Clean Energy Fund

President Sullivan Reaffirms UVM's Environmental Commitment

To: University of Vermont Community

From: Tom Sullivan

Date: June 6, 2017

RE: UVM’s Environmental Commitment

Since President Trump last week withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, many people across the country and globe have called for a recommitment to climate and environmental issues.

I write today to the UVM Community to state clearly the University’s deep, long standing and steadfast resolve on matters of climate and the environment. UVM has been in the forefront of the study, teaching, and research on issues of the environment and climate.

The University has been and will continue to be a university of consequence and importance in this area. On this point, our University’s vision statement is clear:

To be among the nation’s premier small research universities, preeminent in our comprehensive commitment to liberal education, environment, health, and public service. Our commitment to the environment is a key element in this declarative statement. That commitment remains fully intact and as strong as ever.

The University has long dedicated itself to investing its intellectual and financial assets in environmental programs and initiatives. A campus-wide Environmental Program was established by Presidential mandate in 1972 to meet the need for greater understanding of the ecological and cultural systems supporting all life on earth. The solutions to environmental problems ultimately may be revealed through the discoveries and problem solving of our faculty, students, and alumni in numerous relevant fields of study.

Some of the more recent examples of the University’s environmental leadership in academics, research, and sustainable practices include:

  • The establishment of the Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources whose faculty are dedicated to applied environmental research in service and who collaborate nationally and internationally with other researchers.
  • The recent establishment of the University-wide Gund Institute for Environment.
  • UVM receipt of a STARS Gold Rating for Sustainability Efforts (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System for higher education), this past semester. Our score placed us among the top 12 percent of all rated institutions.
  • 350 UVM faculty members are involved in environmentally related research.
  • 65% of UVM academic departments offer at least one sustainability related course. There are 717 courses related to sustainability at the University.
  • 53% of research-producing departments are engaged in sustainability-related research.
  • UVM continues to add new, distinguished faculty in environmentally focused disciplines.
  • UVM is leading a $1.8 Million Energy Department Project to improve the power grid’s ability to accommodate renewables.
  • Sustainability is included in the University’s General Education Requirements as of 2016.
  • The University’s B.S. degree in Environmental Sciences allows for the exploration of areas of concentration that include Global Climate Change, Agriculture and Environment, Conservation Biology and Biodiversity, Ecological Design, Environmental Analysis and Assessment, Environmental Biology, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Geology, and Water Resources.
  • The Grossman School of Business created a Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA Program.
  • The Sustainability Faculty Fellows Program supports faculty from diverse disciplines.
  • Student Eco-Reps teach peers environmental responsibility and support culture change.
  • The student-led Clean Energy Fund supports lectures, plans, studies, and sustainable campus projects.
  • The EPA named UVM the top Green Power School in the America East Conference.
  • The UVM Foundation Green Fund endows a faculty member whose expertise is in the area of renewable energy production. The Green Fund offers a donation alternative free of investments in companies that engage in the production of fossil fuels.
  • The UVM Office of Sustainability fosters sustainable development and promotes environmental responsibility at UVM by strategically bridging the academic activities of teaching, research, and outreach with the operations of the University.
  • The UVM Energy Management program promotes conserving electricity, fuel, and water as part of its goals and has made substantial infrastructure improvements over the past decade to that end.
  • The Environmental Council updated the University's energy guidelines, which outline methods and procedures to reduce energy consumption in campus buildings, the Central Heating Plant, underground service mains, new construction, lighting, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, water usage, transportation, and solid waste.
  • Working closely with the Burlington Electric Department, UVM is creating more opportunities for the use of sustainable energy sources, including solar panels and the potential for district heating.
  • Faculty in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program of the College of Engineering and Mathematics emphasize both rigorous technical education and social awareness, preparing students to become engineering leaders and innovators who are empowered to make the world a better place for all.
  • The Community-University Partnerships & Service Learning Program supports sustainability across multiple disciplines.
  • UVM participates in the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification program, which is based on a set of design and construction practices that significantly reduce the negative impact of buildings on the environment in five broad areas: sustainable site planning; safeguarding water and water efficiency; energy efficiency and renewable energy; conservation of materials and resources; and indoor environmental quality. The University has adopted a policy requiring all newly constructed buildings to meet at least LEED Silver requirements, defining the University’s commitment to a high level of environmental sustainability in all new buildings and in major renovations of existing buildings.
  • Sustainability-themed housing is offered in LEED-certified Residence Halls.
  • UVM was the first public flagship university to ban the sale of bottled water. The University’s contract with its dining services vendor includes UVM’s commitment to the Real Food Challenge and the consumption of local drinking water.
  • UVM has created a pedestrian and bike-friendly campus, which is supported by participation in the Community Transportation Management Association (CATMA).
  • The University’s dedication to functioning in an environmentally responsible manner is further evident in UVM’s status as a Charter Signatory of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007. The University’s Climate Action Plan (2010) calls for the use of certified renewable power or carbon offsets by 2015 (accomplished) and for carbon neutrality by 2025.

