ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine recently was awarded a national environmental leadership award for its achievement in promoting, researching and teaching green energy and sustainability.
UMaine was one of three institutions to receive the Second Nature Climate Leadership Award from a consortium of 670 colleges and universities. The University of California at Irvine and the University of Maryland at College Park also were honored.
The awards were presented June 23 at the fifth annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment Summit at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
“This award means a lot to the university,” Elaine Clark, executive director of facilities, real estate and planning for UMaine, said in a press release issued Wednesday. “It really means a lot to know that our efforts have paid off and have been recognized. What set us head and shoulders above the others was renewable energy research and academic courses directed to environmental stewardship.”
Since 2005, the university has reduced its carbon footprint by more than 16 percent by modifying physical operations and energy infrastructure, according to Janet Waldron, vice president for Administration and Finance. Plans are to reduce the footprint to zero by 2040. She credited efforts by UMaine employees and students for much of the progress, which has resulted in reducing energy expenses through cost-cutting sustainability decisions.
“UMaine’s innovative academic programs in renewable energy and the environment, coupled with state-of-the-art research initiatives in climate change, land-use impacts, offshore wind and forest bioproducts, give our students the opportunity for hands-on learning in issues confronting modern society,” said Susan Hunter, UM provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are confident that these programs, along with our student innovation center, will create a dynamic community of learners focused on renewable energy, sustainability and innovation.”