Environmental Leadership Awards Announced

The Environmental Leadership Award (ELA) winners and finalists were recognized at an award ceremony on March 22, 2023. ELAs are a means of recognizing individuals or groups who have worked alone or as part of organizations to support sustainability efforts at UConn and beyond.  Nominations were submitted by faculty members, staff members, and students last fall. Nominees were evaluated by a committee appointed by the Office of Sustainability and Institute of the Environment. 

The Awardees of the 2019-2022 Environmental Leadership Awards are:


Undergraduate Student: Isabelle Hudson (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Anthropology ’23)

Hudson is said to “exemplify sustainability through her consistent, dedicated and persistent leadership as the president of the UConn Horticulture Club and as a student worker in the UConn Floriculture Greenhouses. As greenhouse worker, she strongly advocated for reducing pesticides and actively worked to use natural biocontrol to handle pest issues. As Horticulture Club president, she pushes for more greenery on campus. The recent Crossroads Café was decorated in plants grown in the UConn Floriculture Greenhouses – which improves mood and air quality for students.” Our winner also educates others. “She educates upwards of 40 student club members on environmental issues and actions they can take to make change. She even quells students’ fear of bees and bugs through her passion for conservation and the role they play in creating a healthy environment.” Isabelle Hudson “fosters curiosity and a love for nature in everyone she comes in contact with.”

Graduate Student: Dr. Ben North (MBA ’23)

Dr. Ben North has been a graduate student multiple times! He recently completed a PhD in Natural Resource Economics from the University of Florida focused on the sustainable development of bioenergy markets in the southeast. He is currently an MBA student at UConn, combining his environmental science background with enhanced business skills to push for better climate action. His nominator says, “He was an Innovation Fellow with UConn’s Technology Incubation Program, and worked with US energy generation and emissions data to provide insights to improve software for his host company, Unscrambl. He also was a UConn@COP fellow in 2022. He has continued to demonstrate long-term commitment to sustainability by working for several eco-organizations in Connecticut, including: the Connecticut Green Bank, the Highstead Foundation and Harvard Forest, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.” We’re also impressed by his active membership in the Connecticut Sustainable Business Council where he coordinates planning of the Climate Action Business Summit. He’s also active on the UConn Student Managed Fund MBA Team where he pushes for environmental sustainability considerations in investing their $1.1 million portfolio.

Faculty: Dr. Jamie Vaudrey (Marine Biology)

Dr. Vaudrey was nominated on the basis of excellence in outreach, academics and teamwork in support of the environment. On outreach, her nominator shared “Communicating science is the fiber that runs through all of her research and teaching. She does this across a broad array of stakeholders, shaping the stewardship trajectories of watersheds regionally and seagrass ecosystems worldwide. Her leadership roles in professional societies and on advisory councils have pushed for more integration of scientific results into decision making and broadened participation of underrepresented groups in marine science. The success of establishing the Connecticut National Estuarine Research Reserve is largely due to this nominee who spearheaded the steering committee.” Additionally, “She works with Save the Sound and other public environmental education groups to engage citizens, senators, and federal agencies with nitrogen pollution and helped develop an Environmental Report Card for Long Island Sound. Her impact on understanding of environmental and sustainability in Connecticut’s local waters reaches far beyond the classroom.” Congratulations to Dr. Jamie Vaudrey who’s “compassion for nature and the future of Long Island Sound emanates from her everyday work, which is a key motivating force for every member of her team!”

Staff: Katie Milardo (Facilities)

Katie Milardo’s nominator described her as “always being overwhelmingly kind and open to discussing anything. She has gone above and beyond with answering questions about EcoMadness in addition to scheduling tours of the Co-Generation Facility. Facilities is a large and complicated department, but she makes it easy to navigate.” She also recently became the advisor of the re-vamped Soil and Water Conservation Society UConn Student chapter, which works toward natural resource conservation.

