Leadership | Office of Sustainability | The University of Vermont(title)

The university’s commitment to sustainability informs our planning and shapes our approach to research and learning.

UVM's Sustainability Research

The Comprehensive Sustainability Plan (CSP) sets ambitious goals to decarbonize our campus operations, reduce waste and use campus as a “living lab” to prepare our students for complex sustainability challenges in their careers. The CSP solidifies our commitment to leadership over the next decade on this critically important work. Cultivating connections to sustainability and healthy living is also a key idea in the University’s Campus Plan

In 2011, the University established a policy to achieve LEED Silver in all new buildings and major renovations and since that time has built 18 LEED-certified projects. The Gund Institute for the Environment is a global leader in sustainability research, while scholars and alumni from across UVM have made profound impacts influencing climate change policy, renewable energy development, sustainable business practices, sustainable agriculture practices and much more.

For People and Planet

UVM’s commitment to environmental and social responsibility reverberates through the University’s priorities and in Our Common Ground principles. This commitment is articulated in the Faculty Senate’s definition of sustainability, developed from Our Common Ground and guiding the creation of the Sustainability General Education curriculum: “At University of Vermont, we recognize that the pursuit of ecological, social, and economic vitality must come with the understanding that the needs of the present be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 

Coordinating Sustainability Action

The Environmental Council, a campus-wide consortium on sustainability, was organized in 1996 to infuse environmental responsibility into campus operations. UVM hired a full-time Environmental Coordinator in 1998 and was among the first ten campuses nationwide to create such a position. In 2008 the Environmental Council became the Office of Sustainability to support sustainable development at UVM through coordinating academics, culture, operations and policy. 

Higher Education Leadership

In 2006, UVM committed to active membership in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Membership in the primary professional organization for campus sustainability brings national visibility and credibility to UVM initiatives.  

Divestment from Fossil Fuels

The Board of Trustees decided on July 14, 2020 to divest from fossil fuels (PDF) and celebrate UVM's longstanding commitment to sustainability.  By taking this action regarding fossil fuel investments within a time frame that is shorter than many other universities that have taken fossil fuel actions, UVM once again asserted a leadership position. 

Public Reporting

In 2013, the University committed to submitting data for rating its sustainability practices using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), sponsored by AASHE. The University reports every three years on sustainability in academics, research, co-curriculum, operations, policies, planning administration, and outreach. UVM earned a Gold rating in our four successive reports—in 2014, 2017, 2020 and 2023.

Commitment to Climate Action

In 2007, UVM became a charter member of American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment—now the Carbon Commitment—a high-visibility effort by the non-profit organization Second Nature to address global climate disruption by committing to neutralize campus greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate research and education to restabilize the Earth’s climate. In 2010, UVM approved a Climate Action Plan with ambitious targets. As part of this commitment, the university has integrated sustainability studies into the curriculum, and sourced local renewable energy. A new sustainability plan in 2023 updates targets and actions.