This is an extensive but by no means an exhaustive list of the many initiatives, programs, and efforts across the campus that support environmental and sustainability research, education, and implementation. I share this with you to highlight our longstanding, expanding, and continuing dedication to these issues, and to assure you that our commitment will remain strong.

I look forward to working together, with members of our University community, to strengthen further our preeminence in environmental education, research, and sustainable practices.

Energize your summer! 2016 Clean Energy Internship Program

Co-sponsored by UVM's Clean Energy Fund and host organizations/firms, we announce the launch of the Clean Energy Industry Internship Program. Developed and coordinated by Professor Amy Seidl, seven clean energy internships have been arranged with Vermont and New England based organizations/firms. Current UVM undergraduates and graduating seniors can apply to take part in the first intern cohort of 2016.

$2500 for each intern toward living expenses, sponsored by CEF and internship host organization.

Application deadline is March 15, 2016

SOLD OUT: Al Gore speaking at UVM on October 6th!

Tickets for Al Gore have "sold-out." There is overflow seating in Mann Hall for the event (Trinity Campus). Thanks for the interest and your commitment to meeting the challenge of climate change!

Al Gore
45th Vice President of the United States
Chairman, The Climate Reality Project

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
10:15 am in Ira Allen Chapel
26 University Place, Burlington, VT

This is a ticketed event - tickets are free, but limited Tickets will be released (1 ticket per person) to the UVM community and general public starting on Thursday, October 1st at 8:00 am at the 3rd floor information desk at the Dudley H. Davis Center on UVM's campus.  Should tickets remain past October 1, they will be available for pick-up during Davis Center business hours.  Limited overflow seating will be available for those without tickets to view the lecture live in Mann Auditorium (105) in Mann Hall at 208 Colchester Avenue on UVM's campus. 

To request ADA accommodations, such as interpreting, please contact Conference and Events Services at or 802-656-5665 in advance of the event.

For up-to-date information about the lecture or ticket availability, please visit or or call 802-656-3272.

For media inquiries, please contact Brandi Thomas at

Complimentary Valet Bicycle Parking - a Coat Check for Your Bike!
Local Motion will provide complimentary valet bicycle parking for this event. Cyclists are strongly encouraged to drop off their bicycles at the valet bicycle parking that will be set-up in front of Ira Allen Chapel on University Place.  Trained staff and volunteers will look after checked bicycles during the lecture.  When the lecture concludes, cyclists can simply return to the valet bicycle parking with their claim tickets to pick-up their bicycles.

Parking is available in the Gutterson Parking Garage on UVM's Athletics Campus.  A shuttle bus will be available starting shortly before 9:30 am to transport lecture attendees to Ira Allen Chapel from the Patrick Gym Lobby before the lecture and then back following the conclusion of the lecture.

This lecture is hosted by Seventh Generation and The Energy Action Seminar/Clean Energy Fund at the University of Vermont 


Conference Explores Electric Power From the North

The Clean Energy Fund was a sponsor of the Power from the North Conference. The following article was written by Joshua Brown at UVM Communications on March 25th.

Under the shadow of the 1970’s oil crisis, Vermont’s then-governor Richard Snelling negotiated to purchase electric power from Quebec. In July 1984, the government-owned utility Hydro-Quebec and Vermont finalized a long-term contract, and over the following decades a large portion of the state’s electric power has flowed down from the north.

Today, under the shadow of climate change, the relationship between Vermont and Hydro-Quebec, now the world’s largest hydroelectric producer, is coming back into sharp focus.

To discuss this relationship — and other facets of the dynamic cross-border production and purchase of electric power — more than 200 people gathered March 23-24, for a conference, “Power from the North,” at the University of Vermont.

Crossing Vermont

"In some ways, the story of the past — a governor looking to the north, bringing hydro resources into Vermont and New England, building a new transmission line — is the story that's happening again," said Richard Watts, director of UVM’s Center for Research on Vermont, and one of the conference’s co-organizers.

There is a wealth of carbon-free hydroelectric power being produced in Quebec, many of the conference participants noted. And on the other side of the border, many states are hungry for new sources of clean energy as climate change goals and closing nuclear plants put increasing pressure on officials and markets.