UConn Group: Spring Valley Student Farm

SVSF is described as “always trying new, innovative sustainability techniques to make the land healthier. They host bees and pollinators, don’t use herbicides and pesticides, and are working on activating solar energy.” The group also is haven for students – “Student volunteers are provided weekly transportation to the farm, making it accessible for students without cars. The new composting privy is ADA accessible and they host learning opportunities about local food insecurity, zero-waste, and tree production. They over a diversity of activities and show commitment to building sustainable, green community.”

Environmental Justice – Faculty: Dr. Elle Ouimet (Anthropology)

Dr. Ouimet advances action through teaching courses and advising extracurricular work that empowers students to make change locally and build community. She is the advisor for EcoHusky and has connected the club with Environmental Justice partners like Keney Park Sustainability Project. As her nominator shares, “She exemplifies conservation because she motivates students to explore their personal relationship with nature and promotes the use of sustainable goods and services. Her courses provide students with knowledge needed to critically engage with their personal role in climate change and its unequal impact on marginalized communities.” She is a champion for collaboration, building bridges across campus to create change. Lastly, her nominator shares “she has been the catalyst for so many student voices at UConn pushing for environmental equity on campus, while bringing a global, regional and local approach to teaching environmental justice.”

Environmental Justice – Student: Sydney Collins (Environmental Science ’23)

Sydney Collins has worked for UConn Student Government to promote alternative transportation, organizing a community ride day to boost cycling on campus. She connects this work to the many social improvements that biking offers – improved health and mood, and healthier air for all. Her nominator says, “She is a strong leader for the environment. Her leadership inspires me and others to work on environmental issues and to try and make change. She took on her roles at USG to help create solutions and improve UConn. She feels everyone has a voice and enables all to be part of the discussion.” Collins focuses on environmental justice in and out of class. Her nominator shares that “she is passionate and dedicated to achieving environmental justice for everyone and making sure everyone has an equal living situation and life. She goes above and beyond to fight for environmental justice – and that passion has inspired my life path.”


Graduate Student: Christabelle Calabretta (Law ’23)

Calabretta was nominated by a classmate who shares that she “has excelled in our environmental and climate law classes at UConn Law. She is an outstanding leader on our campus and helped develop and found the Energy and Environmental Law Negotiation Competition at UConn Law. She conducted research for CIRCA and is working to publish a paper on the fashion industry’s impact on climate change.” The Office of Sustainability grew familiar with this finalist during COP27 as a UConn@COP fellow. At COP and back at home, she has been a mentor to underclassmen and an inspiration on staying engaged and educated on environmental matters and ways to promote justice. She recently was offered a fellowship at DesegregateCT, which has a strong environmental justice component. Her nominator says, “She is a leader in environmental academics and outreach on UConn Law’s campus and deserves to be recognized for her efforts to grow an environmental law community.”

Faculty: Dr. Oksan Bayulgen (Political Science) Dr. Mike Dietz (CT Institute of Water Resources)

Dr. Bayulgen is described as “a tireless advocate of sustainability on the UConn campus and globally throughout her career. She has led students participating in the United Nations climate change conference and lent her expertise on renewable energy and sustainability practices to enhance UConn’s purchasing policies. She had developed innovative courses integral to the GenEd Sustainability mandate and Human Rights coursework. She leads with integrity and compassion and is a masterful consensus-builder, while deeply committed to ensuring equity in the process of economic growth.” Dr. Oksan Bayulgen is “the best example of a scholar-advocate and a leading voice on these issues globally”!

Dr. Dietz also received glowing remarks from his nominator. “He is always looking for practical ways to bridge findings from scientific research to the lifestyles of everyone outside of our academic system. He promotes public health and community knowledge in many ways. He began a low cost well water testing program for rural areas of Connecticut, identifying toxins that otherwise are prohibitively costly to detect. He’s also put on the Green Snow Pro program to educate state and municipal workers on environmentally conscious salt application – this directly improves human, plant and aquatic health. His joint Stormwater Corps course demonstrates to students how to create environmental change in towns through green stormwater infrastructure installation, combining theory with practice. His unconventional routes as a professor helps students see the world from different perspectives. He never misses an opportunity to meet with students individually.” From Dr. Dietz’s graduate student, “I know that I have a one-in-a-million advisor. If Mike Dietz has done anything in the past year, he’s given me countless reasons to pursue a lifetime in environmental research and conservation.”

