Mission and climate commitment


Through its teaching and research endeavors, as well as the operations of its overall enterprise, the University of Miami is committed to the safeguarding of the environment. Innovative programs in schools and colleges, interdisciplinary centers and institutes, and events and activities throughout the University address issues involving a wide spectrum of environmental concerns.

In 2005 the University launched Green U, under the direction of Alan J Fish (The Vice President of Business Services at the time) in order to officially categorize and direct the numerous sustainability efforts of the University. Green U’s first aim was to make UM: “a community leader in the acquisition of environmentally responsible products and the practice of ecologically sound maintenance and operations procedures.”

The American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) is a project developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), to which the University belongs. The commitment provides a framework and support for America’s colleges and universities to become Carbon neutral. As a member of the elite Leadership Circle, President Shalala is one of the original signatories.

The University of Miami is recognized for preparing students to be environmental thinkers and responsible citizens of the world… Now we are making a commitment to a sustainable future by broadening our approach to educating students on environmental sustainability and by fostering a culture of environmental awareness at the University.” - President Shalala on her historic signing (April 18th, 2007)

The main goals of the Green U program are coordinated through the Environmental Health and Safety department (EHS). This department falls under and corresponds with the Business Services department. The Executive Director of the EHS department, Ken Capezzuto, whose mission is “To help the University continuously improve its compliance with safety and environmental regulation”, has played an instrumental role in Green U’s developments since the beginning.

This is currently an exciting time for Green U and the University of Miami as we make strives to reduce waste, energy, water consumption, and increase education for the community and beyond. Green U is a cultural movement at the University; each community member’s participation is essential for success. As we further the culture of sustainability the University of Miami’s Green U program will continue to produce the leaders of tomorrow who leave the smallest impression on the planet possible.


Mission Statement of the Sustainability Committee at UM:

The Sustainability Committee is composed of a panel of diverse stakeholders and community members of our campus. It strives to promote a culture of environmental awareness through the university community, making sustainability one of the core value of our institution; we want to engage our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community as whole in improving our ecological footprint.
We want to diffuse sustainable practices that acknowledge the necessary balance between humans and their surrounding environment, and that minimize the impacts on our natural resources;
At the U, we transform lives through teaching, research and service. The mission of this committee is to develop an operational model that guarantees this commitment to sustainability.


Special Report on Climate Change Highlights UM Research

Debuting in advance of Earth Day, the University of Miami’s Climate Change Special Report, developed by University Communications, features more than 40 articles on science and research; dozens of interviews with UM faculty, alumni, and students; and social and interactive engagement with polls, graphics, and an opportunity for you to write your own haiku to the environment. Visit climate.miami.edu to get the full report.

In 2007 President Donna E. Shalala signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. This historical event sent a strong and unequivocal message about University of Miami’s dedication to sustainability. As part of this commitment, a Climate Action Plan was designed in 2009 (download here). The University of Miami, since then, has taken steps towards carbon neutrality and has engaged in the path of Greenhouse Gas emissions reduction.

The University of Miami’s 2014 Sustainability Interim Report follows the steps of our first Climate Action Plan. This report intends to give a snapshot of the State of Green Initiatives and achievements at UM, specifically for the campus of Coral Gables and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. It is a part of the roadmap that the University follows in its journey towards carbon neutrality.  In order to fulfill long-term goals of greenhouse gas emission reductions, UM has committed to various programs, projects and policies that will be outlined in this document.  Future scenarios and strategic planning for emission reductions will be the object of a separate and more comprehensive Sustainability Action Plan that we are expecting to release in 2016.

We already made the choice to use the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System as the most appropriate tool for this endeavor. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. UM is an active member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.  Our application to STARS will ensure that the plan gets constant monitoring, evaluation and feedback.   

This interim report highlights the need for a holistic approach to sustainability on our campuses. We hope to foster a culture transformation that will put sustainable behaviors and investments at the core of our institution values. The first installment of the University of Miami’s Climate Action Plan in 2009 proposed a tentative timeline, as well as various possible methods to reduce our carbon footprint. The university will need to build on this foundation, review it, and update it. We are confident that by the end of 2016, we will have completed this task and open a new chapter in UM’s journey to Sustainability.

Download the report