“Southern New England states are looking to reduce their reliance on natural gas and are de-carbonizing their electric systems. Hydro could play a large role in that,” said Watts. “But how does it get to southern New England? Where would the transmission lines go? What would Vermont get out of it? Those are all questions we need to think about here in Vermont and were part of the conversation over the last few days.”

Market possibilities

The long relationship between Quebec and Vermont “has made us the true pioneers of clean energy in North America,” said Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, speaking in one of the conference’s panels. However, “if we want to fight against climate change, then we need, together, to set a price on carbon,” he said. “We have geographic proximity. And the values that we share make us natural partners,” Arcand said. “We remain open to a range of market possibilities.”

But the conference organizers did not create the event to “advocate for more power imports from Quebec,” said David Massell, director of UVM’s Canadian Studies Program and one of the co-organizers. “Our goal is to frankly debate the causes, costs and consequences of bringing power from the North.”

“This is a unique conference, bringing together a highly diverse group of participants,” Massell said. “We have citizens, students, business leaders, academics, elected officials, an aboriginal leader, environmentalists — and they're all talking to one another about one of the great issues of our time: How do we go forward to meet our energy needs in a genuinely sustainable way?”

Fundamental transformation

Several of the conference panelists spoke of a complementary strategy of increasing Vermont’s portfolio of both “distributed” and large-scale renewable power. That is, increasing household and other small-scale electricity generation from sources like solar, wind, and micro-hydro, while also opening more transmission lines and market connections to bring in large-scale hydropower from Quebec and off-shore wind power from the Atlantic — if New England states are going to reach their greenhouse gas reduction targets, including Vermont’s goal of obtaining 90 percent of its power from renewables by 2050.

“We need a fundamental transformation of our energy system that's been around for 100 years,” said speaker David Cash, the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Public Utilities. “We should be saying: let's bring [renewable energy] transmission in everywhere we can.”

First Nations view

But energy development of any kind can be costly, with winners and losers. Even “clean” dams flood land, displacing wildlife and people. One speaker, Ghislain Picard, chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, worried that past would be prelude. He noted that many aboriginal people have been excluded from the decision-making and benefits of development in Quebec hydropower over the last 50 or more years — and, more generally, excluded for centuries.  “We’re at the mercy of a process we don't control," he said, “What we see today is a government project which sits on unextinguished aboriginal title — for the Innu, that's a reality today — and yet still moves ahead with full force.”

Including a business-to-business meeting on the second day, the conference ranged over the complex history — and possible futures — of the Vermont-Quebec electric energy relationship. “Panelists’ presentations were kept short, leaving time for audience commentary,” said UVM’s Richard Watts. “ The result was a genuine conversation.”

UVM Engineers Build Tiny Renewable Wind Turbine for Developing World

[Written by Joshua E. Brown] .00002 miles per hour might remind you of a bad day on the interstate. But that’s how fast some bamboo can grow: up to 35 inches every day — a world record. It’s a grass that can, in a few months, grow as tall as a tree. And, as it grows on, say, a mountainside in China or Chile, it gets hammered by the wind. But it doesn’t break. It flexes and resists, using the power of the sun to grow up and the power of the wind to grow strong. [READ MORE]

Student Project to City Plan

Six months after they graduated from the University of Vermont, Tad Cooke and Erick Crockenberg are still working on a senior project. Think of it as an epic “incomplete,” an extracurricular undertaking that has segued directly into millions of dollars of advanced graduate studies. Written by Andrew Nemethy. READ MORE



Tad & Erick presenting at TEDx Talk

UVM Today: Seniors Champion Innovative Renewable Energy Projects

(Photo: Sally McCay)
[Photo taken by Sally McCay]
Tad Cooke and Erick Crockenberg are masters of synergy -- the idea that individual elements, when brought together, will produce an effect greater than they could have on their own. It's true for the duo, who have been friends since their childhood in Charlotte, Vt. Now, as seniors at UVM, they've created an award-winning project that aims to improve the synergistic potential for Vermont farms.  [Article written in UVM Today by Amanda Kenyon Waite] ... READ MORE

Green Funds 2.0: The Nitty-Gritty of Campus Sustainability Fund Management from the Ground Up

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External Resources

prepared by Mieko Ozeki, Katherine Walsh (UC Berkeley), Kevin Ordean (Northern Arizona University), Lilith Wyatt (McGill University), Melody Hartke (North American University), and McKenzie Beverage (University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign) and presented at the AASHE 2012 Conference.


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