Sustainability at the University of Maryland

UMD Sustainability Snapshot

At the University of Maryland, students have outstanding opportunities through coursework, research, and community involvement to learn about and address sustainability challenges, be they related to energy, climate change, poverty, public health, or the economy. Researchers across campus are applying cutting edge technologies to environmental problems of all scales and are investigating solutions to society’s most vexing social and economic problems. Many staff and administrators are working diligently to green their departments by reducing material consumption, increasing recycling rates, reducing energy use, and encouraging other responsible behaviors. Below are some brief highlights of sustainability efforts at the University of Maryland:

Awards and Recognition




  • 115 professors have integrated sustainability into more than 120 courses through the Chesapeake Project, a two-day workshop and faculty learning community.
  • Student Sustainability Advisors teach a one-hour lesson on sustainability to first year students.



Green Buildings


  • All cleaning products used by Residential Facilities are Green Seal Certified.
  • UMD Housekeeping received Green Seal Certification in 2012.
  • Facilities Management uses many Green Seal products in academic and administrative buildings.



  • The Campus Master Plan includes guidelines to preserve the natural environment, reduce the number of cars on campus, reinforce the campus’ role as a good neighbor in the larger community, and enhance the campus with open spaces and vistas of green lawns and trees.
  • The 2011-2030 Facilities Master Plan delineates the university's ever-growing commitment to sustainability. The plan involves the Purple Line that will cut through or near campus.

Re-Use, Recycling, and Waste

  • UMD achieved its Fearless Goal of a 75% recycling rate by the end of 2013.
  • The campus recycling rate increased from 17 percent in 2003 to 64 percent in 2011.
  • The "Can the Can" program is replacing desk-side trashcans with new mini-bins, which encourage greater recycling rates.
  • All pre- and post-consumer food waste in resident dining halls and at the Stamp Student Union is composted.


  • Two different 10,000 gallon rain water cisterns collect stormwater under Washington Quad and the Knight Hall Courtyard. Stored water is used for irrigation.
  • An extensive green roof absorbs stormwater that falls on Cumberland Hall.
  • Multiple Low Impact Developments around campus help control the flow of stormwater from campus, protecting ecosystems and human developments downstream of the campus.

Student Activism

  • In April 2007, university students overwhelmingly voted in favor of increasing student fees by $12 per year in order to create the University Sustainability Fund. The Fund now offers more than $300,000 in grants each year to students, faculty, and staff to implement sustainability projects on campus or in the neighboring community.
  • In October 2009, the university was named "America's Greenest Campus" by Climate Culture for having the largest number of campus community members register on the site and calculate their carbon footprint. Student organizers earned a $5,000 prize to support sustainability on campus.
  • Many student organizations focus on enhancing sustainability on campus, in local communities, or around the world.


  • Shuttle-UM ridership increased from 1.5 million rides in 2005 to 3.4 million rides in 2012.
  • The Department of Transportation Services offers "Green Permits" at a 20 percent discount to persons who commute to campus in cars that meet EPA’s Green Vehicle Standard.

Water Conservation

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