UMass Medical School is a finalist for the 2013 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award and will be recognized this month as one of 20 colleges and universities nationwide that exemplify the mission of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to re-stabilize the earth’s climate through education, research and community engagement.
UMMS will be featured by Second Nature this month in its “Celebrating Sustainability” series, which highlights the sustainability initiatives of the finalists for the 2013 Climate Leadership Awards. Second Nature, a national nonprofit that works to create a healthy, just and sustainable society by transforming higher education, will formally recognize UMMS on the ACUPCC and Second Nature websites on April 26.
In tandem with the series, UMMS is vying for the top spot in a public video voting competition. UMMS has produced a video that promotes the campus’s sustainability initiatives, and viewers will have the opportunity to vote for the most innovative and groundbreaking institution in each of five Carnegie classifications. UMMS will be competing in the special focus institution class. Voting takes place throughout April in partnership with Planet Forward: http://planetforward.org/climate-leadership-awards-2013/
“Stewardship of the environment, which is fundamentally linked to public health, is a core value of our mission as Massachusetts’s only public medical school,” said Melissa Lucas, sustainability manager at UMMS. “Our Growing Green initiative is a robust, multi-layered sustainability and education program aimed at reducing energy consumption, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and expanding recycling and other measures that collectively will limit the medical school’s carbon footprint.”
In 2010, the medical school opened the 258,000-square-foot Ambulatory Care Center, which earned LEED Silver. In 2013, the 512,000-square-foot Albert Sherman Center (ASC) opened and earned LEED Gold. Built on a core of recycled steel, wood from sustainable forests and efficient lighting and mechanical systems, the ASC will pulse with researchers seeking cures for diabetes, HIV, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
An upgrade of the medical school’s co-generation plant added a new high-efficiency, 7.5 megawatt, natural gas-fired combustion turbine and an associated heat recovery system for steam generation. The addition of the new gas turbine, which replaces one of the plant’s original gas- and oil-fired steam boilers, has helped UMMS reduce its oil usage by 94 percent since 2007—the equivalent of 14,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Since natural gas burns cleaner than oil and the new jet turbine is highly efficient, the expanded power plant will actually have lower green-house gas emissions despite its added energy capacity.
“UMass Medical School has performed careful surgery on its energy needs, slicing down its oil usage to a scant six percent of what it was in just five years,” noted David Hales, president of Second Nature. “This aggressive yet practical approach to reducing its operational carbon footprint is part and parcel of the climate commitment as well as UMass Medical’s mission to advance the health and well-being of people.”