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The Office of Sustainability receives many questions about our sustainability goals and work at UM. Please take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions to see if your question has already been answered.

UM Sustainability FAQs

The Sustainable Campus Committee bylaws include the following definition of sustainability:

“Sustainability addresses the interconnections between ecological integrity, social justice, and economic prosperity. Sustainability seeks to build economic prosperity without compromising social well-being or ecological health.”

The professional association of which UM is a member organization is the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), “defines sustainability in an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods and a better world for all generations” (

Energy for the University of Montana Missoula is primarily sourced from Northwestern Energy, though we currently have two micro solar arrays on campus, one on the Todd building and one on Campus Recreation. Our steam plant on campus burns natural gas and is not a combined heat and power facility.

Main Campus has made consistent and incremental progress recommissioning and updating its buildings to improve energy efficiency and conservation. Projects underway change each year, so please contact us for details on specific buildings, savings realized, and current projects. In order to effectively track and measure energy consumption on campus, students have supported the purchase and installation of energy smart meters and condensate meters across campus. We are currently working on installing smart meters in all campus buildings. UM recognizes energy conservation as a critical strategy in reaching our goal of carbon neutrality and has seen a reduction in our GHG emissions by 10% below our 2007 baseline levels, largely due to energy conservation projects on campus.

With the exception of glass, UM recycling can handle nearly all other recyclable material. Please refer to the Recycling Guide for specifics.

The Sustainable Business Council, a Missoula non-profit organization, did a great job of explaining why we do not currently recycle glass. See their Toward Zero Waste guide (page 60) for more info.

The main culprit for sidewalk watering is in our older, manual systems. The situation with the angles of spray is similar in many areas, but there are others where it is the exact opposite. We have underground, spring loaded, ball valves that we can plug traditional impact lawn sprinklers into and they will run in full or partial circles. The problem with this is that the majority of sidewalk edges are straight and we are trying to achieve coverage with circles. This leaves us no choice but to run them over the sidewalks to avoid dead spots in the turf. We do our manual watering during the morning hours, but obviously there is going to be some conflict with pedestrians. In general, our irrigation tech leaves an alternative route to building entrances. UM is working to install automated irrigation across campus as it is financially able to do so.

Please direct your questions and comments about campus sustainability to the Office of Sustainability or the ASUM Sustainability Center. We will get back to you as soon as possible!

For questions about recycling, please contact Jim Lyon.

Office of Sustainability
Administration & Finance
129 University Hall
Missoula, MT