University unites in search for 'greener' U.Va

StudCo Sustainability Committee supports zero waste events, U.Va to reduce nitrogen footprint by 2025

fcrecyclekgrant

Recycling bins for each type of material — white paper, mixed paper and plastic, metal and glass — are provided in all University buildings.


nsmorvenfarmuva

Morven Kitchen Garden is a one-acre student farm located about 20 minutes from Grounds which serves as a laboratory for student research and exploration.



“I compare the role of the Sustainability Team to that of the U.Va. Honor Committee,” Greene said. “Everyone at U.Va. plays a role in Honor. The Honor Committee doesn’t single-handedly ensure that no one at U.Va. lies or cheats, but rather, the Honor Committee helps to communicate the importance of honor at U.Va. and to run many of the formal functions of Honor. In the same way, everyone at U.Va. plays an important role in making U.Va. ‘green.’”

Following national trends, several groups around Grounds are making a concerted effort to create a more “green U.Va.”

From student activism to resolutions by the Board of Visitors, people at all levels are trying to create an environmentally sustainable University.

The most visible University program is the source-separated multi-stream recycling program. Recycling bins for each type of material — white paper, mixed paper and plastic, metal and glass — are provided in all University buildings. Recycling bins can also be found around Grounds, and “E-cycling” bins for electronics are located at various high traffic points.

Student government initiatives

One of the most active student groups in shaping environmentally conscious initiatives is the Student Council Sustainability Committee, co-chaired by fourth-year College student Jonathan Torre and a fourth-year Engineering student Holly Mayton.

“The sustainability institution at U.Va is primarily proactive, not reactive, in responding to student concerns,” Torre said. “Organizations like U.Va. Sustainability and U.Va. Dining go above and beyond student expectations by increasing the sustainable nature of institutional operations within the University of which students might not necessarily be aware.”

The committee has 16 members who dedicate their time to various task forces. Ultimately, the committee acts as a resource for students interested in sustainability at the University and is involved in initiatives like hand-dryer installation in the Brown Science & Engineering Library, zero-waste events such as Pancakes for Parkinson’s and co-sponsorships with groups like the University Programs Council.

“This year, our budget was nearly double what it has been in the past,” Torre said. “I anticipate that with strong leadership the Sustainability Committee will continue to grow as an active agent within Council and the University community.”

Administrative initiatives

An established department, the Office for Sustainability, oversees conservation efforts at the University.

The office, according to Director Andrea Trimble and Outreach Coordinator Nina Morris, is following a plan implemented by the Board of Visitors.

“The Board of Visitors passed a sustainability resolution in 2011 that set U.Va.‘s carbon reduction goal and identified key sustainability principles,” Trimble and Morris wrote in an email. “U.Va. committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 25 percent by the year 2025, using 2009 as the baseline. U.Va. has since reduced its carbon emissions [and] has done so through extensive energy conservation work.”

The resolution has been updated to reflect developing technology, Trimble and Morris said.

“Recently, U.Va.‘s sustainability resolution was amended in September of 2013 to include a nitrogen reduction goal — the first of its kind in higher education,” said Trimble and Morris. “The nitrogen reduction goal also seeks to reduce U.Va.‘s reactive nitrogen footprint by 25 percent by the year 2025. Meeting both of these goals will require engagement and collaboration with many people across the University.”

“Recently, U.Va.‘s sustainability resolution was
amended in September of 2013 to include
a nitrogen reduction goal — the first of its kind
in higher education.”

According to Trimble, the sustainability office, in coordination with U.Va. Athletics, Aramark and the Zero Waste Initiative student group, organized the first zero-waste athletic event at John Paul Jones Arena for the sold-out basketball game against Notre Dame Feb. 22.

The Office also works to engages and support sustainability efforts around Grounds through programs such as the U.Va. Green Challenge, which aims to encourage sustainable habits among the student body.

University dining halls make up a large part of the effort to reduce waste and harmful emissions. In working toward lower nitrogen emissions in accordance with the Board of Visitors’ resolution, dining halls have instituted Meatless Mondays, said fourth-year College student Isiah Manalo, who works for the University’s sustainability and green dining initiatives.

Meatless Mondays aim to reduce the amount of meat used on Mondays in an effort to reduce the University’s nitrogen footprint.

Dining halls have also added reusable to-go containers to encourage students to reduce waste.

Composting is done via the University’s partnership with Black Bear Composting. All residential dining facilities and most of the retail dining facilities have “back of the house” composting in which excess ingredients are composted along with post-consumption waste.

Another administrative level initiative includes the Reusable Office Supply Exchange program. Sponsored by U.Va. Recycling, the exchange collects gently or never-used office supply materials from departments around Grounds and makes these materials available to the community. The inventory of materials ranges from staplers and boxes to desk lamps and speakers.

“All residential dining facilities and most of the
retail dining facilities have ‘back of
the house’ composting in which excess
ingredients are composted along with
post-consumption waste.”

Student groups

Green living collectives like SustainaUnity have also gained significant traction among the student body in recent years.

SustainaUnity is essentially a collaboration — markedly not a group, club or organization — across Grounds between students involved in organizations such as Student Council, Green Grounds Organization and Sustainability Advocates which aims to enable students to share information for opportunities in sustainable engagement.

The students represent more than 50 sustainability-related organizations across the Greek system, student residences and co-curricular groups available and designed for student involvement.

The collaborative also recognizes student groups around Grounds who have successfully devoted their time to sustainability, including Morven Kitchen Garden, a one-acre student farm located about 20 minutes from Grounds which serves as a laboratory for student research and exploration.

Faculty and community initiatives

The Sustainability Team — made up of Andrew Greene, sustainability planner in the Office of the University Architect, Armando de Leon, sustainability programs manager for facilities management, and Jess Wenger, environmental management systems coordinator — offers in-depth evaluations and consultations to individuals or departments regarding ways to reduce impact on the environment.

“I compare the role of the Sustainability Team to that of the U.Va. Honor Committee,” Greene said. “Everyone at U.Va. plays a role in Honor. The Honor Committee doesn’t single-handedly ensure that no one at U.Va. lies or cheats, but rather, the Honor Committee helps to communicate the importance of honor at U.Va. and to run many of the formal functions of Honor. In the same way, everyone at U.Va. plays an important role in making U.Va. ‘green.’”

Greene said the Sustainability Team helps to communicate the importance of sustainability at the University, provides advice and guidance and runs the formal and administrative aspects of sustainability.


Published March 5, 2014 in Focus, FP test, News





The Cavalier Daily welcomes thoughtful, respectful and relevant comments that contribute to a public dialogue. In order to maintain a high level of discourse, all comments must be approved by our moderator. For more information, view our full comment policy.

Comments powered by Disqus

Powered by powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News