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UMD Sustainability
“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Progress Reports

Our mission

The Office of Sustainability and the UMD campus are committed to communicating, educating, and inspiring action to integrate sustainability into all aspects of campus life.  

For a quick overview of sustainable progress on campus, see UMD Sustainability by the Numbers - an infographic created by Sustainability Graphic Design Intern, Jordan Woodland.

Our Progress


2020 Spring Newsletter

2019 Fall Newsletter

2018 Fall Newsletter

2018 Spring Newsletter

2017 Fall Newsletter

Annual Reports

2018-2019 Annual Report

2017-2018 Annual Report

2016-2017 Annual Report

2015-2016 Annual Report

2014-2015 Annual Report

2013-2014 Annual Report

UMN Systemwide Sustainability Report

2018 Sustainability Times

2017 Sustainability Times

2016 Sustainability Times 

We want to hear your ideas!

Sustainability is an effort that is dependent on input and support from students, faculty and staff. Please contact us to help make UMD a more sustainable campus.

Take Action

Volunteer Opportunities– Look here for unique and fun ways to get involved around UMD and meet other passionate students that share your drive for a sustainable campus!

Sustainability Leadership Certificate - Kirby Leadership Institute now offers a sustainability track!

Student Projects– Want to move sustainability progress forward at UMD? See past projects and check out our Project Ideas List for current needs. 

Student Organizations - Pursue your passion outside the classroom and join (or create) a sustainability-focused Student Organization.

SELFsustain - Attend the annual Student Engagement Leadership Forum on Sustainability to share ideas, empower each other, and make progress on sustainability projects across the UMN system!

Sustainability Committee  Join a sustainability sub-committee dedicated to guiding our campus and helping us reach our sustainability goals.

Green Revolving Fund - Apply for funding for an energy-related project. 

Green Office Certification - Get a sustainability rating for your office/department and see how you measure up!

Sustainability Inspiration Awards - Nominate a student, staff, or faculty for their sustainability efforts

Tips & Tricks - Learn a few new tips and tricks to be more sustainable-- both on campus and off.

Campus Initiatives

Reducing UMD’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions 

As a signatory of the Second Nature Carbon Commitment, UMD is committed to reduce its emissions by 25% from 2007 levels by 2020 and become a carbon neutral institution by 2050. By using fewer resources and reducing emissions UMD is not only having a smaller impact on the environment but is also saving money. Current campus initiatives that aim to reduce our campus carbon footprint are available on the menu to your left.

Progress Toward the Goal

In 2007, the Sustainability Office inventoried campus carbon emissions for the first time and calculated UMD’s carbon footprint to be 57,562 metric tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). The most recent calculation in 2019 was 47,779 metric tons of CO2e, a 17% reduction over the 2007 baseline. 

Shows GHG emission for UMD from 2007-2020

Emission reductions have fluctuated over the years. Some reasons for this include extremely cold winters, adding 4+ new buildings on campus, and uncertainties in calculations. Despite the weather and increased square footage, UMD’s emissions have remained relatively flat due to investments in energy efficiency across campus. These efficiency investments have enabled UMD to bring new buildings online while keeping emission reduction progress moving forward.

What’s included in UMD’s GHG Emissions?

About 90% of campus emissions come from two sources: 1.) the steam plant that heats and cools campus buildings with the use of natural gas and 2.) electricity purchased to power campus. The remaining 10% includes commuting, air travel, refrigerants, UMD vehicles, solid waste, and applied fertilizers. 

Shows te breakdown of 2019 GHG emissions by source

Campus Initiatives

Reducing emissions requires planning and investment at a large scale, such as upgrading buildings and systems for greater efficiency and investing in renewable energy sources (See UMD's Energy Action Plan). Reducing emissions also requires small-scale efforts at the department, office, and individual levels -- conserving energy, recycling and composting, and flying less are things we can all do as part of the UMD community to participate in reducing our campus carbon footprint. Explore the tabs to the left to learn more about our current campus initiatives.  

Looking for data?

Access available Data on UMD Campus Operations. (Note: UMD baseline year for Carbon Commitment goals is 2007.)


Tri-fold image display. Left image is of produce aisle in grocery store; middle photo is of a sea turtle and final image on the right is people crossing the street

UMD Tackes the Earth Day Ecochallenge

May 6, 2020

A UMN system-wide team joined a worldwide commitment to sustainability through the month of April
aerial shot of two people running on a trail next to Lake Superior

Staff Picks: Discover Duluth

May 5, 2020

Take time during finals to explore some nature spots picked by our staff
View from space of the Great Lakes in the left corner

Make a Call for Earth

April 22, 2020

Let your representatives know how important protecting our planet is this Earth Day.
grassy field with blossoming tree

April: A Month of Sustainable Celebrations

April 16, 2020

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we’re sharing some good news in sustainability from this past month.
aerial view of the UMD campus and surrounding city of Duluth

How to Care for Your Community and Yourself During COVID-19

March 30, 2020

We are living in an unprecedented time. One of the best ways to get through this is to help each other.
fishing boats are parked on the beach with trees in the background

Sustainability Abroad #4: Consorcio Porlamar

March 23, 2020

This sustainable cooperative protects local fishing zones and promotes wellbeing for both the sea and surrounding community.
Rob Greenfield stands on stage in auditorium with screen behind him of a picture of him covered in garbage

Sustainability Abroad #3: Universidad VERITAS

March 11, 2020

Universidad VERITAS prides itself on sustainability and celebrated with multiple activities during Sustainability Day on March 3

Garbage Disposal

March 1, 2020

Increasing the awareness of proper trash sorting was the goal of a class project.
farm with students working

Sustainability Abroad #2: Finca la Flor

February 24, 2020

From barren pasture to a reforested, sustainable community, Finca la Flor has empowered the community and environment around it for decades...

