the second program/initiative/accomplishment:

Starting in 2020, the UMass Amherst Department of Environmental Conservation, in association with the UMass Clean Energy Extension, is offering a professional certificate in offshore wind to professionals and graduate students seeking to up-skill and broaden their knowledge to address the needs of the offshore wind industry. This certificate covers the broad range of disciplines involved in this industry, including technology and engineering, development and finance, supply chain management, marketing, environmental impact, business logistics, law, and policy. 9 credits of coursework are completed through online courses, with special events offered online as well.

This certificate is geared toward any professional engaging in the offshore wind industry, as well as graduate students in related fields:
Wind energy engineers
Project developers
Supply chain managers
Energy marketers
Environmental scientists
Policy professionals

Diversity and Accessibility:
The Clean Energy Extension – with support from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center – is offering several full-tuition scholarships for CEE’s Offshore Wind Professional Certificate program. The scholarship value is approximately $6,000, which covers the full cost of the three courses. This scholarship will enable students from diverse backgrounds to successfully prepare for and join the offshore wind industry.

In addition to the tuition scholarships, recipients will receive (1) professional development and networking support; (2) direct, person-to-person introductions to hiring offshore wind companies and organizations; and (3) a non-curriculum stipend to help address specific personal and professional barriers on an as-needed basis.

Which impact areas does the second program/initiative/accomplishment most closely relate to?:

Website URL where more information about the second program/initiative/accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the second program/initiative/accomplishment is reported (if applicable):

A photograph or document associated with the second program/initiative/accomplishment:

Name of a third highlighted program/initiative/accomplishment:
Sustainability Strategy Working Group (SSWG)

A brief description of the third program/initiative/accomplishment:

The University of Massachusetts formed a cross-campus Sustainability Strategy Working Group (SSWG) to help develop a unifying vision of sustainability research, education, and engagement for UMass. This working group includes more than 30 faculty members from across all nine academic colleges, with UMass Libraries and the Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (CAFE) also represented. The working group is transdisciplinary in nature and collaborative in practice. The working group is charged with defining the process for bringing the broad range of sustainability activities under the School of Earth & Sustainability umbrella and leading a collaborative, cross-campus engagement process for broad input.

Which impact areas does the third program/initiative/accomplishment most closely relate to?:
Campus Engagement
Coordination & Planning

Website URL where more information about the third program/initiative/accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the third program/initiative/accomplishment is reported (if applicable):

A photograph or document associated with the third program/initiative/accomplishment:

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.