Green Careers Panel 3.30.23

What: An interdisciplinary panel of experts, designed to inform students on the ways in which their desired career path can intersect with sustainability and the environment. A green career does not have to be one solely in the environmental field! Green careers are found in business, art, science, education, government, and more. The GCP will help you as a student find a career that connects your unique talents and interests with sustainability. This is also an Honors event! (Categories: Career, Professional, & Personal Development OR Social Change, Service, & Sustainability – #UHLevent10468)


When: Thursday, March 30th, from 5:30-6:45PM


Where: BPB (Bio Physics Building), room 130

91 N. Eagleville Road, Storrs CT 06269

Who: see our list of panelists below! Students of any and all majors are encouraged to attend. Green careers are not limited to environmental majors! We want to show you all how your majors can be related to a green career.


Why: The Earth is facing an imminent crisis: climate change. We will need all hands on deck to make progress in our goals as a global community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save our planet. We at the OS want to show YOU, all the students here at UConn, that ‘green’ does not have to mean strictly environmental science. Our panelists include engineers, businesspeople, and more – sustainability initiatives can be incorporated into any job! There is a place for all of you in the fight for sustainability and environmental justice; you all have a role to play, big or small.




Dr. Sean Bradshaw, Senior Technical Fellow for Propulsion at Pratt & Whitney

Dr. Bradshaw is the senior technical fellow for sustainability propulsion at Pratt & Whitney. His primary focus is on the development of advanced aircraft propulsion technologies that enable the aviation industry to reduce its environmental footprint. Dr. Bradshaw is the chairman of the Gas Turbine Association, the chairman of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Gas Turbine Technology Group, an associate editor of the Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power, a member of the ASME Heat Transfer Committee, and an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University. Dr. Bradshaw is also a recipient of the BEYA Professional Achievement in Industry Award, and received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from MIT.



Samuel King, Co-owner of Blue Earth Compost, Inc.

Samuel King is an experienced sustainability entrepreneur and advocate in the fields of waste, energy, and climate change. He is a co-owner of Blue Earth Compost in Hartford, CT, where he works in various roles relating to the growth and management of the business. As an advocate, Mr. King has been involved as a community organizer in fighting fossil fuel projects locally and nationally. Mr. King’s work now centers around finding solutions for a transition to a sustainable waste infrastructure in CT. Sam is a 2014 graduate of UMass Amherst with a BA. Sc. in Sustainable Community Development.



Aziz Dehkan, Executive Director and Lead Organizer of CT Roundtable on Climate and JobsAziz dekhan portrait

Aziz Dehkan was born and raised in New York City. With a degree in Biological Sciences from Rutgers University, Aziz built an award-winning passive-solar house and started one of the first organic farms in New Jersey.

In management and development roles, Aziz has worked for social and environmental justice organizations including The Coalition for the Homeless, STRIVE, The Fortune Society, and Mother Jones. As a community organizer and Executive Director of the NYC Community Garden Coalition, in response to structural racism, he has led the fight for land tenure and food security. Aziz served on the steering committee for the People’s Climate Movement rallies in NYC, Washington DC and #Sandy5.

Aziz is the current Executive Director and Lead Organizer of the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, which builds alliances among diverse constituencies to combat climate change, create jobs and promote racial, economic and environmental justice. In 2021The Roundtable passed historically significant legislation that attaches strong Labor standards on larger renewable energy projects in CT. The Roundtable’s most recent legislative action is The Carbon Free Healthy School Initiative, a Statewide Bill that seeks to rehab, renovate, and rebuild schools throughout CT.

