Sustainability at the University of Maryland


In 1969, singer Joni Mitchell lamented, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot." Today, the University of Maryland is displacing parking lots and planting trees and restoring landscapes. The exchange may not restore paradise, but it is a crucial step in the University's efforts to be a better environmental steward. Recognized accomplishments from the improvements made to the University resulted in a "Campus Greening through Stewardship Award," from the National Wildlife Federation. From 2000 to the present, 29 projects (16 accomplished, 5 in design, and 8 in the planning stage) have addressed the environmental goals and objectives of the Facilities Master Plan. These are a few of those projects:

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Southwest Campus District

An extended network of Landscape Open Spaces in the Southwest Campus District began with the replacement of staff and faculty parking lots M and U4 near Van Munching Hall. This transformation from 30,492 square feet of impermeable pavement to green lawns and open space is the armature for multiple "in-fill" academic buildings, the Mowatt Lane Parking Garage (1,700+ spaces), and student residential facilities (6 buildings and 1,825 total beds). According to the Master Plan, within 20 years, all parking in the southwest portion of campus will be in garages and most of the old lots will be replaced with a multi-layered network of places linking new academic facilities and student life.

North Gate Park

North Gate Park is a natural retreat adjacent to the Paint Branch and the University's main entrance at US Route 1. Landscape architecture students, led by Professor Jack Sullivan, helped design North Gate Park. Shrubs and flower plantings pay respect to the University's historical landscape with an orchard, native grasses, a wildflower meadow, a restored forested stream buffer, and a future planned rain garden to filter storm water runoff. As called for in the University's Facilities Master Plan, the park also emphasizes walking, biking, and alternate transportation. There is a bus shelter, a lighted path for pedestrians and cyclists, and a bridge to connect everyone to the heart of campus.

Northeast Campus District

New open spaces in the Northeast Campus District have transformed the area once referred to as the "industrial heartland" of campus, the dense cluster of engineering, science, and mathematics buildings. In addition to the "urbane" Kim Engineering Plaza and the plaza adjacent to the Computer Science Instructional Center, the Chemistry Courtyard—space created by the completion of a new wing in 2003 features ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers, and the perfect lawn for an impromptu outdoor class or lunch. The courtyard incorporates brick walkways and patio outside the new Atrium. This combined open space network shifts pedestrian routes closer to classroom buildings and replaces parking lots that once served as unsightly shortcuts.