Angela Ober, left, and Elizabeth Main display the Maryland Green Registery Leadership Award)

This honor from the state of Maryland recognizes institutions and organizations that have a strong commitment and programs dedicated to sustainable practices.

Photo: Angela Ober, left, and Elizabeth Main display the Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is among the 2023 recipients of the Maryland Green Registry Sustainability Leadership Awards, which are given to member organizations that show a strong commitment to sustainable practices, measurable results, and continual improvement.

The Maryland Green Registry is a free, voluntary state of Maryland program that offers tips and resources to help public and private organizations set and meet their own goals for sustainability. According to Maryland Green Registry, members have reported saving over $98 million combined annually through measures they have shared in their online member profiles.

“This recognition is a testament to the dedication and commitment of the UMB community toward more sustainable practices,” said UMB President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS. “I’m especially proud of the Office of Sustainability’s work that guides UMB to continue to make positive changes that will ensure a greener future for generations to come.”

Elizabeth Main, MPA, associate director, and Angela Ober, senior specialist, both from the Office of Sustainability, accepted the award on UMB’s behalf at the One Montgomery Green Gala at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Md., on June 22.

“As a team that was established less than two years ago, we are proud of the impact we have made at UMB in such a short time,” Main said. “We have worked on initiatives covering many different topic areas, but this award is a testament to the progress we have made on one project in particular — the campuswide self-service waste initiative.

“Based on the gains we have made in the past two years, we are excited to see what the future of sustainability at UMB holds in the next two years — and many more years ahead.”

As Main noted, the Office of Sustainability’s award nomination highlighted the self-service waste model that was rolled out in UMB buildings beginning in January 2023. Under this model, individual desk-side trash cans are removed, and students, faculty, and staff are responsible for bringing their waste to centrally located waste stations. Custodial technicians collect trash; cardboard and paper recycling; and mixed plastics, metals, and glass recycling from the common receptacles.  

The nomination explained that UMB implemented this program for many reasons, with research showing that centralized waste stations decrease waste stream contamination by encouraging people to use clearly labeled, co-located bins. According to the nomination, a reduction in purchasing plastic trash liners for individual cans also provides a great savings across the University — to date, nearly 1,200 personal trash bins have been removed from 15 campus buildings, saving an estimated 311,634 liners from being purchased, used, and burned annually in a nearby incinerator in Southwest Baltimore.

In recognizing UMB, Maryland Green Registry noted the self-service waste service model and the following:

  • Faculty, staff and student teams meet regularly on priority topics including UMB's goal of carbon neutrality goal by 2045.
  • UMB formed an energy reduction team to maximize energy savings through building automation systems.
  • The University achieved 100 percent renewable electricity through power purchase agreements and Green-e Renewable Energy Certificates.
  • UMB Launched a Green Labs Program to reduce energy, waste, and water use and offered rebates to replace old and underused.

In describing how UMB works toward continual improvement in environmental performance, the award nomination explained that in early 2021, UMB updated its core values to include Well-Being and Sustainability. That summer, the Office of Sustainability was created to provide dedicated staff to lead the University’s sustainability initiatives.

The Office of Sustainability then worked to restructure UMB’s Sustainability Committee into four topic-specific working groups: Reduction, Resilience, Education and Engagement, and Green Labs. The working groups are composed of faculty, staff, and students, and each group meets six times a year to discuss UMB’s sustainability initiatives.

In early 2022, the Office of Sustainability released a five-year Sustainability Strategic Plan encompassing topic areas such as campus planning and design, waste and procurement, and education and engagement. The office revisits the Strategic Plan at least once a year to update progress toward its goals and releases an annual sustainability impact report.

UMB also was honored for its sustainability efforts in 2022 with a Green Level People Loving and Nurturing Trees Award, which recognizes community efforts to care for trees, with awardees chosen by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Urban and Community Forestry Committee of the Maryland Forestry Boards. UMB’s commitment to urban forestry through the expansion of its urban canopy, community education, tree inventory, and care was reflected by the highest Green Level Award designation.

Additionally in 2022, UMB was awarded a Tree Campus Higher Education designation by the Arbor Day Foundation. The Tree Campus program encourages higher education institutions to contribute to the growth and health of their community tree canopies.

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