He is now living in Clinton, CT with his wife, Barbara Moss, and their 13-yr-old dog, Tinkerbell. A dyed-in-the-wool pacifist, Aziz enjoys boxing as a challenging workout form, fully recognizing the irony of this choice. An enthusiastic cook, he loves American roots music, live theater, and the Yankees; dreams of a free Iran, and is grateful for the ocean’s positive ions.

Aziz is tirelessly searching for progressive solutions that support justice, equality, and liberation and disrupting the status quo.


Emma MacDonald, Environmental Analyst for CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Emma MacDonald portraitEmma MacDonald is a passionate environmentalist and educator. They grew up in Northwest CT, where they garnered a love and respect for nature. Emma attended UConn for their BS in Natural Resources (their focus was Sustainable Forest Resources and their minor was in Ornamental Horticulture). During their time at UConn, they were an intern at the University’s Office of Sustainability and the President of EcoHusky. She graduated in May 2021 and went on to become a nature educator at Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust for the 2021 Summer Camp session. She then became a Seasonal Resource Assistant for the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP’s) New England Cottontail Program. At this position they trapped rabbits for a breeding program and collected data for a joint DEEP-UConn research project. They also assisted with the Waterfowl and White-Tailed Deer programs before the temporary position ended, at which point they began their current job as an Environmental Analyst in DEEP’s Sustainable Materials Management Group (SMM). In SMM, Emma works on various projects such as interactive GIS mapping projects intended to make sustainable practices more accessible as well as website editing, supporting the CT Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management, and community outreach and engagement through recycling presentations and social media. Emma hopes to continue to prioritize accessibility and connection to people and nature in their work as they move forward in their career.

OS Internship Application Open!

The Office of Sustainability is Hiring!

The Office of Sustainability is hiring a new cohort of interns. These paid internships provide excellent work experience, hone leadership skills, and set students up for success in environmental positions after graduating. Please apply to our team of sustainability-minded student interns. Positions are 8-12 hours per week and will begin Fall ’23. Interns deal with all kinds of sustainability topics – from energy use to environmental communications. All majors welcome!

Apply by 11:59pm on April 19th

Must be a current first-year or a second-year student pursuing a bachelor’s degree at UConn


Student-Led Sustainability Projects funded by Office of Sustainability

The Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants Program, run by the Office of Sustainability and Institute of the Environment, awarded  seven student teams working to elevate sustainability in Connecticut.

Spring valley student farm greenhouse

UConn has ambitiously committed to being carbon-neutral by 2030, and has a successful track record of incorporating sustainability into its operations, education and student opportunities. Students play an important role in elevating sustainability at UConn, and the latest round of Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants (ESSSG) awards supports them.

Started by the Office of Sustainability and Institute of the Environment in 2021, the ESSSG program competitively funds student-led initiatives that enhance environmental and social sustainability for UConn communities. Applications for this round spanned everything from graduate-level engineering research to planet-friendly farming practices.

Seven projects were awarded funds due to their interdisciplinary nature and ability to advance both sustainability and equity.

Non-Violence Mindfulness Training for Environmental Justice and Mother Earth Day Festival

This project will offer non-violence embodiment training to students, held by students and national experts. It’ll culminate in a campus event around Mother Earth Day for the students and other groups to showcase art and connect to the UCONN community by teaching embodiment and non-violence.

  • Students: Juan Pablo Yepes Tobon ’24 (CLAS), Laura Augenbraun ’24 (CLAS)
  • Faculty Mentors: Phoebe Godfrey, Professor-in-Residence of Sociology, Stacy Maddern – Assist. Professor-in-Residence of Urban and Community Studies

Renewed Outdoor Classroom and Chestnut Orchard

Locally and sustainably-sourced raw materials will be produced by students to create infrastructure for teaching, outreach, meeting, and artistic performance space that is ADA accessible. This project will also materially advance development of a planned American chestnut seed orchard.

