Through its teaching and research endeavors, as well as the operations of its overall enterprise, the University of Miami is committed to the safeguarding of the environment. Innovative programs in schools and colleges, interdisciplinary centers and institutes, and events and activities throughout the University address issues involving a wide spectrum of environmental concerns.

In 2005 the University launched Green U, under the direction of Alan J Fish (The Vice President of Business Services at the time) in order to officially categorize and direct the numerous sustainability efforts of the University. Green U’s first aim was to make UM: “a community leader in the acquisition of environmentally responsible products and the practice of ecologically sound maintenance and operations procedures.”

During 2006, students from the Sustainable U organization, including leaders Josh Braunstein, Matt Hoffman, and Jenny Burrows, presented President Donna E. Shalala and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc with the Talloires Declaration and asked, on behalf of the student body, for the University to join the effort.

On April 18, 2007, in the presence of student environmental groups (Earth Alert, Sustainable U, Greenpeace, Surfrider, and others) and key stakeholders at the University, President Shalala signed the Talloires Declaration of the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future and the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

The Talloires Declaration (pronounced Tal-Whar) is a ten-point action plan committing institutions to sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching and practice. The Presidents Climate Commitment is a project developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), to which the University belongs. The commitment provides a framework and support for America’s colleges and universities to become climate neutral. As a member of the elite Leadership Circle, President Shalala is one of the original signatories.

“The University of Miami is recognized for preparing students to be environmental thinkers and responsible citizens of the world… Now we are making a commitment to a sustainable future by broadening our approach to educating students on environmental sustainability and by fostering a culture of environmental awareness at the University.” - President Shalala on her historic signing (April 18th, 2007)

The main goals of the Green U program are coordinated through the Environmental Health and Safety department (EHS). This department falls under and corresponds with the Business Services department. The Executive Director of the EHS department, Ken Capezzuto, whose mission is “To help the University continuously improve its compliance with safety and environmental regulation”, has played an instrumental role in Green U’s developments since the beginning.

As a result of this commitment to sustainability through the Green U program the University hired its first full time Sustainability Coordinator in 2008. Ian McKeown, the acting sustainability coordinator, has completed both an undergraduate and masters degree from the University and is actively pursuing continuing education. Ian works with faculty, staff, and students across campus areas to make recommendations and implement new programs in order to raise awareness and reduce the school’s overall impact.

This is currently an exciting time for Green U and the University of Miami as we make strives to reduce waste, energy, water, and increase education for the community and beyond. Green U is a cultural movement at the University; each community member’s participation is essential for success. As we further the culture of sustainability the University of Miami’s Green U program will continue to produce the leaders of tomorrow who leave the smallest impression on the planet possible.