A 2024 “Top Green College”
— Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2024 Edition

The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2024 Edition provides a comprehensive measure of a school’s performance as an environmentally aware and prepared institution.

According to the Princeton Review, the schools that were selected for the Guide to Green Colleges all have exceptional programs, policies, and practices related to sustainability and the environment. The 2024 Guide features profiles of 522 schools.

Environmental sustainability is woven into the fabric of Farmington, a leader in the region and an early adopter of energy-saving practices including recycling, renewable energy, and academic programs in Earth & Environmental Science and Geography & Environmental Planning. We are proud to be recognized by the Princeton Review for our dedication to an environmentally sustainable future.

UMF’s formal commitment to environmental sustainability began with the creation of the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition in 2001. Its Green Vision Statement in 2006 provided the foundation for sustainable practices to be an integral part of campus management leading to the construction of several LEED-certified campus buildings, the signing of the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment, and recognition by the U.S. House of Representatives for UMF’s efforts in making a clean energy campus a reality.

In 2016, UMF completed a biomass heating plant that burns locally sourced wood chips to heat close to 85% of the campus with renewable biomass. The UMF heating plant is projected to recoup construction costs through energy savings in the first 10 years of operation and is reducing the University’s carbon emissions by 4,000 tons per year.

A second biomass boiler was added to the UMF Biomass Plant in the summer of 2023 to heat campus hot water during the warmer months in late spring, summer and early fall. Both units will continue to use locally sourced Maine wood chips in place of fossil fuel and in support of the local economy.

UMF also entered into a contract with Trane, a leader in energy solutions, and its Energy Savings Performance program to increase the energy efficiency of campus facilities and lower campus operating costs.

The 18-month, $11 million energy project is being financed and paid back with energy savings and rebates generated by a series of sustainability-focused campus upgrades. Those upgrades will help the University achieve a 97% free-from-fossil-fuel target and are estimated to save the University $400,000 every year beginning in 2024.

A 2021-2022 “Most Affordable Eco-friendly College”
— Best Choice Colleges

Best Choice Colleges named the University of Maine at Farmington one of the Top #20 Most Affordable Eco-friendly Colleges in the Nation.

To decide the 50 Most Affordable Eco-Friendly Colleges, Best Choice Colleges consulted organizations such as the Sierra Club, U.S. News & World Report, and The Princeton Review to come up with American colleges and universities that have a solid reputation as “eco-friendly.”

From there, it consulted nearly 100 universities’ own websites to determine the annual undergraduate tuition. Finally, it ranked each university from lowest to highest annual tuition, in order to determine the 50 most affordable.

All of the schools on the list have unique structures or lifestyle characteristics that make them leaders in sustainability. They have all earned formal “green” ratings from one major agency or another, and most have been recognized by respected groups dedicated to protecting the environment

Whether you’re looking for an education in order to pursue a career in environmentalism, or are just interested in living a life of sustainability, Farmington is dedicated to the idea of sustainable living: a LEED-certified building, a sustainable biomass heating facility, geothermal wells for heating and cooling campus buildings, even an on-campus community vegetable garden. Here at UMF, you don’t need to spend a fortune in tuition and fees just to attend a responsibly eco-friendly college.

Learning by doing – the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition

At Farmington, students learn about sustainable environmental practices — making environmental benefits apparent to students, faculty, staff and the community. Here, environmental issues are studied throughout the curriculum.

The UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition, an organization of students, faculty, staff and community members, actively promotes environmental sustainability on campus and in the area community.

Public education, collaborations with community organizations, municipalities and schools, assessment and mitigation planning associated with greenhouse gas emissions, improvement of recycling on campus, development of a campus organic garden and orchard, encouragement of local food and institutional composting and reduction of automobile idling are all part of the Coalition’s broad environmental mission.

Goals of the Sustainable Campus Coalition:

  • To reduce the environmental impact of the campus
  • To educate ourselves, the campus, and the community about environmental sustainability in order to encourage everyone to reduce their impact
  • To promote collaboration, camaraderie and a bond among students, faculty, staff and the community
  • To have fun pursuing the first three goals.

The UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition was instrumental in UMF being honored by the U.S. House of Representatives for energy solutions that reduce greenhouse gases and long-term energy costs and being an inspiration in making a clean energy campus a reality.

Making “Going Green” Fun

The Sustainable Campus Coalition organizes and hosts a number of fun annual events at UMF and in the surrounding Farmington community designed to promote awareness of sustainability issues in creative and fun ways. The events typically draw a wide cross-section of the campus and community participants.

Some of the Sustainable Campus Coalition’s annual events

  • Trash Day
  • 350 Day
  • Campus Energy Challenge
  • Recycled Sledding Contest
  • Salvage and Recycle
  • UMF Sustainability Carnival
  • Earth Day Celebration
  • and more

The Sustainable Campus Coalition’s Leadership Role on Campus

In addition to its leadership role in extensive (and very popular) campus-wide recycling programs, food and waste reduction in the dining halls, indoor and outdoor campus lighting energy reduction and more, the Sustainable Campus Coalition serves the UMF administration as advisors on all things green.

The largely student-led group makes recommendations and offers solutions to a wide range of energy efficiency and environmental issues on campus — and the administration actually acts on their advice! (This doesn’t happen at all colleges.)

The Sustainable Campus Coalition led the planning of the geothermal heating / cooling project, the planning and advising for the LEED-certified Francis Allen Black Residence Hall; and the LEED-certified Kalikow Education Center, UMF’s second largest building.

UMF added biomass to its energy portfolio — another huge commitment toward the University becoming nearly fossil fuel-free.

As an educational institution, the University of Maine at Farmington is a recognized leader in promoting the sustainable use of the Earth’s resources. UMF demonstrates by its policies and practices that sustainable practices are an integral part of the campus culture.

  • The UMF Biomass Central Heating Plant is the largest single biomass hot water heating plant in Maine
  • It replaces 390,000 gallons (95%) of the heating oil formerly used to heat buildings on campus
  • It heats 83% of the campus with approximately 4,500 tons of hardwood chips per year
  • It uses Maine wood chips sourced within a 50-mile radius of the University as its fuel source
  • It decreases the University’s carbon emissions by 4,000 tons per year
  • The UMF Biomass Plant was featured in College Planning & Management magazine

In addition, hidden beneath the University’s beautiful campus green lies a sophisticated infrastructure of geothermal wells that use the natural passive energy of the earth to help heat many of the campus’s buildings.

Additional geothermal wells in other campus locations also heat the UMF Fitness & Recreation Center and the LEED-Certified Theo Kalikow Education Center — two of the largest facilities on campus.

Taking the LEED

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a national rating system from the U.S. Green Building Council. It is designed to promote and accelerate the development and implementation of green building practices.

Opened in 2006, the Kalikow Education Center earned UMF’s second LEED Green Building Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Previously, Francis Allen Black Hall, the University’s newest residence hall, received UMF’s first LEED certification.

The University is careful in the management and operations of building and renovating, in reducing pollution and waste, in using appropriate energy resources and materials, and in protecting and incorporating the native environment in campus spaces.

The University of Maine at Farmington was named a 2014-15 “50 Great Affordable Eco-Friendly College” by Best Choice Schools.com, a noted college search website. It reviewed more than 300 universities across the U.S., and selected just 50 fifty it believes to be the very best eco-friendly schools under $25,000 a year. Best Choice Schools recognized UMF to be among a number of colleges that have proven themselves as dedicated to the idea of sustainable living.

Best Choice Schools.com noted UMF’s two new LEED-certified campus buildings (Frances Allen Black Hall and Education Center). It also mentioned the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition, a campus organization that initiates a number of projects to encourage campus sustainability. The website singled out one popular UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition project — its annual Recycled Sledding Contest, which brings students together to create sleds out of recycled materials.