  • Students: Isaac Betts ‘23 (CAHNR), Andrew Muller ’23 (CAHNR), Zachary Bates ‘23 (CAHNR)
  • Faculty Mentors: Thomas Worthley, Extension Educator Forest Sustainability, Robert Fahey, UConn Forest Director and Assoc. Professor

Huskies for Harkness

Huskies for Harkness is an initiative immersing New London high school students into conservation and sustainability, addressing the systemic barriers surrounding historically gatekept fields. It does this through a vocational enrichment trip to Harkness Memorial Park, focusing on education, engagement, and exploration.

  • Students: Jessica Bostick ‘23 (CAHNR), EcoHuskies
  • Faculty Mentor: Eleanor Shoreman-Ouimet, Assist. Professor of Anthropology

UConn Gleaning Corps

The Spring Valley Student Farm Gleaning Interns will assist the Windham Community Food Network to expand gleaning in Eastern CT. Gleaning is the practice of harvesting excess produce that doesn’t get sent to market, and is instead used to support people experiencing food insecurity. The student farmers will harvest, wash and deliver produce to various pantries in the Willimantic area. They’ll also develop a training guide to be used by volunteers to keep the program running in the future.

  • Students: Sydney Clements, Ph.D. Candidate in Geography
  • Staff Mentor: Jessica Larkin-Wells, Farm Manager, Spring Valley Student Farm

Reimagining a Community Garden

EcoGarden is reimagining the student club’s garden space. Educational signage, a new composting area, a variety of new perennial plants, and an outdoor picnic area are coming to EcoGarden. Community gardens help tackle the issues of climate change and food deserts.

  • Students: Kristopher Dow ’24 (ENG, CLAS), EcoGarden Club
  • Staff Mentor: Jessica Larkin-Wells, Farm Manager, Spring Valley Student Farm

Ecoposium, UConn

Ecoposium, UConn is an organization that serves to plan and promote UConn’s first student-led environmental symposium. The club strives to spread awareness and educate the UConn community about relevant environmental issues through symposium sessions covering environmental topics elected by the organization.

  • Students: Claire Lee ’24 (CLAS), Ecoposium Club
  • Faculty Mentors: David Wagner, Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Scott Wallace, Assoc. Professor of Journalism

Material World: Design for a Healthful and Equitable Future

This project will create an interactive and sustainably-built pop-up exhibition educating students on the impacts of environmentally and socially sustainable design methods and materials aimed at empowering them to act as agents of change in their professional careers and personal lives.

  • Students: Cameron Slocum ’23 (SFA)
  • Faculty Mentors: Chris Sancomb, Assist. Professor of Industrial Design, Shareen Hertel, Professor of Political Science

“This signature program catalyzes and supports entrepreneurial activities by students, who co-design projects with faculty and staff mentors.  The resulting projects represent authentic, collaborative experiences that substantively enrich educational experiences and that enhance sustainable practices that intimately integrate social responsibility. It is clear that our students are making a difference and are leading efforts to make the world more just and more resilient!”, says Michael Willig, Executive Director of the Institute of the Environment.

“Despite “small” in being in the name of this grant program, I believe that these grants will leave a large impact on our community, even beyond the environmental sphere. Thanks to the Office of Sustainability, the hard work of our team at Ecoposium, UConn, and the endless support of our faculty advisors, we are excited to utilize these funds in supporting the university’s first student-run environmental symposium this semester. My hope is for members of the UConn community from all disciplines to be able to come together through this event under a shared love and commitment to the environment,” shares Claire Lee, president and founder of student organization Ecoposium, UConn.

Students will present their project findings and impacts at the Climate Change Café in early Spring’24.

For more details on the Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants Program, please visit:

UConn Recognized as a Bicycle Friendly University

Bicycle Friendly University Bronze Ranking


UConn has been named among a group of higher education institutions nationwide to receive “Bicycle Friendly University” status for the first time, a designation that recognizes its work to support and encourage bicycling as a healthy, environmentally friendly transportation option.

