UMass functions like a small city and it has become a model for sustainability, bringing it into every part of student life!
UMass prides itself on being a sustainable campus, and even has an entire school dedicated to it. Located within the College of Natural Sciences, the School of Earth and Sustainability is home to some of the 25 sustainability-related majors offered on campus. With more than 300 classes related to sustainability, students can take everything from Accounting to Building Construction Technology classes that are related to being green.
The four permaculture gardens on the UMass campus provide fresh, organic produce to the UMass Dining Commons while also serving as a model for how food can be grown in unexpected places. The gardens are maintained by staff, students, and volunteers, and are an integral part of the UMass Dining system, which is the largest college dining system in the country that is self operating. UMass Dining also helps collect some of the 1,400 tons of food waste that is composted every year at UMass. A large part of this is the prominence of compost and recycling bins all over campus — you'll never see a lone trashcan here!
In addition, UMass uses solar panels to generate green energy. The Commonwealth Honors College is just one example of a building harnessing the power of the sun. There is also the Central Heating Plant, which provides 100% of heat, and 70% of electricity, to campus.
>On a smaller scale, UMass promotes individual sustainability with its transportation options; the PVTA buses that take students around campus are hybrid-electric. If that';s not your thing, UMass also offers a bike-share program for students who are interested in using a bike for the semester!
UMass has a history of impactful student-led sustainability movements. Notably, in 2016 UMass Amherst became the first major public university to divest from fossil fuels. This move was in part a response to a petition by UMass student group UMass Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign. One of the students involved, Varshini Prakash ’15, went on to co-found the Sunrise Movement, which works to stop climate change and create sustainable jobs in the process.
At UMass, we learn how to work within a community to achieve goals, so it's easy to see why being green is like second nature for so many students!