Decade of Virginia Tech Sustainability Achievements
Since the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment was initially approved in 2009, Virginia Tech continues to actualize its dedication to environmental stewardship through more sustainable campus operations, ongoing engagement opportunities for students, research, and much more. Read the 2020 Climate Action Commitment.
Examples of Sustainability Achievements Since 2009
The university has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 24 percent from 2006-19, despite 22 percent growth in campus building size and enrollment. This is in large part due to ongoing investments in energy efficiency outlined in the Climate Action Commitment. From 2015-20, Virginia Tech has invested $14 million in energy efficiency improvements resulting in energy and dollar savings with a five-year payback.
One strategy to reduce the use of coal as a fuel for utilities generation on the Blacksburg campus, is an ongoing capital project to demolish an existing coal-fired boiler and replace it with a new 100,000 pounds/hour natural gas-fired boiler. The new boiler is anticipated to reduce the university’s coal footprint significantly. It will also help to increase the steam production capacity of centralized heating and hot water infrastructure on campus while improving the operational efficiency and environmental footprint of the system.
As of spring 2021, delivery and installation of the boiler are complete. The commissioning, setup, and testing phases are currently underway.
In Calendar Year 2019, Virginia Tech achieved an 80 percent waste diversion rate (waste diverted from landfill) and a 40 percent recycling rate. In February 2021, the university published its Comprehensive Waste Management Plan that outlines pathways for achieving university waste management, recycling goals.
Click here to learn more about recycling and waste management efforts and achievements.
Virginia Tech remains a recognized leader in campus sustainability with a Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (STARS) Gold score.
Virginia Tech has won numerous awards and recognitions since 2010, including:
- Princeton Review’s top 50 Green Colleges (11 consecutive years);
- Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award (seven-time winner);
- Best Workplaces for Commuters;
- Bicycle Friendly Campus;
- Tree Campus USA certification (13 consecutive years);
- APPA, Leadership in Educational Facilities Innovation Award (Green RFP Program); and
- Many more.
The Office of Sustainability formed through the 2009 commitment continues to deliver top-notch sustainability engagement opportunities for students. These include an award-winning internship program and the popular Green RFP program, which has provided university funding for the implementation of 83 student-generated campus sustainability projects over the past decade.
There is an array of sustainability-related academic programs, majors, coursework, and research in green engineering, natural resources, energy systems, environmental policy, and many others. In the STARS rating system, Virginia Tech scores 89 percent of possible points in academic categories. It also scores 95 percent of possible points in campus engagement. Virginia Tech has a rich campus life for students with a wide array of opportunities, including strong environmental student organizations. Indeed, these student groups have pushed the university to move forward on climate action.