February 4, 2011 — A group of University of Virginia employees is launching Sustainability Partners, a network of volunteers interested in promoting environmentally responsible practices on Grounds and in the community. The group's first meeting is planned for Feb. 22 at 1 p.m. in Newcomb Hall, room 389.
Sustainability Partners provides an opportunity for employees to brainstorm and share ideas on a sustainable workplace. Participants in the initial meeting will discuss recycling, waste reduction and energy conservation.
Laura Sprung, a program coordinator in ITC, and Jessica Wenger, an environmental projects manager in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, are organizing Sustainability Partners with the support of the University's Office of Community Relations.
"Sustainability Partners is an opportunity for employees to have a voice and be active in sustainability at U.Va.," Sprung said. "There are many student groups that support the environment, but employees are also interested in sustainability. Our impact can be positive and significant."
Wenger said many departments and individuals on Grounds have implemented exemplary sustainability practices in their offices. "Sustainability Partners is intended to be a resource for sharing these success stories, troubleshooting unsuccessful attempts and learning about sustainability-related happenings," she said.
The President's Committee on Sustainability has endorsed an employee volunteer network as one of four key strategies for promoting sustainability awareness at U.Va. Other efforts include the University's Sustainability Pledge (available at the "Sustainability at the University of Virginia website, its sustainability icon, an enhanced Web presence and Earth Week events in April.
"We launched the Sustainability Pledge in the fall with a goal of gaining 1,000 participants by the last day of Earth Week, which is April 22," said Ida Lee Wootten, director of community relations, who chairs the Community Outreach and Communications Subcommittee of the President's Committee.
As part of the pledge's launch, more than 200 photographs were taken across Grounds of employees and students declaring individual actions steps they are willing to take to help the environment.
"We plan on taking photographs again in April as part of Earth Week activities," Wootten said. "Perhaps one outgrowth of Sustainability Partners will be employees electing to have photographs taken that reflect both individual and units' commitments to promoting sustainable workplaces."