University of Vermont

Green Dorm

Frequently Asked Questions

The university has a "carry out, carry back in" philosophy about outdoor trash and recyclables.

In response to numerous student requests that there be an outdoor recycling bin for every outdoor trash bin, the University staff took a step back and looked at the whole situation. They then made an intentional decision to reduce cost and litter associated with outdoor trash collection by removing all but a handful of outdoor trash containers.

Factors for this decision included the expense, inefficiency and disruption to campus of having the recycling crew drive around in a truck to pick up waste along the sidewalks, and the problem with trash and recyclables blowing out of containers and creating litter. We ask our community members who bring food and beverages from inside buildings to enjoy outside to take responsibility for their packaging and CARRY WASTE BACK INSIDE for proper disposal.


The Bottled Water Story: On January 31, 2012 the University of Vermont announced that it would become the first public university in the nation to end the sale of bottled water on campus, and mandate healthy options for one-third of the drinks offered in vending machines. Read the article from University Communications here.

Sales of bottled water end January 2013. Because of the complexity in retrofitting water fountains from many eras across our historic campus, the date for ending sales of bottled water has been extended six months beyond the end of the 2002-2012 contract. Bottled water will not be sold through vending, retail, concessions, catering, or residential dining.

Student, faculty and staff opinion: The student message for five years has been about ending sales of bottled water on campus. Faculty concern about what constitutes healthy beverages is also rising, and several fall 2011 events addressed this question.

Ten-year beverage contract ends June 2012: The current contract with Coca-Cola of Northern New England expires June 30, 2012. There will no longer be a corporate sponsorship arrangement, with near-exclusive marketing and "pouring rights." The University put the vending portion, comprising about 20% of total bottled beverage sales, out to bid. Most of the beverages served on campus will continue to be sold through Dining Services in retail, residential dining, catering, and athletics concessions. Now that the ten-year exclusive contract with CCNE is ending, Dining will be able to purchase the beverage mix of their choice through national contracts available through Sodexo, Dining's parent company, with Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other companies.

Non-exclusive beverage vending starts July 2012: On February 1, 2012, a request for proposal was released seeking proposals to provide UVM with beverage vending. UVM received three bid responses as part of this process. The University has chosen Sodexo as the vendor for the beverage vending contract for the next three years. This contract begins on July 1, 2012 and extends through June 30, 2015. The contract is a non-exclusive agreement and Sodexo will offer products from multiple brands. Consistent with the University’s goal to support environmental sustainability this contract will exclude bottled (non-flavored water and non-carbonated) from all vending machines beginning on January 1, 2013. Additionally, in the interest of promoting more healthy choices, at least 33% of the beverage options in vending machines on campus will be healthy choice products.

No filtration needed: The administration has decided to rely on cool, plain, unfiltered tap water to hydrate campus, and to install bottle fillers on at least 75 of the 215 fountains on campus by January 2013. The central administration will not be providing filtration or other dispensing systems; Dining Services and the stores on campus may be interested in providing filtered water and beverage containers, depending on customer interest.

Companies interested in doing business with UVM can contact our Procurement Services. See the "Doing Business with UVM" page for more information. This will allow UVM staff and project managers who are looking to fill defined needs to find interested companies at the time they need that information.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please use the contact us form.

UVM's Recycling and Waste Management program has techno trash bins around campus. Check out the Techno Trash page here for a map of bin locations and guidelines of what can be thrown in these bins. 


"Techno trash" includes pretty much everything but the computer itself: storage devices, CD's, floppy disks, hard drives, Zip disks, cell phones & accessories, iPods, empty print cartridges, cables, cords, parts of circuit boards, video tapes, PDA's, etc.

Please don't throw "techno trash" in the regular garbage or recycling bins. Keep these materials separate so we can recycle valuable resources, keep hazardous materials out of the landfill and ensure protection of privacy since the recycling company shreds the electronic media we send them.


Want to learn more about UVM's Recycling and Waste Management program? Check out their website at:

Vendors of products and services related to sustainability are invited to register their companies with Procurement Services at, so the vendors can be contacted when a related request for proposals (RFP) is issued. Office of Sustainability staff are not in a position to discuss ideas with vendors independent of a formal RFP process.


  • We do not use pesticides or herbicides on campus and we practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management)
  • Using "Magic" to Reduce Salt Use on Campus
  • We plant only native, zone hardy and site-specific plants which require less maintenance and water, and are working to plant more perennials on campus
  • Irrigation on campus is limited to the athletic fields and the main green
  • Some of our diesel mowing equipment is fueled by biodiesel, as is our dump truck
  • We don't bag grass clippings
  • We use only locally purchased compost and organic fertilizers


Want to find out more information about Grounds? Visit their page at:



UVM contracts with a private hauler who collects food scraps from all dining locations five days per week.  Once each semester, the hauler performs a "weight audit" where the truck operator weighs all UVM food waste separate from other customers on the route.  From this audit, we know that on average, UVM diverts 7.93 tons of food scraps per week  to the composting operation. During fall cleanup, the Grounds department also keeps track of how many cubic yards of leaf and yard waste are hauled to the composting facility. 

For more information, contact:


All of our challenges relate to collecting food scraps on the front end, since this is the only part of the process handled internally by UVM. Keeping the carts and buckets clean, keeping the carts from freezing solid in winter, and from stinking too badly in summer are our biggest challenges.  Another challenge is controlling contamination: an occasional rubber band or non-food item will end up in the cart, but for the most part University Dining Services staff are fantastic at participating. Students are asked to separate their food scraps for composting in all Dining Hall locations. This works well in resident dining areas, but is a bit more challenging in the retail and take-out dining.  

