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Four years ago, UMD had no sustainability plan.
“When I got here, we didn’t know what our green house gas emissions were. We didn’t know our carbon footprint,” said Mindy Granley, the sustainability coordinator on campus.
Granley grew up north of Duluth and fell in love with the city when she attended UMD. She graduated in 1998 with a BS in Geology, with a focus on hydrogeology/environmental geology. She knew she eventually wanted to settle here and after she received her master degree in water resource science from the U of M Twin Cities, she moved back to Duluth.
Now, after years of hard work by Granley and the campus, UMD is being recognized as a green campus by the Princeton Review. The Princeton Review has been reviewing and ranking campuses in terms of sustainability for three years. This is the first year that they have teamed up with the United States Green Building Council to compile a Guide to 311 Green Colleges that “demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation.”
Each year, the Princeton Review sends out a survey. “We fill it out, and write down what our campus is doing in energy, water conservation, land use, education, anything related to sustainability,” she said.
UMD's Bagley Nature Classroom
Two big things that were new to this year’s survey compared to previous surveys were the solar panels on the Malosky Stadium and the Bagley Nature classroom. The classroom is unique in many ways. It is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum certified and energy efficient. It has solar panels on the roof and 16 inches of insulation. “The classroom is a showpiece of sustainability,” Granley said.
Granley wants students to understand that buildings can be environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and cost efficient. “Some of these things that we do aren’t just good for operations and the environment, they’re also a good learning opportunity,” she said.
Sustainability is one of the core values outlined in UMD’s new Strategic Plan, championed by Chancellor Lendley “Lynn” Black. The plan strives to “balance current environmental, economic, and social needs with those of future generations.” This is precisely what Granley is working on.
“Part of sustainability is being able to keep operating and to keep going in the long term. By saving energy and doing the right thing on the environment, you can actually save money over time,” she said.
A new project on campus working toward this goal is the UMD Refrigerator Exchange. The Exchange helps departments replace refrigerators and freezers in departments that use them mainly for research. The sustainability office will pay half to upgrade to an energy efficient cooler or freezer.
A visible commitment to sustainability that will be seen across campus this summer will be a series of edible gardens, which will be planted and cared for by volunteers from many departments across campus.
For more information about UMD’s sustainability program, visit the UMD Sustainability homepage.
Written by Abby Schoenecker
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