Read the full story on UConn Today:

UConn Recognized as ‘Bicycle Friendly University,’ First Time it has Received the National Designation

COP27 Fellow Dr. Ben North Featured in CT Sustainable Business Council

Ben North in front of Cop27 sign

Dr. Ben North, a graduate MBA student and COP27 fellow, was recently interviewed by the Connecticut Sustainable Business Council.

An excerpt:

It’s very difficult to get an invitation to attend COP27. What made it possible for you? 

Attending the COP27 would not have been possible without the critical coordination and fundraising support provided by the UConn Office of Sustainability through the UConn@COP Fellowship program. This year, 14 students and seven faculty and staff members attended the conference from UConn. Funding for the program comes from a variety of sources, including business sponsors, alumni donors, and university departments and professors. The UConn@COP Fellowship program depends on the continued support from these donors every year to give students access to this transformative experience as part of their time at UConn. 


Read the full article:

UConn Ranked in Top 10 Most Sustainable Universities

Published in UConn Today on 12.23.2022:

UConn recognized as a top-performing institution by the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) and UI GreenMetric World University Rankings.

UConn continues to lead sustainability in higher education. The Sustainable Campus Index tracks universities’ efforts to improve performance in 17 sustainability impact areas, measured by STARS. This year, UConn was ranked 6th overall. The STARS process helps institutions all over the world measure, report and strengthen their contributions to sustainability.

Besides being #6 overall, UConn has the distinction of being one of 12 STARS Platinum-rated schools out of 1,105 participating institutions. When digging into the 2022 ratings, UConn excelled in a few categories:


#1 – Campus Engagement: Providing co-curricular activities that allow students, faculty and staff to deepen their understanding of sustainability. These efforts help integrate sustainability into campus culture and encourage more eco-friendly behavior change.

#1 – Public Engagement: Working with community members, governments, businesses and nonprofits to foster solutions to sustainability challenges. Examples include partnerships, community service, and public policy participation.

#2 (tie) – Water: Conserving water, effectively managing rainwater, and protecting groundwater supplies. These efforts reduce energy usage and improve local water ecosystem health.

#4 – Food & Dining: Designing dining programs that support local farms, environmentally friendly farming methods, agricultural worker equity, and uphold sustainable food systems (e.g. meatless dining).

#7 – Curriculum: Equipping students with learning opportunities in sustainability, including courses, living laboratories, immersive experiences and sustainability literacy.


STARS, a program of The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), is a self-reporting system that measures colleges’ and universities’ performances in several aspects of sustainability.

The framework scores institutions in 17 different impact areas. These include air and climate, buildings, energy, research, and grounds. Schools that earn the greatest percentage of possible points for each area are named top performers.

UConn joined the international network of STARS institutions in 2013, when it was designated as a Reporter. The University then achieved Gold status in 2016, 2017, and 2018. It was rated Platinum for the first time in 2020.

Erin Lindsay  ’23 (CLAS), a Senior Sustainability Intern at the UConn Office of Sustainability, is proud of the impressive ranking, but acknowledged there is still room for improvement.

“Participating in AASHE STARS gives our university the opportunity to be recognized within our community and beyond at the state and even national levels. We perform extremely well in areas related to student engagement and outreach which is a direct result of our incredible student body,” Lindsay says.

“With that being said, STARS also brings light to areas where we need more focus, especially at the institutional level,” she says. “We need greater emphasis on sustainable investments, especially those related to purchasing and energy in order to meet our campus-wide sustainability goals.”

UConn also ranked as the 2022 8th Most Sustainable University by the University of Indonesia’s GreenMetric World University Rankings program. GreenMetric measures 39 indicators in six criteria related to university environmental commitments and initiatives. Over 950 institutions participate across the globe.

Sustainability initiatives at the University contribute to its Platinum rating and top marks in GreenMetric. These include the EcoMadness conservation competition, UConn@COP program, and environmental literacy requirement. Learn more about UConn’s sustainability initiatives and goals at the Office of Sustainability website.

