In the closing days of 2010, UVA Today looks back on some of the University's top stories of the past 12 months.
December 28, 2010 — The University of Virginia's Grounds are looking greener these days.
To promote community involvement in sustainability efforts, the University launched a sustainability pledge, reading: "I pledge to consider the social, economic and environmental impacts of my habits and to explore ways to foster a sustainable environment during my time here at U.Va. and beyond." Students, faculty and staff have been signing the pledge online; the initial goal is 1,000 signatures by Earth Day, April 22.
The pledge is the latest step in U.Va.'s aggressive sustainability campaign, which has a seen a decrease in electric use (per gross square foot) and total water use over the past 10 years, an increase in use of transportation alternatives, more awareness of local food and more environmentally responsible construction.
The University has expanded projects such as Delta Force, an interdisciplinary team that examines existing buildings and recommissions them to reduce energy and water usage. The University has expanded its recycling program, reduced water consumption and reduced food waste in the dining halls. It is purchasing more local food, organic food and fair trade products for its dining operation.
Dining Services and the Office of Housing were awarded the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program's E-3 designation, meaning they have fully implemented environmental management systems and pollution prevention programs as well as demonstrated performance.
On the transportation side, the University promotes bus ridership through subsidizing faculty, staff and student rides on the Charlottesville Area Transit system. The Department of Parking and Transportation Services increased incentives for employees to carpool, as well as introduced Zipcar, through which members can rent a car by the hour; and NuRide, a ride-sharing website that offers rewards for biking, walking, carpooling, working a compressed work week and teleworking. P&T also operates its bus fleet on biodiesel.
The Town Center Three building at the University Foundation's Research Park on U.S. 29 received gold certification this year from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, and the Printing and Copying Services building on Old Ivy Road received a silver ranking – the first buildings to make it all the way through the LEED process, from design to occupation. Several other University projects are awaiting certification.
The annual Sofa Shuffle and Chuck It For Charity programs, sponsored by the Office of Community Relations, again found new homes for students' used furniture and small appliances through local charitable agencies.
The University's sustainability efforts have carried over to the classroom, as professors and researchers have received grants to tackle various environmental problems and conditions. The University's Facilities Management division worked with students in a mechanical engineering class who converted an automobile to run on electricity, installing solar panels at the Emmet/Ivy Garage to help power the vehicle.
Students also had their own projects, from helping increase recycling at football games, reducing electricity use in their dorms and cooking leftovers from the dining halls for charities in the community.
A look at some of the University's work in sustainability: