UMBC recognizes that sustainability is about considering the complex and integrated nature of the variety of natural and human systems that maintain a thriving world. Facilities Management (FM) is a system that supports all other systems. The optimal impacts of sustainability are long-term and belong in a strategic plan, and the best facility management organizations are already linking facility management strategy and sustainability tenets to those of the overall entity. UMBC’s Office of Sustainability is located within Facilities Management and ensures that multiple campus stakeholders are engaged in decisions about climate adaptation, energy efficiency, sustainable development, stormwater, and green growth.
What are some actions taken by Facilities Management to make UMBC a more sustainable campus?
- Upgrades to our building systems: numerous efficiency projects and initiatives have been implemented across campus.
- Maintain energy-efficient standards: through the use of energy-saving standards and energy-conservation guidelines.
- Utilize renewable energy sources: each year UMBC increases its use of renewable energy sources.
- Promote Responsible Waste Management: working to reduce waste generation, and increase recycling and composting.
- Build more sustainable buildings: all new construction is designed to meet, or exceed, LEED Silver Standards. Explore UMBC’s green buildings on the virtual green building tour.
- Support sustainability education and engagement: numerous new tools, data sources, and resources are available for you to explore how FM is helping to reduce UMBC’s environmental footprint
- Planning for Climate Action: FM is a key stakeholder on campus for planning and implementing strategies related to UMBC’s Climate Action Plan (CAP).
Energy and Utility Management
Facilities Management implements a prioritized, cost-effective approach for managing energy and utilities with goals of improving reliability, saving energy, and reducing the university’s carbon footprint.
Facilities Management is responsible for managing and maintaining all aspects of UMBC’s energy and utility infrastructure, including:
• Procurement of energy resources (electricity, natural gas, water & sewer services, and emergency fuel oil)
• Distribution of electricity, natural gas, and water services throughout the campus
• Generation and distribution of chilled water for campus cooling and hot water for campus heating
• Operation and control of HVAC systems
• Maintenance of associated infrastructure (transformers, switchgear, wiring, chillers, boilers, pumps, piping, valves, fans, ductwork, etc.)
• Specialized engineering and technical support for construction projects
Conservation – maybe the most overlooked and under-appreciated green strategy
The greenest kilowatt is not from wind or solar, but it’s the electricity not used. Conservation is the number one way to save energy and reduce carbon footprint.
What UMBC has done
Conservation is not glamorous, and most conservation efforts are invisible. Few ever see the high-efficiency chillers, boilers, pumps, and HVAC systems that have been installed to provide the air conditioning and heating for the campus. This equipment is safely out-of-site in mechanical rooms, underground, on rooftops, or in ceilings. Even in the rare circumstance when such equipment is prominently visible, like the 60-foot tall tank between the Central Plant and Walker Avenue Garage, few know what it is. But even the thermal energy storage unit is cool.
What you can do
Some of the simplest and most cost-effective conservation is accomplished through conscientious behavior. To conserve energy, save money, and reduce UMBC’s carbon footprint, follow these simple guidelines.
- Thermostats on centrally controlled buildings are set by Facilities Management. In instances where the thermostats are set by the user to maintain during occupied periods no more than 70o F in the heating season and no less than 76o F in the cooling season. These settings maintain a balance between occupant comfort and energy conservation.
- Windows and exterior doors should remain closed to prevent loss of conditioned air. It is impossible to maintain controlled conditions if windows are open in offices or classrooms.
- Space heaters are not allowed on campus unless provided by Facilities Management’s HVAC Shop.
- Turn off lights when exiting rooms.
- Turn off lights whenever daylight provides sufficient lighting.
- On hot, sunny days, partially close the shades or blinds to reduce the solar heat gain in the room.
- Use task lighting, increasing the light only on the area where you are working.
UMBC’s Current Renewable Energy Strategies
In 2020, UMBC released the updated Climate Action Plan (CAP), detailing the university’s plans for incorporating additional renewable energy technologies as UMBC progresses towards a net-zero energy future.
Current Renewable Energy Strategies include:
- Approximately 20% of UMBC’s total annual electricity is from Maryland’s Conowingo Hydroelectric Plant
- An aggressive timeline for increasing the annual amount of renewable energy certificates (RECs) procured by UMBC
- 9 kW solar array on the roof of the Clean Energy Technology Incubator (CETI) building at bwtech @ UMBC South
- On-going feasibility assessments of campus projects for the inclusion of additional renewable energy capacity
UMBC’s Legacy of Renewable Energy
One of the possible tangible actions listed in the Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) is, “Within one year of signing this document, begin purchasing or producing at least 15% of our institution’s electricity consumption from renewable sources.” In May 2008, nine months after signing the ACUPCC, UMBC began getting 20% of its electricity from renewable sources, primarily Maryland’s Conowingo Hydroelectric Plant. Since then, UMBC has remained committed to getting 20% of its electricity from renewable sources. UMBC now gets most of its renewable energy from regional wind and solar projects.
UMBC was involved in the State’s collaborative process for “Generating Clean Horizons,” a first-of-its-kind initiative to spur large-scale renewable projects in/near Maryland. As a result of a competitive bid, the awarded projects include land-based wind and solar PV. Additional projects, such as energy from poultry litter and off-shore wind are under consideration. Renewable energy production from Clean Horizons began in 2011 and is ramping toward full production.
UMBC is buying Clean Horizons renewable energy via Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), which include the electricity commodity and the associated Renewable Energy Credits (certificates). By making a long-term commitment to buy Clean Horizons renewable energy, UMBC essentially co-sponsored the development of several large-scale projects. UMBC’s renewable energy is being produced where it is most physically suitable (e.g., there is far more wind in the mountains of Western Maryland than on-campus) and on a magnitude that makes it economically viable. The Clean Horizons approach supports the triple bottom line (social, environmental, and economic responsibility) for true sustainability.
Onsite, UMBC has solar bus stops on the main campus and a 9 kW solar array on the roof of the Clean Energy Technology Incubator (CETI) building at bwtech @ UMBC South. Other solar projects are being considered for the main campus (such as the Warehouse roof or Library roof) for practical benefits and/or demonstration purposes.
Recycling and Composting
Waste Minimization & Reduction
- Reduce. Conserve resources by using, buying, and wasting less.
- Re-Use. Choose reusable options instead of disposable items, for everything from water bottles, coffee cups, shopping bags and more!
- Recycle. Clean and empty your recyclables.
- Compost. You can compost in the dining hall, Commons, or request compost bins for your events!
It is a goal of UMBC to minimize the waste that is produced by the campus community. Keeping waste out of the landfills decreases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with resource extraction, manufacturing, landfill disposal, and incineration and saves the university money. Working with student groups, university departments, and contractors, Facilities Management coordinates a comprehensive, campus-wide recycling program and regularly publishes the waste data. For more information about the role waste plays in UMBC’s overall sustainability please visit the Climate Action Plan.
UMBC is home to a single-stream recycling program, i.e. paper, glass, plastic, and aluminum are collected together in the same bin for recycling. Containers marked for Recycling are found in outdoor areas, near building entries, in hallways, individual academic departments, and resident hall lounge areas and apartment stairwells. Facilities Management staff places and maintains the Recycling containers on campus. If you spot a Recycling container that needs to be emptied, please report it to FM at 410-455 -2550.
Some buildings may still have outdated Recycling containers that separate paper from glass, plastic, and aluminum. These will be labeled to accept all types of recyclables. Cardboard recycling dumpsters are available behind Dining Hall, Patapsco Hall, Library, Terrace apartments, ITE, and the RAC. Contact Work Control at 410-455-2550 for more information about containers or recycle pickup.
UMBC participates in organic waste diversion (i.e. composting). Currently, pre-consumer composting takes place at True Grits. Post-consumer composting is available at the Commons. At UMBC the organic waste is taken to an industrial composting facility; thus, UMBC is able to accept all food products for composting. Additionally, UMBC’s organic waste hauler accepts napkins, compostable flatware, and dishware.
Facilities Management donates used office/classroom furniture and athletic equipment to charitable organizations. Reusable items should not be put into the dumpsters. Student Workforce will relocate unwanted or reusable furniture, electronics, and other large items that can be re-purposed. Surplus furniture, electronics, building supplies, and other materials are reused, recycled, or donated to charity. Contact Work Control at 410-455-2550.
Campus Race to Zero Waste
UMBC participates in the annual Campus Race to Zero Waste (formally known as Recyclemania). The Campus Race to Zero Waste is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over a 10-week period, schools report recycling and trash data which are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate. With each week’s reports and rankings, participating schools watch how their results fluctuate against other schools and use this to rally their campus communities to reduce and recycle more.
As energy-saving technologies have evolved, so has UMBC. Years before “going green” and “climate change” were mainstream issues, Facilities Management was transforming the campus by leveraging technology to conserve energy and reduce the University’s impact on the environment.
UMBC has historically worked to conserve energy by:
- Retrofitting the Central Plant with high-efficiency boilers, chillers, and hot water pumps
- Installing a thermal energy storage system at the Central Plant. Charging the tank at night (making and storing over 1.6 million gallons of chilled water) reduces the load on the electric grid and power plants during peak daytime hours.
