News 2020: For the 9th year in a row, UMass Dartmouth named one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges
For the 9th year in a row, UMass Dartmouth named one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges

The award is part of the Princeton Review’s latest rankings based on institutional sustainability efforts

Student walking on campus in spring

UMass Dartmouth is once again of the nation's most environmentally responsible colleges according to the recently published, The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2021 Edition. The Princeton Review surveyed administrators at 695 colleges in 2019-20 about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability. Editors analyzed more than 25 survey data points in the process of choosing schools for the guide.

UMass Dartmouth has made the prestigious list for nine straight years.

“UMass Dartmouth continues our efforts to support a broad portfolio of sustainable activities across the campus. We are honored to be recognized for the 9th year running and invite any prospective student who wants to attend a campus that is leading by example on sustainability, to check us out,” said Jamie Jacquart, Assistant Director of Campus Sustainability and Residential Initiatives.

UMass Dartmouth has increased its focus on making campus a more sustainable place.

In 2020, the University was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) through its Leading by Example (LBE) program. The grant will fund the development of a Comprehensive Energy Master Plan to help understand the investment and implementation requirements to reach a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 80% by 2050 and pursue a more aggressive implementation strategy that targets carbon neutrality by 2030.

UMass Dartmouth also announced a partnership with the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative and has committed to purchase 2 electric vehicles by 2021. In doing so, the University joined nearly a dozen universities and colleges and 225 fleets around the country pledging to purchase almost 3,800 electric vehicles.

To aid in sustainability efforts, the UMass Dartmouth Biology Department conducted the Low Mowing Research Project. Undergraduate students studied plant biodiversity, soil moisture content, and compression on campus to determine that the no-mow (defined as mowed annually to prevent tree growth) areas were cooler in the summer, held a greater level of moisture (making them a lower risk for damaging effects from droughts), had a greater level of biodiversity (making them less at risk to blights or fungus that attacks a single species) and contained a greater level of insect life with a decrease in the number of mosquitos. The pilot project was designed to test the idea of “defining beauty differently” as the push for transitioning seldom-used space back to natural prairie grass. The University currently mows approximately 5,200 acres of grass a year. Allowing this grass to stay at its natural length would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"We strongly recommend UMass Dartmouth to students who want to study and live at a green college," said Rob Franek, The Princeton Review's Editor-in-Chief. "Each and every one of the outstanding colleges in this edition of our guide offers both excellent academics and exemplary evidence of environmental commitment.”

In 2019, UMass Dartmouth signed the “Commitment Towards a goal of Zero Carbon Emissions” compact. This aspirational commitment sets a goal of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2030, or alternatively 2050 (the standard now being considered for Massachusetts), and preparing students to live and work sustainably, conducting research that encourages climate sustainability and resilience, and keeping the University community fully informed regarding progress related to environmental sustainability and climate resilience.

The university also launched the largest public battery storage system in Massachusetts at that time. The 520-kW system, in combination with other measures, will reduce the electrical load from the grid during peak usage times. The new battery was the latest in a series of campus sustainability infrastructure upgrades, including a 1.6MWh Co-generation plant and 369 kW of solar photovoltaic panels.

In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named UMass Dartmouth as the "College/University Partner of the Year" for the 2018 national WasteWise awards. The UMass Dartmouth Dining Services team was recognized for its proper management of purchasing and food production to minimize leftovers. Dining Services also donates unsold, prepared packaged foods weekly during the school year to local liturgical ministries serving the homeless. In 2017, Dining Services unveiled a new program called Meals with Dignity, in which student volunteers work to package meals made with wholesome, leftover food from the dining hall on a biweekly basis and to deliver meals to the on-campus food pantry.