Mission and climate commitment

In 2015, Julio Frenk became the sixth president of the University of Miami. Among his many endeavors, he has served as the Minister of Health of Mexico from 2000 to 2006. As a board member of the UN Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and as a recipient of the Clinton Global Citizen Award, President Frenk is well aware of the challenges and threats Climate Change represent for the future of our communities and our Hemisphere.  On top of endorsing our climate commitment and our sustainability action plan, in 2016, President Frenk has shown the University’ spirit of resilience and innovation by signing the “We Are Still In” agreement, joining the many elected officials and CEOs of the Nation, committed to carbon neutrality.

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.”

In 2007, President Donna E. Shalala signed the 2nd Nature - 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 American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) is a project developed by the national organization  2nd Nature in partnership with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), from which the University of Miami is an active member. 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 was 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 signing (April 18th, 2007)

Following the 2nd Nature Presidents Climate Commitment, the University of Miami has been initiating actions to reduce greenhouse gases:

  • We established a policy that all new campus constructions need to be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or above.
  • We adopted an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.
  • We have been encouraging the use of and provide access to public transportation and alternative mobility for all faculty, staff, students and visitors at our institution.
  • We launched a waste minimization campaign that include the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Mission Statement:

 “Our Facilities Operations and Planning group is leading the effort to seek new and innovative ways for the University to meet its sustainability goals through conservation, reducing, reuse
and recycling programs […] and reducing their energy consumption”
University of Miami Strategic Plan. p 44

The Office of Sustainablity's efforts are coordinated through the Department of Facilities, Operations and Planning. Green U works with staff, faculty, students, alumni and community partners to promote a culture of environmental stewarship and sustainable development; its mission is to spread sustainable behaviors, practices and policies that will minimize our impacts on natural resources, reduce our carbon footprint and foster a more balanced relationship between humans and their surrounding environment.

Since 2017, the University have decided 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.  In 2019, UM received a Gold rating on STARS for its achievments in sustainability performance. This ranking was allowed by the implementation of our Sustainability Action Plan 2019. Our Sustainability Steering Committee will be preparing our Sustainability Action Plan 2025 based on the results on our STARS report, but you can already download our Sustainability Report 2020 and send us your feedback on potential improvement of sustainability performance at the U, contact greenu@miami.edu.