Comprehensive Sustainability Plan | Office of Sustainability | The University of Vermont(title)

UVM has a history of sustainability leadership in higher education and global recognition. The development of UVM’s Comprehensive Sustainability Plan allows UVM to step forward, amplify the work we already do, and announce renewed commitment to a healthy environment and healthy societies.

The Comprehensive Sustainability Plan (CSP) focuses and engages the campus community and generates interest among internal and external stakeholders. Most importantly, the CSP outlines short- and long-term goals that are achievable and within the financial capacity of the institution. The development of UVM’s Comprehensive Sustainability Plan will help guide the institution over the next ten years and beyond to create a better world through responsible stewardship of all of our resources.

The goals of the plan are organized around four major themes:

  • Decarbonization
  • Operations
  • Governance and People
  • Research and Learning

 Progress on the CSP goals


Energy and climate

GOAL: Carbon neutral by 2030.

PROGRESS: UVM'S greenhouse gas inventory increases transparency and makes information more accessible for research and learning. Development of a campus energy plan is underway. UVM is launching a Decarbonization Advisory Group to bring together students, faculty and staff focused on this crucial work on our campus. 

GOAL: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 60% below 2007 levels by 2024.

PROGRESS: UVM purchased Vermont carbon offsets from the Vermont Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy to cover our Scope 3 emissions.


GOAL: Reduce GHG emissions in major university buildings.

PROGRESS: UVM drilled the first of two geothermal test wells to investigate the feasibility of geothermal energy on campus. The utilities team is leading a significant effort to map utility metering infrastructure on campus and prioritize data collection on buildings with high energy use. 

GOAL: Increase energy efficiency in laboratory buildings.

PROGRESS: The Sustainable Solutions Lab developed a graduate internship in collaboration with the Sustainable Innovation MBA (SIMBA) Program to lead this effort. The Environmental Design Policy was recently updated to include new energy efficiency standards for laboratories.


GOAL: Reduce GHG emissions associated with the UVM fleet.

PROGRESS: UVM currently operates a fleet of 25 electric vehicles (EVs). Efforts are underway to implement a fleet permit fee, encouraging the transition to EVs, reducing unused vehicles, and promoting sharing across departments. The first 10 ports of fleet specific electric vehicle chargers were installed, with additional fleet charging stations planned for the BioResearch Complex. We've utilized various state, local, and federal incentives to support these acquisitions. UVM's Fleet

GOAL: Reduce conventional single-occupancy vehicle commutes from 2019 baseline.

PROGRESS: Launched a new bikeshare program. Two new covered and secured bike parking shelters accommodating over 100 bikes installed on campus. The recent addition of the third CarShare Vermont vehicle on campus ensures that individuals arriving without a vehicle have access to one when needed, thereby boosting confidence in alternative commuting methods. The development of new housing closer to campus will further support this initiative. UVM's Commuter Choices.

GOAL: Implement the EV Charging Campus Plan.

PROGRESS: Plans for 57 new electric fleet vehicle charging ports and 69 new public charging ports, marks a significant increase in campus charging and represents the largest EV charging investment from an employer in the State of Vermont. UVM's EV Charging.


Food and dining

GOAL: Increase spending on Vermont-grown food to 25% by 2030.

PROGRESS: Last year, UVM increased its spending on local food. However, the percentage of local food purchased by UVM Dining decreased due to increased costs of food related to inflation and labor challenges. In Fall 2023, UVM Dining increased the local food availability in retail locations, launched the Vermont Burger Company and partnered with Global Village Foods, a minority-owned business. UVM Dining.


GOAL: Reduce total pounds of waste generated per campus user 10% by 2035 from 2019 baseline.

PROGRESS: Total amount of waste generated decreased in FY23 compared to 2019 baseline. 

GOAL: Increase composting and recycling by a combined 10% or more by 2035 from 2019 baseline.

PROGRESS: Total amount of materials recycled increased from FY22 to FY23. A campus-wide waste characterization study has been recommended and approved by the Sustainable Campus Fund. A comprehensive container audit is currently underway to determine infrastructure needs.  

UVM Recycling, Compost, and Waste.


GOAL: Prioritize the purchase of electric grounds management equipment.

PROGRESS: Developing a formal standard for the prioritization of electric equipment is under discussion.

GOAL: Increase the acreage of sustainable and native plantings on campus.

PROGRESS: All garden beds were mapped and evaluated for pollinator friendliness. The campus plant list was revised to include more pollinator-friendly species. Recommendations are being created to improve select beds. 

Governance and People

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

GOAL: Support the implementation of Inclusive Excellence Action Plans within departments across the University.

PROGRESS: Opportunities were identified for alignment with the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) 3.0 DEI credits. 


GOAL: Implement the CSP and revise the plan on a five-year basis.

PROGRESS: Created Sustainability Leadership Committee and launched implementation committees. The annual progress report was distributed through news articles and the Office of Sustainability's social media platforms and website.


GOAL: Increase percentage of positive sustainability investments and shareholder advocacy.

PROGRESS: Achieved in 2024. 

UVM's Socially Responsible Investing

Workforce development

GOAL: Create partnerships with other training and educational institutions to support the development and training of the green workforce in Vermont.

PROGRESS: Facilities Management at UVM is partnering with the Leahy Institute for Rural Partnerships to amplify workforce development efforts. UVM hosts students from a local technology high school to learn alongside our utility engineers each spring. 


GOAL: Improve purchasing practices to increase sustainable purchases across the University.

PROGRESS: The Office of Sustainability has begun reviewing relevant request for proposals (RFPs) before they are published to recommend opportunities for enhancing sustainability.  

Research and Learning


GOAL: Strengthen and support transdisciplinary sustainability research across the University.

PROGRESS: The Office of Sustainability developed an internship with the Sustainable Innovation MBA (SIMBA) program.

GOAL: Launch Sustainable Solutions Lab (SSL) and cultivate research that uses campus as a “living lab”.

PROGRESS: The Sustainable Solutions Lab hosted three graduate and one undergraduate student in the first cohort. Funding for an additional two students next year was secured. 


GOAL: Educate students to have a positive impact and contribute to sustainable communities.

PROGRESS: UVM is a leader in sustainability education. The Gund Institute for the Environment, the Institute for Agroecology and the SIMBA Program in the Grossman School continue to lead this work across campus. A new Planetary Health Initiative will accelerate learning opportunities. 

Bird's eye view of Waterman, University Green, downtown Burlington, and Lake Champlain

How can you help UVM reach its carbon neutrality goal?

We need help from our campus community and from our donors to go carbon neutral. We hope you’ll join us in getting UVM to carbon neutrality by 2030!

Invest in UVM's future

Sustainability Leadership Committee

  • Elizabeth Palchak, Chair, Office of Sustainability Director
  • Luce Hillman, Executive Director, Facilities Management
  • Dan Harvey, Director of Operations, Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR)
  • Claire Burlingham, University Controller
  • Paul Suk-Hyun Yoon, Senior Advisor for Inclusive Excellence, Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
  • Kerry Castano, Assistant Provost and Chief of Staff
  • Undergraduate Representative
  • Graduate Representative