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UMass Chan Medical School Wins State Climate Award

At a virtual awards ceremony in December, UMass Chan Medical School received a 2020 Leading by Example Award from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs in recognition of the school’s successful initiatives to improve energy efficiency and sustainability on campus.

The annual award recognizes state entities that have made important strides in helping the Commonwealth achieve an energy efficient and sustainable future.

“We appreciate this recognition from our peers at the state. It’s a mark of progress for the school, which is enabled by so many members of our campus community who take actions that make a real difference,” said Suzanne Wood, associate director of sustainability and campus services at UMass Chan.

The Medical School was recognized for a wide range of initiatives, including designing new buildings to LEED standards, supporting off-site solar electrical generation, promoting electric vehicle use, and completing HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and lighting improvement projects that have reduced energy use, saved potable water, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

For example, the completion of a retro-commissioning project to improve efficiencies at the Lazare Research Building will cut annual electric use by 2.8 million kilowatt-hours and save 172,000 therms of natural gas. The school also recently redesigned the air-handling system used to heat and cool a clinical pharmacy unit, which needs to operate 24-7. The new system was segregated from other areas of the building which are not in continuous use, saving 316,000 kilowatt-hours and 107,000 therms of natural gas annually.

For comparison, the average home in the United States uses 10,649 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. So, the savings from the LRB project is the equivalent of the electricity needed to power 263 homes for a year. The clinical pharmacy project saves the equivalent of electricity used in 29 homes annually.

While the UMass Chan campus has grown by several million square feet of built space in the past 15 years, energy use per-square-foot of building space has dropped 16 percent and greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 10 percent, thanks to the school’s sustainability programs.

“I am writing to again offer my congratulations on the Leading by Example Award,” Massachusetts Commissioner of Energy Resources Patrick C. Woodcock, wrote in a letter to UMass Chan Chancellor Michael F Collins. “UMass Chan Medical School has made significant progress in advancing clean energy priorities and implementing sustainability practices. These accomplishments are not possible without hard work and strong partnerships, and I commend you and your staff for your collective commitment and perseverance.”

The Leading by Example Program (LBE) was established in April 2007 by then-Governor Deval Patrick’s Executive Order No. 484, “Leading by Example—Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings.” The order establishes ambitious energy efficiency standards and goals for the operation of state buildings to advance use of clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. In addition, the LBE program promotes sustainability activities within state government, including waste reduction, water conservation, green buildings, alternative fuels, efficient transportation and recycling.