It is important to note that this study is just a start. The plan should not be considered a shovel-ready design. Budget estimates are indeed estimates and should not be considered a formal request for funding. While this plan does describe a specific set of solutions, assumptions, and timing, it is expected that details will change during further planning implementation.

This plan is intended to guide the strategic direction and decision-making processes of campus leadership that will affect UMA’s operations and infrastructure for decades to come. Implementing this plan will require additional technical, financial, operational, and organizational detailed planning.

The results of this study show that it is technically feasible for UMA to achieve 100% reliance on renewable energy sources for heating, cooling, and electricity usage on campus by 2032 with the following five actions:

  1. Transition Away from Steam by installing a LTHW distribution system.
  2. Stop Burning Fossil Fuels which is enabled by the transition to LTHW which doesn’t require combustion.
  3. Accelerate Energy Efficiency starting with “go-fast” thermal opportunities, like air-sealing, insulation and building heat-recovery projects.
  4. Expand the Use of Renewable Energy by doubling onsite solar, massively expanding renewable thermal technologies like ground-source heating and solar thermal and procuring 100% of grid purchases from renewable sources.
  5. Integrate the Transition into UMass Amherst Culture by seizing a once-in-a-generation opportunity for research, education and higher-ed leadership aligned with the strategic motto: “Be Revolutionary”.


This transition will require bold leadership and coordinated planning starting in 2021. Implementation will require sustained effort through 2032 and beyond. The investment in this new energy platform will be economically beneficial to UMA in the long term. The renewed energy system will power the campus for the next 100 years of graduating classes with 100% renewable energy and will position UMA as a leader in higher education and the Commonwealth.


Next Steps

Assuming UMA leadership endorses the core recommendations and broad strategic direction outlined by this plan, there are a series of next steps required for UMA to put this conceptual plan into action. These steps focus on work expected in 2021 and 2022.

  1. Engineering / Technical Services

    • Energy Efficiency

      1. Identification of “Go-fast” thermal efficiency projects by building.
      2. Implementation of the projects identified in the current MOU with Eversource.
      3. Identification of electricity focused projects not already identified in the current Eversource MOU.
      4. Identification of additional funding sources and/or revolving fund.
    • LTHW Conversion / Chilled Water Expansion

      1. Creation of energy load profiles for buildings and clusters of buildings focused on those likely to be included in Phase 1 and 2.
      2. Detailed analysis of required building conversions and related piping upgrades.
      3. Detailed analysis of supply system additions or upgrades.
      4. Detailed construction and life-cycle costs estimates.
    • Ground-source Heating and Cooling

      1. Geothermal test bores in proposed location for GHX heat-exchangers.
      2. Detailed construction and life-cycle costs estimates.
  2. Funding / Financial Planning

    • Energy Efficiency:

      1. Monitoring and verification of the projects in the current MOU with Eversource.
      2. Identification of additional funding sources and/or a revolving fund, especially for projects not funded through the electricity focused Eversource MOU.
      3. Exploration of third-party financing options.
    • Energy Transition Projects (LTHW, Chilled Water Expansion, GHX etc.)

      1. Integration of Energy Transition projects into UMA's regular current capital planning processes with a focus on Phase 1 & 2 projects.
      2. Identification of all potential capital funding sources including utilities, state sources, non-profit grants, donors, and third-party financing options.
  3. Policy Alignment

    • Align the carbon mitigation planning with UMA’s institution-wide strategic planning and adaptation to current events, including integration with state and national carbon mitigation efforts.
    • Implement the carbon mitigation policy recommendations of emission tracking and a cap on carbon emissions. Update building renovations and new-construction standards and work cross-campus and cross-agencies to ensure carbon mitigation implementation.
  4. Research and curriculum integration

    • Align CMP implementation with UMA academic programs and create specific living laboratory opportunities for students across disciplines to learn and contribute to the carbon mitigation implementation.
    • Further integrate ongoing research with on-campus operations to support carbon mitigation implementation, identify research opportunities and collaborate with ongoing research collaborations such as the Energy Transition Institute.
  5. Community engagement:

    • Develop a 5-year campus-wide engagement plan for carbon mitigation action that aligns with decarbonization implementation. The engagement includes institution, state, and peer institution collaboration, understanding, and support for UMA carbon mitigation and ways to identify impact and co-benefits beyond carbon mitigation.
    • Assess the broader social impact of the CMP implementation and align the carbon mitigation planning and implementation with community equity goals, policies, and practices.

This CMP provides an overall framework, and UMA now needs to commit to the framework and take the next steps is to integrate the CMP recommendations into planned capital improvements and planned facilities upgrades.