ORONO — The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) ranked the University of Maine among the top performing higher education institutions for sustainability. The organization uses its Sustainable Campus Index to recognize colleges and universities that excel in 17 impact areas, including air and climate, curriculum, food and dining, energy, research, waste and much more.
UMaine earned a score of 100% in the grounds category, deeming the university as one of the top 10 performers in that area for its biodiversity, campus land management and sustainable landscaping.
According to a UMaine news release, the report for UMaine noted its abstinence from using fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides on campus grounds; its decision to mulch and compost grass clippings, and the environmentally sensitive areas it houses on campus.
“I am very proud of the way UMaine manages its campus grounds,” said UMaine sustainability director Daniel Dixon, who is also a research assistant professor with the Climate Change Institute. “We have an in-vessel composting unit onsite that produces in excess of 150 metric tons of top-quality compost each year. Our grounds crew uses that compost as a soil amendment all over campus. We have lots of fields, lawns, flower beds, and unusual tree species on campus — maintaining all of that area without chemicals is no easy task!”
Higher education institutions receive top sustainability performer recognition from an AASHE analysis using its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, or STARS. The system measures achievements in five overall areas — academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership. The culmination of the association’s evaluation results in top performer designations and sustainability ratings.
UMaine earned its first STARS Silver Rating last year, and it will maintain that classification through 2022. The association awarded UMaine the Silver accolade as a result of the university recycling and composting nearly half of its waste, reducing water consumption by 20% per campus user, locally-sourcing more than 20% of all dining food purchases, implementing student life opportunities like the Green Living and Learning dorm floor, and much more.
“It is appropriate that AASHE is recognizing the ongoing campus-wide sustainability efforts at UMaine,” said Dixon. “We have been a top sustainability performer for more than a decade and will remain so with the ongoing effort and dedication of folks like our Facilities Management grounds crew.”
AASHE’s STARS program has more than 900 participants in 40 countries. It was created to provide a framework for understanding sustainability, enable meaningful comparisons, create incentives for continuous improvement, facilitate information sharing and support and build the campus sustainability community. STARS is open to all institutions of higher education; criteria that determine ratings are transparent and publicly accessible.
As a charter signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, UMaine has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and incorporate sustainability into its research, scholarship and community service operations.
About the University of Maine:
The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state's land grant, sea grant and space grant university. It is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation. As Maine's flagship public university, UMaine has a statewide mission of teaching, research and economic development, and community service. UMaine is the state's only public research university and among the most comprehensive higher education institutions in the Northeast. It attracts students from all 50 states and more than 75 countries. UMaine currently enrolls 11,741 undergraduate and graduate students who have opportunities to participate in groundbreaking research with world-class scholars. UMaine offers more than 100 degree programs through which students can earn master's, doctoral or professional science master's degrees, as well as graduate certificates. The university promotes environmental stewardship, with substantial efforts campuswide to conserve energy, recycle and adhere to green building standards in new construction. For more information about UMaine, visit umaine.edu.