UMass receives $37.5 million for environmental and sustainability initiatives

By Jaclyn Bryson

(Collegian file photo)
(Collegian file photo)

Through legislation signed by Gov. Deval Patrick over the summer, the University of Massachusetts received $37.5 million in funding for environmental projects both on and off campus, according to a University press release.

“This is a new source of funding that will enhance the university’s ability to serve communities across the Commonwealth,” Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said in the release. “As the Commonwealth’s flagship campus, we are committed to protect and improve the environment for the next generation of Massachusetts citizens.”

The bill made it possible to borrow $1.9 billion for environmental projects statewide possible for the next four years. The portion of those funds that UMass will eventually receive will go toward a variety of projects both in Amherst and throughout Massachusetts

A majority of the funds, $20 million, have been set aside for the 58-acre Waltham site along Beaver Street, which, according to the release, will be used to convert the area into a more eco-friendly space. These changes will include a new building with updated classrooms, offices and conference spaces. The location in the Boston area will become a more sustainable site by promoting urban agriculture and food safety. It will also serve as the home to researchers developing alternative means of energy and food and water systems.

Outside of UMass, projects include $4 million to fund water testing and jumpstart facilities to improve water technology throughout Massachusetts, which supports the work of Professor David Reckhow. At the UMass Cranberry Station in East Wareham, $5.5 million will go toward laboratory construction and new laboratory equipment. According to the release, the goal of this project is to reduce the impact these labs may have on the environment and to promote sustainable cranberry production.

Other projects include $5 million to improve the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, where technology upgrades will link Stockbridge with other schools through teleconferencing. A new Integrated Design Building will also be funded by $3 million and will be built off North Pleasant Street next to the Studio Arts Building. The 87,000-square foot building will cost $53 million in total and is expected to be completed by January 2017.

Jaclyn Bryson can be reached at [email protected]