- Converting air distribution systems from constant air volume to energy-efficient variable air volume (VAV) systems.
- Upgrading heating/cooling systems for student housing by replacing stand-alone units with an efficient central Satellite Plant utilizing high-efficiency boilers and chillers
- Installing process chilled-water loops for equipment (condensers, laser labs, etc.) which had been cooled by city water
- Upgrading from pneumatic controls to Direct Digital Controls tied to a Building Automation System with a graphical user interface to improve set point control and occupancy scheduling
- Upgrading exterior lighting for roadways, walkways, and parking lots to high-efficiency metal halide lamps.
- Replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs
- Installing reduced-flow plumbing fixtures such as toilets, urinals, faucets, and showerheads in all new construction and renovations
Facilities Management has continued to take a lead role in UMBC’s sustainability efforts. Summarized below are UMBC’s ongoing energy-related initiatives.
Fleet Vehicles – Facilities Management fleet includes electric vehicles and compressed natural gas vehicles to perform many maintenance tasks around campus, reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy Procurement – By combining the buying power of several University System of Maryland (USM) institutions, UMBC strategically purchases natural gas and electricity at favorable rates and reduced pricing volatility.
Peak Demand Response – By implementing strategic measures to reduce electrical load when the electric grid is stressed by high demand, UMBC increases the reliability of the region’s distribution network and qualifies for energy rebates.
LEED Construction – All new construction is built to meet or exceed LEED Silver standards.
Energy Star Equipment – The campus standard is to buy Energy Star products (computers, appliances, lighting, etc.) when possible.
Renewable Energy – In May 2008, UMBC began getting 20% of its electricity from renewable sources, primarily Maryland’s Conowingo Hydroelectric Plant. Since then, UMBC has remained committed to getting 20% of its electricity from renewable sources. UMBC now gets most of its renewable energy from regional wind and solar projects.
Clean Horizons – UMBC was involved in the State’s collaborative process for “Generating Clean Horizons,” a first-of-its-kind initiative to spur large-scale renewable projects in/near Maryland. As a result of a competitive bid, the awarded projects include land-based wind and solar PV. Additional projects, such as energy from poultry litter and off-shore wind are under consideration. Renewable energy production from Clean Horizons began in 2011 and is ramping toward the target production. Ultimately, 20% of all electricity used by Maryland agencies and universities will come from the Clean Horizons projects. UMBC is buying this clean/green energy via Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), which include the electricity commodity and the associated Renewable Energy Credits (REC). By making a long-term commitment to buy Clean Horizons renewable energy, UMBC essentially co-sponsored the development of several large-scale projects. UMBC’s renewable energy is being produced where it is most physically suitable and economically viable, further enhancing the triple bottom line of social, environmental, and economic sustainability.
On-site Solar – UMBC has solar bus stops on the main campus and a 9 kW solar array on the roof of the Clean Energy Technology Incubator (CETI) building at bwtech @ UMBC South. Other solar projects are being considered for the main campus (such as the Warehouse roof or Library roof) for practical benefits and/or demonstration purposes.
Set Point Standards – Space temperature set points were lowered in the heating season (70o F) and raised during the cooling season (76o F).
Occupancy Scheduling – HVAC equipment on/off times were adjusted to more closely match the actual occupancy. Special events are scheduled in buildings that are already on whenever possible.
Night Setback – When in unoccupied mode, energy-saving space temperature set points are implemented (60o F in the heating season and 85o F in the cooling season).
Central Plant Boilers – Upgraded two primary boilers with high-efficiency boilers including stack economizers.
Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) – EPC is a means for implementing energy-saving projects that essentially pay for themselves over time via the associated energy savings. An array of Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) have been evaluated for feasibility and cost-effectiveness. An ongoing ECM is called Chilled Water Optimization. Other cost-effective ECMs in the works include: interior lighting upgrades, LED lighting for parking garages, irrigation improvements, and control upgrades.
Chilled Water Optimization – Ongoing project to significantly improve the efficiency of the Central Plant and cooling for most of the campus. This project will reduce annual energy usage by 5,700,000 kWh and reduce annual GHG emissions by 3,100 MT eCO2. Compared to UMBC’s baseline year of 2007, this is a 7% reduction in electricity and 3.5% reduction in carbon footprint.
Soda Machines – New vending contract required Energy Star soda machines. Occupancy sensors are used to cycle the refrigeration compressors off during unoccupied hours.
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations – UMBC is home to 18 charging stations. These Level 2 (240 VAC, 30 Amp) are free for use by students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Please visit the Transportation tab on the Sustainability Retriever Mapping Application for locations.