The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is doing its part to promote renewable energy and reduce its carbon footprint as part of a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2045. According to the UMB Office of Sustainability, 2022 marks the first time in UMB’s history that 100 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources.
By reaching the milestone in 2022, the Office of Sustainability surpassed its own target of increasing UMB’s renewable energy sources to 75 percent by 2030.
UMB achieved the goal by purchasing energy through the University System of Maryland (USM) Energy Consortium, a partnership between USM and private companies that aims to advance energy-related research, education, and economic development in Maryland.
Through this consortium, UMB is part of three renewable energy power purchase agreements (PPAs):
- Pinnacle through US Wind Force, an onshore wind project in West Virginia
- St. Mary’s Solar through Constellation, a solar project in Maryland
- Roth Rock Phase II through Synergics-SBR, an onshore wind project in Maryland
Additionally, UMB purchased a limited number of hydroelectric and Green-e wind renewable energy certificates to reach 100 percent renewable electricity.
The accomplishment is noteworthy, says Elizabeth Main, MPA, associate director, Office of Sustainability, “because we purchase the second-most amount of electricity purchased in the USM Energy Consortium. So, for us to go 100 percent, it’s a big portion of the USM pie.”
Dawn M. Rhodes, DBA, senior vice president and chief business and finance officer, says the environmental accomplishment reflects UMB’s commitment to the core values set of Well-Being and Sustainability.
“It’s a starting point for how we are changing to rely more on renewable energy,” she said. “We know how important it is to protect our environment, and this shows people that we’re serious at UMB about doing so.”
UMB has taken numerous steps to implement its commitment to sustainability, including the installation of energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems, piloting a Green Labs program, and the implementation of sustainable procurement policies. The University is even encouraging employees to reduce their own carbon emissions by partnering with WeSolar to offer community solar benefits to staff and faculty who receive electricity from BGE. To date, over 300 UMB staff, faculty, and postdocs have enrolled in the program.
“We’re a big consumer in the state of Maryland, so this a big deal,” said Mike Krone, MS, assistant director, utilities management, who is proud of the example UMB is setting for other large institutions in the state. “We’re proving we can make the change and showing our support to the state legislature’s goals to clean up emissions.”
UMB President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, noted that the University recognizes its responsibility for careful stewardship of the environment and is committed to preserving the world’s natural resources.
“UMB is in a unique position of leadership and influence in the community to serve as a model to promote progressive ideals in the areas of energy conservation, the elimination of global warming emissions, and the use of green design,” he said.