Head over to UConn Today to read the original story:

President Radenka Maric: Climate Action & Sustainability


To the UConn Community,


Yesterday, UConn organized a conference called Navigating Climate Change & Energy Security in the Northeast, bringing together educators, industry, state legislators, and our U.S. senators and representatives. Climate change is an existential threat, and we are fully committed to being a national leader in education, research innovation, and technology deployment to combat it. In addition, as the president of UConn and an internationally recognized expert in clean energy, I will work with the state, the federal government, donors, industry, and global partners to reduce UConn’s carbon footprint to carbon neutral by 2030.


UConn is already working closely with the state and industry to participate in new technology development, including making use of hydrogen as a clean energy source. Hydrogen can potentially play an important role in addressing the climate crisis, energy security, and resiliency. Though there are still significant challenges, zero and low-carbon hydrogen can be a key part of a comprehensive portfolio of solutions to achieve a sustainable and equitable clean energy future.


In 2019 when the President’s Working Group on Sustainability and the Environment examined UConn’s carbon emission reduction goals and our progress to achieving them, the landscape was different than it is today. As we were reminded yesterday during the conference by Senator Blumenthal and others, in November 2021 Congress passed and President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Public Law 117-58), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This historic, once-in-a-generation legislation authorizes and appropriates $62 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), including $9.5 billion for clean hydrogen.


Furthermore, in August 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law (Public Law 117-169), which provides additional policies and incentives for hydrogen, including a production tax credit that will further boost a U.S. market for clean hydrogen. Moreover, Connecticut, under Public Act 22-5 (2022) requires 100% zero-emission electricity to be supplied to in-state electric consumers by 2040. Thus, the nation, the state, and UConn are stepping up to accelerate progress in zero-carbon emissions through unprecedented investments in clean and sustainable energy sources and technologies, which includes planning for the creation of our own microgrid at UConn.


Our Sustainability Action Plan will be posted on the president’s website in the spring and will clearly outline our vision, goals, and targets for sustainability initiatives on our campuses and in our communities. We will post the new initiatives monthly and annually review our goals and achievements to help us understand where we are going and how we will get there. UConn’s leaders and experts in clean energy will work closely with our many students who are passionate and active in the area of sustainability and the environment, focused on addressing climate change and environmental equity.


Over the years, significant investments have been made in many areas at UConn, including research, education, planning, staffing, conservation, infrastructure, and operations. Our next step will be the deployment of clean energy technologies, such as those capable of capturing the CO2 created by our co-generation plant. U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm visited UConn in May 2022 to highlight the importance of clean energy, noting UConn’s major contributions to the field. She stated: “It’s just really an exciting time to be in this energy space. We feel like we’re in the middle of history being made.”


At UConn, we have a legacy of making that history. I would like to summarize our Sustainability Performance Plan and ongoing implementation efforts toward that future and define obtainable goals for the 2022-2023 academic years.




  • As of FY2021, UConn has achieved a 45% reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions below the benchmark year of 2001 while nearly doubling the size of the Storrs campus via the UConn 2000 and Next Generation Connecticut programs. This growth is required for UConn to develop the talent required to meet the challenges of climate change. This places UConn well ahead of the state’s interim goal of a 45% reduction by 2030 as we move toward reducing our carbon footprint to carbon neutral by 2030.


  • Our intense focus has been on addressing Scope 1 (direct from sources controlled by UConn) and Scope 2 (indirect from the purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling) emissions which originate from the need to power, heat, and cool the university. First, by reducing the overall amount of energy required through Conservation Measures, UConn has achieved a significantly lower carbon footprint than peers such as Cornell and UMass Amherst. Secondly, by reducing purchased energy using state-of-the-art combined heat and power, which is cleaner than the regional grid and allows 90% of campus power to be produced while capturing enough exhaust energy to heat and cool 67% of the campus – all with zero additional carbon required.