For more information, contact:

The only direct involvement are student Eco-Reps who are asked to set up a collection pail in their residence hall.  Eco-Reps are responsible for emptying and washing out the pail each week at a central collection point at one of the dining halls.  And of course, students are involved every time they scrape their food leftovers in the the compost pail in the dining halls!  

For more information, contact:


Since UVM does not compost on its own site, this is determined by the compost facility operator, Intervale Compost Products. Typically, in a conventional "windrow composting" method, the process of mixing, pile building, active phase composting, curing and finishing could take 6 - 9 months.  ICP is in the process of moving to a new location and switching to an "aerated static pile" method which will shorten this time frame.

For more information, contact:


The UVM Recycling program (which is housed in the Physical Plant Department) manages the collection of food scraps from all the dining halls.  UVM Recycling works closely with University Dining Services, the UVM Eco-Reps and the private hauler and the compost facility operator to ensure the program runs smoothly.


UVM does not have any large-scale compost sites on campus. Composting is done off site by a non-profit composting facility called Intervale Compost Products which is owned by the Chittenden Solid Waste District.  The site is located near campus and is a popular place for students and classes to visit and learn about the composting process.

The only composting projects on campus are a "backyard" bin located behind one of the residence halls, and a "vermicomposting" bin located inside another residence hall. These are very small projects used for demonstration and learning purposes.  The University Dairy farm also runs a small-scale manure composting operation, but they do not handle any non-farm or non-manure waste. 


For more information, contact:

UVM has the Common Ground Farm, a student-run CSA, student-initatived gardens at Slade Hall and the Greenhouse Residential Learning Community, and faculty-led gardens outside Jeffords and Hills buildings. Demonstration gardens have educational and inspirational value to passersby, and offer additional rewards for their caretakers and partakers. Why not more food around campus?

It’s possible to grow more food on campus, but it is more complex than many people realize. First, lawns cover complex infrastructure for buildings and stormwater management, ruling out significant areas for trees or cultivation. Open decisionmaking about public space takes time and effort, and new ideas need to consider budget implications for the long term.  Beyond the challenges of negotiating institutional approval processes and finding funding, come the hard realities of summer staffing and high turnover.

Getting more gardens requires having an academic department's support and plenty of time for Campus Planning to work through approvals. Interested in putting in a new garden? Check out how the existing ones are run, starting with Jeffords and Hills.

Managing campus-wide energy use is a complex process involving lots of staff, lots of equipment, and lots of time. Settings are based on a building’s use profile and feedback from its users. While much of this can be centrally managed, precise control often rests with instruments and conditions onsite at each building, which includes the choices made by each building’s users. The Energy Management Office is always looking for ways to increase efficiency and to optimize performance, and this can sometimes take the form of “turning down the heat” when conditions in a given building warrant it. As part of the Energy Management Office’s ongoing process of improving energy operations on campus, a number of strategies for energy savings are being considered. If you have suggestions for the Energy Management Office, you can let them know by emailing UVM’s Energy Guidelines can be found here.

We do! Starting in spring 2011, students in the Bike Users' Group launched a pilot program to provide free bikes for use by UVM students, faculty and staff. Find out more, sign a waiver, and start biking! Learn more about the program by typing "bike" into our website search engine.

UVM is committed to developing on-campus solar and wind power when appropriate and has invested in a solar photovoltaic demonstration project on the roof of the heating and cooling center, a demonstration wind turbine just East of the Jeffords building, and an array of 17 solar trackers on Spear street. While we anticipate investing in more solar and wind installations in the future, neither of these technologies, alone or in combination, have the capacity to significantly reduce UVM’s carbon emissions or to offset more than a fraction of UVM’s energy consumption, even if they were installed on every rooftop. To achieve carbon neutrality, UVM will need to invest its resources wisely, exploring increased efficiency, geothermal energy, biomass, and market mechanisms.

The Vermont Campus Sustainability Network has information on sustainability programs at colleges around the state.

Dr. Stephanie Hurley in PSS is responsible for coordinating use of the raised beds on the east side of Jeffords (facing the Green Mountains).  Two are dedicated to Mark Starrett's PSS015 Home and Garden Horticulture labs.  The others are for research or are used by Campus Kitchens/Common Ground Student-Run Farm for vegetable production.

Starting in the summer of 2014, Dr. Hurley (with UVM Campus Kitchens) and Dr. Yolanda Chen (with Common Ground Student-Run Farm) are jointly overseeing the planting of the vegetable beds on the west side of Jeffords. It is a new venture where both organizations are supporting a summer intern to manage these gardens. Produce from these gardens will be used by Campus Kitchens to make nutritious meals for the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.

Mark Starrett oversees the planting and management of the educational gardens on the west and east sides of the building.  He has received input from faculty in Plant and Soil Science, as well as Planty Biology, as to what plants are needed for various courses in these two departments.  In addition to several courses in the two aforementioned departments, Biology, BCOR, (BioCore courses) Environmental Studies, and Art have used these gardens as a teaching resource.

The UVM Horticulture Club, as well as Starrett's workstudy students, Vermont Master Gardener volunteers and Starrett himeself, sow seeds for annuals planted in the garden beds.  Similarly, these same individuals also plant these beds and maintain them throughout the summer.