Overarching Institutional Commitments
UVM’s commitment to environmental and social responsibility reverberates through 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 sunsetted with the creation of the Office of Sustainability, formed to support sustainable development at UVM through coordinating academics, culture, operations and policy.
Commitment to 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 in July 2020 to divest from fossil fuels and celebrate UVM's longstanding commitment to sustainability. Read the full report (PDF) from the University of Vermont Board of Trustees, July 14, 2020. By taking this action regarding fossil fuel investments, and doing so within a time-frame that is markedly shorter than other universities that recently have taken fossil fuel actions, UVM once again is asserting a leadership position with respect to sustainability—a position that also is expressed through the University’s academic programming, research, facilities, transportation, and campus programs.
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—under ever-evolving metrics.
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 univesity has integrated sustainability studies into the curriculum, and sourced local renewable energy. A new sustainability plan in 2023 updates targets and actions.