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Earth Day, every day

For more than 50 years, April 22 has been the universal day of celebration for the environmental movement. Earth Day remains an important symbol, however the work needed to achieve progress on climate action and sustainable practices for UMass Chan Medical School is a daily matter.

“The Earth Day vendor fair we used to have on campus was great, but it hasn’t been possible for a couple of years for obvious reasons,” said Suzanne Wood, associate director of facilities management for sustainability & campus services. “I hope this year, as people celebrate Earth Day, they will think about getting involved with the campus sustainability initiatives we’re working on now, every day.”

Specifically, the school has launched three working groups to lead the implantation of the goals promulgated in the UMass Chan Medical School Sustainability and Climate Action Plan for 2021-2026.  Examples of the goals include reducing emissions of the vehicles it uses on campus by 50 percent, reducing the solid waste generated on campus by 20 percent, and reducing energy use in all facilities through energy efficient technology and behavioral change.

There are three working groups, each with a different focus: Grounds and Transportation, which held its first meeting on Feb.2; Material Management, which launched on March 18, and Buildings and Energy, with its first meeting April 8.

“We’ve had a good start, with students and staff from several departments volunteering for these working groups, but we need more people to get involved,” Wood said. “These are not just high-level discussion sessions, these are working groups that get right into the details of what we can do specifically, quarter by quarter and year by year to effect change.”

Wood said anyone who would like to learn more about the working groups, or get involved now, should reach out to the Office of Sustainability by emailing for additional information.

To help facilitate the working groups, UMass Chan has engaged GreenerU, a consulting group that helps higher education and health care organizations mitigate the impacts of climate change. GreenerU also helped lead the planning process that generated campus’s new five-year plan.