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Higher Education in Maryland

University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute Green Iniatives

The University of Maryland’s Biotechnology Institute is comprised of 4 separate facilities: two in the City of Baltimore, one in Rockville, and the last at University of Maryland-College Park campus. We are pleased to announce that UMBI is pursuing two major sustainable or ‘green’ projects to implement in each of its four locations that will result in major reductions in energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste generation. The two main programs are:

  • Multi-tiered recycling and waste minimization program
  • Comprehensive energy conservation measures to eventually make every site become carbon neutral

    Each facility already has implemented an active recycling program. Our most comprehensive program is in the Rockville campus where, in addition to recycling of glass, cans, and paper, we also collect for recycling: most types of plastic, batteries including UPCs, Styrofoam peanuts and boxes, cartridges from printers and fax machines, and even ty-vek suits. As the waste vendors throughout Maryland provide more uniform collection options, we will add these to our Baltimore facilities and are working with other institutions in the scientific community to extend reuse and waste minimization through a chemical exchange program.

    In addition to its recycling collection programs, UMBI will participate in the annual RecycleMania competition that is held every spring among universities and colleges nationwide. Finally, UMBI has pledged to adopt and implement several other methods for reducing wastes at each location, as part of its participation in the President’s Climate Change Commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is further described below.

    Our second major ‘green’ program targets energy use and climate change. UMBI is pursuing an aggressive energy conservation program that will make our operations more energy efficient, and reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. Eventually, each UMBI location will become ‘carbon neutral’ most likely through a combination of different energy saving measures and purchase of carbon offsets.
    Our energy program is prompted partly by recent state legislation requiring agencies to meet a target reduction of energy use. It was further triggered by goals we agreed to meet when we joined the American Colleges and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). This program sets aggressive implementation dates to reduce energy consumption, increase waste reduction and recycling (as mentioned above), and eventually develop a long-term plan of becoming ‘carbon neutral’ - no small task for campuses that are primarily scientific research laboratories.

    For UMBI, this goal is particularly significant since, by its very nature, biotechnology research requires the use of diverse and frequently energy-demanding equipment such as lasers, nuclear magnetic resonance, and x-ray machines. In addition, all our activities are conducted in laboratories that must, by definition, meet strict federal and state safety standards and ensure continual air exchanges to eliminate employee exposure to chemical fumes. However, we are confident that our efforts will be successful, through use of alternative energy sources and technologies, and through working with other schools to find new solutions to our energy needs.

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