Addressing sustainability is essential because healthy water, healthy air, and healthy ecosystems are foundational to a thriving society.
Higher education institutions, such as the University of Maryland, are in a unique position to advance sustainability solutions, awareness, and action. Over 50,000 students, faculty and staff live, work, research and study on campus each day. From energy and water use to transportation and food services, UMD has continual opportunities to cultivate a culture of sustainability while conducting critical research that guides sustainability policy and innovation here and around the world.
UMD strives to empower students, faculty and staff to take sustainable steps by bringing local and global systems into balance, redesigning processes to conserve resources, and experimenting with novel sustainable practices. We recognize the power of higher education to influence broader change, empower youth with skills and understanding, and integrate change by serving as an immersive learning lab for education, research, experience and civic engagement. UMD aims to serve as an example for society to facilitate the crucial cultural, functional, and technological transitions to a world that supports everyone.
The Office of Sustainability compiles and communicates sustainability efforts from across campus and supports the SustainableUMD network. SustainableUMD refers to the campus-wide commitment to environmental responsibility.
Every person contributes to our sustainability impacts and every aspect of campus impacts the SustainableUMD mission. Regardless of where on campus you work, study, or live, you can help advance sustainability (link to get involved). By integrating academics, research, operations, and student engagement, our campus community can model and leverage broader change. Within our campus, we are innovating sustainable solutions, immersing students in a healthy and inspiring environment, and modeling a demonstration for more green communities.
The University of Maryland's Sustainability Council has identified six main goals for campus sustainability, focusing on emissions, smart growth, waste, water, education, and local and global impact.
In 2021, UMD’s president pledged that the university would achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, 35 years sooner than the goal first set in 2005. UMD’s Climate Action Plan identifies, tracks, and reports on strategies to avoid, reduce and offset those emissions. In total measures to reduce greenhouse gas pollution are also expected to save energy and resources, including money.
What is Sustainability:
“Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.”
-US Environmental Protection Agency
The practice of sustainability recognizes interconnections between pressures that shape human behaviors and decisions; it requires a holistic approach to creating and maintaining human systems of stewarding natural resources.