  • At our Depot Campus, UConn commissioned our new HyAxiom Fuel Cell on Aug. 16, 2022, which provides 100% of the power required for the campus plus cooling for our Center of Clean Energy Engineering (C2E2) high bay research laboratories. This Power Purchase Agreement provides state-of-the-art technology that is hydrogen economy ready. The concepts and research within C2E2 are realized immediately outside the lab in a viable commercial partnership which significantly lowers emissions and operating costs.


  • Governor Lamont has positioned Connecticut to become a leader developing the hydrogen economy as a founding member of the regional clean hydrogen hubs designated through the federal Clean Hydrogen Hubs program included in the 2021 federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). UConn is partnering with our peers in New York, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The IIJA includes historic levels of funding for hydrogen research and development as well as deployment of clean hydrogen infrastructure. UConn’s longstanding leadership in fuel cell development positions us as leaders in hydrogen development since fuel cell technology can produce, store, and generate electricity from hydrogen.


Several other locations for renewable energy are being evaluated at UConn and UConn Health. Our new South Campus Residence Hall and Mansfield Apartments projects are evaluating the synergy of geothermal systems with hydrogen economy ready fuel cell systems and combined heat and power microgrid systems for resiliency. Our new Science 1 research building opening this academic year will have a 520-kW solar PV roof to complement the Werth Residence Hall solar PV, which has avoided more than 241,000 pounds of CO2 since 2017.


Facilities Operations is essential to operating and maintaining the renewable and sustainable assets on our campuses. A reorganization of leadership is in process to refocus resources in the world of climate change and carbon footprint reduction. The life cycle costs of carbon, social justice, equity, market availability, and future proofing will be included in the calculations to determine project viability. This retooling takes existing resources and sets priorities to accelerate our current sustainability efforts, seeking to double the historic rate of reduction to meet the increasing pace of global warming. Facilities Operations has transitioned its Transportation staff into Scope 3 (result of activities from non-UConn controlled assets that impact the value chain) emissions reduction task force.


Research teams are essential to tackling the growing threats of climate change. Opportunities are abundant for our students and staff to engage on topics as diverse as Extreme Weather and Its Impact on Our Shorelines and Critical Infrastructure, Removing Microplastics from Wastewater, Sustaining the Food Supply, Diversity and Inclusion, Human Rights on Global and Local Scales, Eversource Energy Center Storm Outage Prediction, and Microgrid Resiliency.


We started a climate venture studio to attract new start-up companies to UConn and Connecticut with the significant support of R/GA Ventures and our state. Learn more at:


The entire UConn community can serve as champions for fighting climate change and in supporting clean energy implementation, and we will provide significant workforce development for our state in this area.


We are putting our university on an accelerated path to net zero emissions for buildings and our energy supply as well as significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to become carbon neutral by 2030.


As I said, I believe in our students and am looking forward to working together and inspiring even greater student engagement in the fight against climate change and for green energy.


Leading with love for all,




UConn is a great university.

But it’s more than that. A top-ranked research institution, with campuses and staff across Connecticut, built to inspire the global community that is UConn Nation. UConn’s talented students exceed expectations. Our expert researchers, faculty, staff, and alumni drive Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (CIE) for a better tomorrow. We fuel the State’s economy and are committed to inclusivity in benefiting the greater good. This is UConn.




Dr. Radenka Maric

President | University of Connecticut
Office of the President: 860.486.2337


Twitter: @UConnPresident

Instagram: @UConnPres

The Case for Not Despairing Over the Fate of the Earth – Podcast

Institute of the Environment Executive Director Mike Willig was recently featured on the UConn360 podcast!

Episode 102: The Case for Not Despairing Over the Fate of the Earth

We’re joined by Michael Willig, executive director of the Institute of the Environment and a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, who talks about why he doesn’t lose hope even in the face of grim news about the climate and environment. One of the things that encourages him is the work that UConn is doing on a number of fronts, which he tells us about. He also discusses what it was like to start his field career in a remote corner of Brazil, and how that taught him about more than just evolutionary biology. Afterwards, we travel back to the Golden Age of Radio to meet a UConn professor reluctant to relive his childhood celebrity.

Listen to the episode HERE!