University and partners adopt sustainable ways, share the message

Virginia Tech has made it a priority to make campus increasingly more energy efficient and sustainable.

Initiatives by Facilities at Virginia Tech, new approaches to greener campus buildings, research by Virginia Tech students and faculty, and even student organizations go beyond just recycling aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and newspapers.

There’s a commitment to use daily resources in a way that has future generations in mind. The university has also partnered with the Town of Blacksburg and the community organization Sustainable Blacksburg to accomplish even more.

Efforts, which have been increasing and evolving over the past decade, are taking aim at transportation, waste reduction, energy, and the community.

    Two students commuting to class on bicycles.

Dedication to reducing waste, exploring nontraditional means of transportation, making smarter energy choices, implementing environmentally friendly choices, and supporting local economy are just some of the ways Hokies are working to live with sustainability in mind.

Sustainability in motion

Incorporating alternative modes of transportation into everyday life is one way to help the environment.

Transportation and Parking at Virginia Tech has implemented several Alternative Transportation programs. In fall 2007 a new program, GoLoco, was launched, allowing participants to share rides — both local and distant — while sharing the cost.

    Two white hybrid Ford Escape vehicles next to Lane Stadium.

Blacksburg Transit, which serves the campus and the community, also provides convenient transportation options for the entire Blacksburg community.

Students and faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering are planning for the future by researching alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles.

Additionally, the Town of Blacksburg and the university have collaborated to begin fueling their diesel-powered vehicles and equipment with biodiesel. This joint program launched in May 2007 with the conversion of more than 100 vehicles to B20 — a blend of 20 percent by volume biodiesel with 80 percent by volume petroleum diesel.

Waste reduction

From used motor oil to yard trimmings, every day we produce waste that can be recycled, reducing the amount of greenhouse gas-producing materials sent to landfills.

    A Virginia Tech Recycling worker recycling cans

Virginia Tech Recycling educates students, faculty, and staff on the varied recycling opportunities on campus. Sustainable Blacksburg, a partnership of the town, the university, and others, is also educating the community on the innovative practices that assist with waste reduction.

Exploring efficient and eco-friendly energy

Virginia Tech has made exploring efficient and eco-friendly energy sources another priority.

In 2006, the Deans’ Task Force on Energy Security and Sustainability introduced multiple research projects related to wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy.

University Distinguished Professor Fred Lee is also researching more efficient power electronics in an effort to create power electronics technology that reduces energy consumption costs. 

Since 2006, the student group IDEAS has championed the , which encourages people to replace conventional, incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient, compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Building a sustainable home, town, campus, and economy

Supporting local businesses and farmers is another way to build a sustainable community and help sustain the local economy.

As the university and the community continue to grow, building “green” structures becomes increasingly more important.  

The green roof on the life sciences building and plans for a new Experimental Theatre are both examples of environmentally savvy approaches.

Like the life sciences building, the theater will incorporate a green roof, and it will also feature low-flush toilets and urinals, energy-efficient HVAC, extensive use of environmentally friendly and locally produced materials, and recycling of selected demolition and construction debris.

  • For more information on this topic, contact Jennifer Tatum Harris at harrisjt@vt.edu, or (540) 231-0235.

Turf lawn conversion

    Southgate meadow

In spring 2007, 13 areas of campus were converted from turf grass to native grass meadows and wildflowers.

The change significantly decreases maintenance needed on 35 acres of land.

The project adds biodiversity, aids storm water management, and reduces fossil fuel usage.

Did you know?

Transportation

  • Riding public transit or carpooling can curb the release of at least one ton of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
  • Renewable fuels reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Waste reduction

  • Nationally, only 17 percent of our trash is recycled; the goal is 25 percent.
On average, trash consists of
Paper38%
Yard trimmings18%
Metals8%
Plastic8%
Glass7%
Food waste7%

Home energy

  • Globally, at least $50 billion a year is wasted on devices, equipment, and lights that are turned on unnecessarily.
  • If 1 million people replaced just one incandescent bulb with a compact flourescent, it could eliminate more than 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

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