The Dernogalizer

May 10, 2009

UMD Climate Action Plan Recommendations

Filed under: Energy/Climate,University of Maryland — Matt Dernoga @ 8:45 pm
Tags: ,

The University of Maryland has been drafting a climate action plan for the last 18 months, ever since my student group on campus UMD for Clean Energy convinced UMD’s president Dan Mote to sign the Presidents Climate Commitment.  The draft of this plan has been on the university’s sustainability website here.  While its landmark that my school is serious about drafting a plan and working on implementing it, some students have concerns regarding the plan which we wanted to address.  We got together one evening and made a list of recommendations about how we thought the plan could be made more effective, or areas that we were skeptical about.  I’m going to post these recommendations below, although in order to understand where we’re coming from it would be useful to read the draft of the plan on the sustainability website, which I gave you in the above link.   I think the main idea to take away from these recommendations and this entire plan even if you aren’t a policy junkie is that just passing an initiative or making a commitment isn’t enough.  You have to do a lot of research, planning, and commit funding in order to follow through, and it doesn’t all happen overnight.  However, if you do these things right, it can work.    


·Why are there additional strategies? Were these the ones that were politically unpalatable? They must become part of the CAP!

·What sort of contract can we do now that will reduce emissions from the Co-Gen plant? Do we have a plan for increasing efficiency and decreasing carbon intensity of the biofuel CHP plant?



·Include stronger benchmarks for assessing progress toward targets

·Work with the Office of University Relations to establish a lobbying plan aimed at ensuring the passage of ambitious state energy/climate regulations.

·Explicitly define carbon neutrality in the CAP. Clarify what criteria qualify a carbon neutral development, a carbon neutral building, a carbon neutral event, etc.

·Ensure that we receive certifiable emissions reductions.

·Prioritize the procurement of local or internal offsets.

·Add a Human Relations strategy to the CAP. Implementation and enforcement of this plan will inevitably require the creation of new staff positions in multiple departments.

Administrative Policies

·Draft and implement an environmentally/socially responsible investment policy. This policy should guide University’s endowment priorities. The University must recognize that while environmental procurement policy is a significant step, moving beyond the products themselves to assess the environmental responsibility of the producer s is ultimately the most responsible, environmentally sound practice.

·Establish best practice policies for efficiency design that go beyond LEED standards. (ie. for warehouses, small extensions to buildings)

·Negotiate the University’s contract with Pepsi Co. to eliminate sales of bottled water to Good Tydings Catering services.

Power and Operations

·Make local renewable energy procurement a top priority. The benefits of renewable locally produced electricity have ancillary benefits in buffering the university from outside price volatility.

In order to achieve 15% reductions by 2012 a much greater investment in energy efficiency is required. Consideration must be given to the public popularity and cost effectiveness of how energy efficiency upgrades.

Prioritize retrofits for University Residence Halls. 50% of undergraduates live in on campus housing that is widely known to have outdated, inefficient, and uncomfortable heating and cooling conditions. Retrofits to older residences halls could significantly improve the quality of life for on-campus students, the environmental reputation of the University, and the public image of the University (to incoming students and their parents).


·Account for food materials transport in transportation emissions.

·Re-explore the idea of a surcharge to offset air travel emissions. Commission a panel of faculty ,researchers, and administrators will to develop a means of offsetting emissions that is compatible with departmental budgets and grant funding sources

Solid Waste

·Composting should no longer be managed by Dining Services. Work with Waste Management to contract with local and reliable composting vendor.

·Make the expansion of composting to University Good Tydings Catering a top priority.

Education and Research

·Highly consider the creation of an internal committee of faculty to research and recommend embodied energy values for carbon neutral construction/development.

·Assist the Student Sustainability Council/SGA in the creation of a Student Sustainability Curriculum Advisory Committee that will lead student focus groups and commission student input

·Prioritize collaboration with undergraduate student research/consultant teams in programs such as QUEST and Gemstone

Financing the Plan

·Expand the financing plan by developing financing plans for each section of the action plan.

Immediately begin to assess the financing options for the technology and construction/conversion of the Biomass CHP plant.   Given the proportion of emissions reduction expected to come from this technology, this must be a top priority.




1 Comment »

  1. […] on the brink of implementation.  At the University of Maryland, we’ve recently had our plan finalized, and overall the University of Maryland plan on paper is stronger than the Virginia Tech plan. […]

    Pingback by Virginia Tech Climate Plan « The Dernogalizer — June 15, 2009 @ 1:56 pm | Reply

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