Campus-wide commitment to sustainability highlighted in 2017-18 report
In the nine years since the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved the inaugural Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment, Virginia Tech remains more engaged than ever in its sustainability efforts.
The Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment, approved in 2009 and reaffirmed in 2013, serves as a cornerstone for guiding the university toward a greener, more sustainable future. It touches on all aspects of university sustainability, including campus operations, facilities, curriculum, and research.
Each year, the Office of Sustainability releases a Sustainability Annual Report that highlights the university’s progress in meeting the goals outlined in the Climate Action Commitment. Topics covered in the report include energy reduction efforts, recycling and waste reduction, energy-efficient design, and alternative transportation. The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors Buildings and Grounds Committee received the 2017-18 Sustainability Annual Report on Nov. 5.
Sustainability achievements during the 2017-18 academic year highlighted in the Sustainability Annual Report include:
Gold STARS rating
Virginia Tech received a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) Gold Rating for its sustainability efforts across academics, operations, planning and administration, and campus engagement. STARS is recognized nationally as the premier management tool for colleges and universities to measure sustainability performance.
Energy reduction efforts
Since 2016, more than $6 million in energy cost savings have been realized across campus through energy audits, retrofitting and infrastructure projects, and projects to change energy consumption behaviors.
Green RFP Program
The Green Request for Proposals Program (Green RFP) provides university funds to student-generated sustainability projects. Since 2010, 65 student proposals have been approved and awarded more than $650,000.
Twelve Green RFP projects were funded in 2017-18 and will be installed in 2018-19. The projects include LED lighting upgrades in the President’s Quad residence halls and Pritchard Hall study lounges; new water bottle refill stations in Cowgill, Burchard, Latham, and Derring halls, reusable to-go containers for Dining Services, and Stroubles Creek riparian restoration.
Recycling, waste reduction, and composting
Virginia Tech achieved a 39 percent recycling rate for calendar year 2017. Recycling, waste reduction, and composting were expanded through such initiatives as:
- Green Tailgating: More than 14,000 pounds of recycling was collected during the 2017 football season;
- Dining Services composting program: 219 tons of composted food waste collected from 11 dining facilities; and
- Reusable To-Go (R2G) program: Since 2014, more than 180,000 meals have been served in R2G containers.
At the completion of academic year 2017-18, Virginia Tech had 27 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) registered buildings totaling 1.8 million gross square feet (GSF), with 15 completed and LEED Certified. Virginia Tech received the 2018 Green Leadership Award from the U. S. Green Building Council’s Virginia Market Leadership Advisory Board.
The Office of Parking and Transportation continues to see strong engagement in its alternative transportation programs, including use of Blacksburg Transit, Hokie Bike Hub, and Zimride ride matching services. Planning efforts are also underway for the creation of a Multi-Modal Transit Facility on campus in collaboration with the Town of Blacksburg.
“Virginia Tech’s leadership in sustainability is driven by strong campus-wide engagement in reducing our environmental footprint. It is exciting to see innovation being applied to sustainability projects and operational changes across the institution,” said Sherwood Wilson, vice president for operations at Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech is already making big strides in sustainability this 2018-19 academic year. For example:
- New Roam NRV bike share stations can now be found on the Virginia Tech campus thanks to a regional partnership among Virginia Tech, Blacksburg and Christiansburg, and Montgomery County. There are currently 12 bike stations in the network with eight on campus.
- For the ninth consecutive year, Virginia Tech ranked among the most environmentally responsible universities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe by The Princeton Review in their Guide to 399 Green Colleges 2018.
- Virginia Tech is featured among the top ‘Cool Schools 2018’ for its environmental efforts by the Sierra Club.