Energy and Water

Investments in the central heating and cooling plant and ongoing energy efficiency upgrades since 2007 have resulted in improved comfort while energy use dropped an amazing 28% per square foot of building space.

Conservation and efficiency first.

  • UVM operates its own efficient, on-campus central heating and cooling plant that reliably supplies heating, cooling and hot water to most buildings on campus.
  • The $13 million Energy Revolving Fund pays for energy efficiency projects (example) that have a simple payback period of seven years or less.
  • Energy efficiency projects typically address water conservation as well, since thermal energy is carried by steam to heat building spaces and provide hot water.
  • Water conservation initiatives include a Dining policy to thaw food in the fridge instead of under running water, and signs remind people to report drips and leaks.

Commitments have paid off.

  • In 2007, students asked for a $10/semester fee to create the Sustainable Campus Fund to support cleaner energy sources and wiser use of energy. Today, the fund’s $200,000 annual budget continues to support new campus energy systems as well as educational and research activities.
  • In 2010, UVM approved a Climate Action Plan committing to a path toward carbon neutrality, starting with energy efficiency upgrades.
  • Since 2015, UVM's electricity is carbon neutral. In addition to generating electricity from our on-campus solar arrays, UVM has purchased certified renewable power from local farms and from Midwest wind projects equivalent to 100% of electricity use. 
  • Since 2018 the Student Government Association calculated its clubs' energy use from buildings and transportation, and bought carbon offsets to cover all of the related greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • The Sustainable Campus Fund has paid for 17 solar trackers at the Forestry building on Spear Street, and solar panels on the Miller Research Complex, Votey, and the library.
  • Water use has dropped 33 percent per square foot since 2007.

Why Centralize?

District heating and cooling systems and how they tend to be more efficient and easier to maintain than each individual building having its own system. They work by producing thermal energy (steam, hot water, chilled water) in a central location and then piping it out to other buildings for heating and air conditioning. Read more about the Central Heating and Cooling Plant here.

Ending The Sale of Bottled Water

In response to student activism, UVM ended the sale of bottled water on its campus in January 2013. Many water fountains across campus were retrofitted in advance of this change and free, filtered cold water was made available in all dining outlets.

In 2016 UVM rolled out a campus-wide campaign called UVM Hearts Water to remind the campus community of the health benefits of drinking local water and the environmental benefits of refilling reusable bottles. UVM Dining also updated its healthy beverage standard to require at least 50% (up from 30% in 2013) of beverage offerings contain 40 or fewer calories per 8-ounce serving.