U.Va. Launches New Sustainability Learning Tool and Website

“Sustainability @UVa: You Can Make a Positive Difference” is a new tool to help University employees learn about and embrace green practices. The 45-minute online program defines sustainability, highlights current efforts and offers tips on adopting environmentally friendly practices.

University employees can view the program within Employee Self-Service in the Integrated System. They can also arrange an interactive presentation by contacting Jessica Wenger, environmental projects manager in U.Va.’s Environmental Health and Safety, at jsw6d@virginia.edu or 434-982-5540.

Wenger crafted the material in the program with the aid of University Human Resources Employee Development. The program has been endorsed by Sustainability Partners and the University Sustainability Committee.

This week the University also unveiled a new sustainability website, which has been redesigned to be more engaging and user-friendly. In addition to offering information about ongoing University efforts, the site provides valuable insight and links to information regarding personal sustainability goals, including suggestions for saving water and recycling.

“Sustainability at U.Va. requires both institutional and individual commitments,” said Jim Fitzgerald, associate director of U.Va.’s Community Relations Office. “The new website has been designed with the dual focus of allowing visitors to learn about large-scale efforts at U.Va. while offering inspiration for them to act as individuals.”

The new site also features an enhanced version of the Sustainability Pledge, originally launched in 2010 as an initiative of the President’s Committee on Sustainability. The pledge language on the new site remains the same: “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.”

At the suggestion of employees who previewed the pledge this summer, tips offering practical steps that can be taken to help the environment have been added.

“The enhanced pledge provides greater opportunity for the U.Va. community to connect with each other, to help in building a sustainable community together,” said Nina Morris, sustainability outreach coordinator in Facilities Management.

In addition to providing enhanced information for the new sustainability site, University Human Resources is also giving more institutional support to sustainability by piloting a “Green Team.” This committed group of employees is working together to promote greater awareness of sustainable practices across Grounds.

In 2011, University Human Resources began distributing “Choose to Reuse” bags at orientations for new employees to use in carrying handouts and other printed material. This initiative was part of a sustainability signage campaign launched last fall by the University Sustainability Committee. The “Choose to Reuse” message also encourages people to use reusable containers instead of single-use disposable products.

U.Va.’s sustainability campaign has seen a decrease in electric and total water use, an increase in the use of transportation alternatives and more environmentally responsible construction.

This success can be attributed to several innovative sustainability efforts at U.Va., including:

  • NuRide, a ride-sharing website that offers rewards for biking, walking, carpooling, teleworking and working a compressed work week;
  • Sofa Shuffle, which enables students to put their unwanted furniture, appliances and clothing to good use by donating to local charities;
  • Delta Force, an interdisciplinary team that examines existing buildings and recommissions them to reduce energy and water usage;
  • Flip the Switch” signs mounted above light switches that encourage everyone to turn off the lights when leaving a room;
  • “Try Just One,” a campaign designed to reduce the usage of paper towels.


“University Human Resources welcomes the opportunity to further collaborate on sustainability efforts that impact University life and that enhance the sustainability knowledge of our employees,” said Timothy White, senior immigration consultant in University Human Resources and an active member of the University Sustainability Committee.

Media Contact

Ida Lee Wootten

Director of Community Relations