Sustainability Initiatives


In 2007, President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, became a signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.  This action committed the University to develop a plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible, to immediately initiate a number of tangible actions to reduce greenhouse gases, and to make our action plan, inventory, and periodic progress reports publically available. 

To provide advice and expertise on ways to achieve the Commitment goals and to effectively engage the entire campus community in this effort, President Hrabowski formed the Climate Change Task Force.  The Task Force provides oversight and guidance in meeting the requirements of the Climate Commitment.  Currently, it advises the President on specific interim actions and goals, and establishes mechanisms for regular communications to the campus community.  One of the first actions of the Climate Change Task Force was to complete a comprehensive inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions.  The Task Force also submitted UMBC’s Climate Action Plan on September 15, 2009 to the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment.  For a copy of the UMBC Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 2007 and 2008 go to  and click on Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

UMBC’s Climate Action Plan involves changes to practices, programs, and policies related to energy conservation, recycling and waste management, transportation, facilities operations, and construction.

Energy Conservation

UMBC has been a leader in developing and implementing plans, strategies and upgrades to conserve energy use on the campus and to operate in a more sustainable and efficient way.  Some of the initiatives completed or underway include:

  • Upgrading heating/cooling systems for campus by retrofitting the Central Plant with high-efficiency boilers, chillers, cooling towers and water pumps.
  • Installing a thermal storage system (a one million gallon chilled water tank) to supplement the Central Plant.  Charging the tank at night reduces the load on the electric grid during peak daytime hours.
  • Purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to support development and generation of renewable energy and beginning in May 2008 committing to purchasing nearly 20% of campus’ electricity from renewable sources.
  • Upgrading heating/cooling systems for student housing by replacing stand-alone units with Satellite Plant utilizing high-efficiency boilers, chillers and pumps.
  • Working with an approved Energy Services Company (ESCO) to perform an energy audit for the campus to identify and quantify additional energy saving opportunities.
  • Upgrading exterior lighting for roadways, walkways and parking lots to high-efficiency LED lamps.
  • Upgrading interior lighting from T12 to more efficient T8 and T5 ballasts and lamps, and replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps.
  • Incorporating a fleet of electric vehicles and compressed natural gas vehicles to perform many maintenance tasks around campus, reducing fuel consumption. 


UMBC has a comprehensive, campus-wide recycling program.  Currently paper, plastic, and aluminum are collected separately and recycled.  A program for recycling electronics and other office machines has been developed.  UMBC also donates various office/classroom furniture and athletic equipment to charitable organizations.  The campus purchases recycled paper products, cleaning products that are Green Seal certified and Energy Star appliances.  In addition, UMBC participates in the annual Recyclemania program. 

Green Buildings

UMBC is committed to sustainable construction and renovation.  All new buildings will have a minimum of a LEED Silver rating, including that of the Performing Arts and Humanities Building for which design is complete and the Patapsco Hall Addition, currently under design.  The sustainable design encompasses not just the building systems and materials, but extends to the site and how rain water is treated and stored.  While the University will seek comparable LEED certification for all of its major building renovations, smaller renovation projects have integrated sustainable practices such as installing Energy Star roofing systems and replacing equipment with Energy Star rated products.

Environmental Awareness

To support UMBC’s commitments to a more sustainable campus the University has developed various programs to enhance student, staff and faculty awareness of energy-saving opportunities and behaviors on campus and at home, to complement recycling programs and more efficient buildings.  To further the study of our environment the University has developed degree programs in Biological Sciences Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Geography and Environmental Systems, Physics and Public Policy among others that focus on the natural environment and sustainability.