USM Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Initiative


What is the System Office doing to implement this Initiative?

The University System of Maryland is focused on becoming a leader of environmental sustainability and climate change in the State.  This effort, which is highlighted in the resources available here on our USM Sustainability web pages will involve the System Office in two different, yet complementary ways.  

First, everyone at USM will play a role of some kind in energizing and supporting the climate-related efforts at our institutions whose presidents have all now signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.  This significant step requires continual and publicly-reported progress toward the ultimate goal of "climate neutrality" (i.e., zero net production of greenhouse gases).  The USM Office is poised to help provide guidance, support, training, resources and encouragement to all campuses in three general areas: (1) operational practices; (2) academic and research programs; and (3) the development of related policies at both the System and State level. 

USM Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Initiative

Second, to lead by example, System office employees will be encouraged to participate in this initiative by making environmentally friendly changes throughout the office.   Conserving energy is the single-most effective hedge against the proliferation of carbon in our atmosphere.  Plans are already underway in Elkins to reduce the use of overhead artificial lighting in favor of less-costly task lighting and enhanced use of (free) natural light.  Motion sensor switches, more efficient power supplies, and better fluorescent bulbs are also being considered.  Computers in the building are being adjusted to hibernate when not in use and employees are being encouraged to turn them off when they leave for the day.  When necessary, appliances and equipment are being replaced with energy-efficient ("Energy Star" rated) units.  All these efforts will not only reduce our "carbon footprint," but will reduce operating costs at the same time.

You will notice more recycling bins in more places throughout the Elkins Building.  We use them and encourage our guests to do the same, as recycling is extremely effective in helping reduce, not only potential carbon emissions, but the detrimental effect of solid waste in our landfills.  Water conservation through use of more efficient fixtures and systems within the building are also being considered.  As with energy, the benefits in saving water are both environmental and economic.

Finally, policies will be modified to help make it easier for staff in the building to help reduce their environmental impact while on the road.  Teleworking, enhanced use of public transportation and schedule modifications intended to reduce the climate impact of Elkins-bound commuters are being discussed.  An increased use of existing communication technologies like IVN and telephone conferencing will also help reduce the need for putting cars on the road every time there is a System-wide meeting.  Obviously steps like this require time and careful deliberation before being implemented.  What matters, however, is that we all work together to keep thinking in this direction.

Please send your ideas and comments regarding campus sustainability to