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions at UMD

February 23, 2020

How has UMD reduced its greenhouse gas emissions since 2007 and how do we plan on meeting our reduction goals?


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Education & Research

At the University of Minnesota Duluth, students, faculty and staff actively work to find solutions to the challenges that face our communities and our world.

Develop a Project - Students play a large role in moving sustainability progress forward at UMD. If you need an idea for your next class project, student org event, or want an opportunity to lead an initiative on campus, you've come to the right place. Completed student projects are also available for review and to generate ideas. 

Take a Class – Learn about sustainability through coursework through many different lenses and disciplines.

Take a Tour – Sustainability is integrated not just in our classes, but throughout our campus buildings and landscapes too. Schedule a tour for a hands-on look into what it takes to build, maintain, and operate a sustainable campus.

Discover Research – UMD is a recognized leader in research and has many research centers, institutes, and laboratories that involve students in sustainable research projects every day, and in a variety of fields. Diverse topics such as energy systems, sustainable food, and alternative transportation are just some of the issues tackled by UMD researchers.

Design Curriculum – The Education Toolkit is a resource for faculty and staff who want to integrate sustainability concepts into their events, lessons, courses, or syllabi.

Join the Institute on the Environment at UMD - The Institute's mission is to build a future where people and planet prosper together. 



Sustainability Fair: Free Store, Food, Films & Art

October 10 | Kirby Ballroom | 10am - 3pm

Join us in celebrating National Campus Sustainability Month by attending the annual UMD Sustainability Fair! 

Thursday, October 10th
10am - 3pm
Kirby Ballroom


Each year, we invite campus departments, student groups, and local businesses, nonprofits, and governmental organizations to table at the fair to showcase their sustainability efforts and practices. Please check back often as we update the list of confirmed exhibitors. 

  • Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center
  • KirbyLEAD
  • UMD Land Lab
  • Clean Snowmobile Club (student org)
  • Ecolibrium3
  • Regional Stormwater Protection Team (home of the Poop Fairy)
  • MN Army National Guard Environmental Sustainability Dept. 
  • Whole Foods Co-Op
  • Duluth Coffee Company
  • MPIRG at UMD (student org)
  • Dahl's Sunrise Dairy
  • UMD Stormwater
  • American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO)
  • UMD SUN Delegation (student org)
  • Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
  • Minnesota Power
  • KUMD 
  • Student Sustainability Coalition (student org)
  • Our Mississippi Our Future

Winter Free Store Pop-up

Donations of warm clothing (jackets, sweaters, flannels, hats, gloves, scarves, and boots) and being collected NOW through Oct. 8 and will be given away through the Winter Free Store Pop-up. Anyone can donate and any current UMD student can shop the Free Store to get something new for the coming winter. There will be an item limit per shopper, which will be determined based on the number of donations received. 

Short Films 

We will be showing a wide variety of short films that relate to the wide range of sustainability topics. Categories of films will include: food, zero waste, energy, transportation, conservation, activism, gender equity, and more. We will post the list of films and approximate showing times below as films are selected. 

UMD Sustainability Fair| Short Film Fest | Title, Length, Description & Link

Art & Student Work

Have you produced art, research, or a class project that relates to sustainability and would like the chance to showcase it during the fair? If so, please fill out this Google Form: Art & Student Work submissions.

**You are welcome, but not required, to be present with your work. Please indicate your preference on the form.**

Free Food!

The fair happens during fall harvest, which makes for great local food items. This year, we will showcase Butternut Squash Soup, made with squash from our own UMD Farm. We will also have a variety of apples to taste test. Exhibitors may also be offering samples of their goods.

Low/Zero Waste Commitment

We are committed to hosting a low waste event. All food provided at the fair will be served in compostable products and we encourage our exhibitors to only provide giveaway items that are recyclable or compostable. You can contribute to this low waste event by Bringing Your Own reusable items: bowl for soup, apples, and other food items; utensils; mug or water bottle. We each have a role to play in the journey to zero waste and your choices matter! 


The most hassle-free way to spend time at UMD is to ride the DTA and get dropped off at the front door! Use the DTA Trip Planner to help get you to campus quickly and efficiently. If you drive, Pay Lot G (pink on map) is your best bet. Enter campus by the library and walk straight to Kirby Student Center. 


If you have questions about the Sustainability Fair or would like more information about any of the above aspects of the fair, please contact Joe Murphy,, Sustainability Student Assistant. 


Activities Coordinator
KPLz 245B
(218) 726-6245
Sustainability Student Assistant
KPlz 245
Joe Murphy holding a giant squash or gourd
Sustainability Student Assistant
KPlz 245
Sustainability Student Assistant
Alaina Lawrence
Sustainability Student Assistant
KPlz 245
Sustainability Student Assistant