Virginia Commonwealth University has received a Gold Rating from an international sustainability organization that measures the performance of higher education institutions in five key areas.
VCU has received the STARS Gold Rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. More than 900 colleges and universities in 40 countries participate in the organization’s STARS program, which stands for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System. STARS measures sustainability achievements in academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership. Participating institutions are surveyed every three years and receive a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum rating. VCU’s rating has been silver since 2012.
âThis memo represents leadership in the area of ââsustainability and gives VCU a good start to our ONE VCU sustainability plan, which will begin development early next semester,â said Meredith Weiss, Ph.D., vice-president. president of the administration. âVCU is fortunate to have the support and partnership of members of the academic community and the healthcare system who are passionate about making an impact on sustainability. “
Among the highlights of VCU’s submission that helped raise the college’s rating to Gold were:
- The development of Free VCU Store, an initiative designed to promote equitable access to household and stationery supplies for students in need, while diverting usable goods from the general waste stream.
- The successful piloting of a food production program which enabled students to actively run an indoor microgreens grow operation and donate produce to the campus pantry, while earning academic credits.
- Implementation of a community forestry program to enhance Richmond’s urban canopy that has engaged students, faculty and staff in experiential learning and service opportunities that meet the needs of the community.
- The formation of an inter-campus working group to reduce single-use plastic and polystyrene items used on campus in accordance with Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 77.
- In 2018, VCU invested $ 17 million in a multi-building energy performance contract and achieved emissions reductions of more than 59,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
The ONE VCU Sustainability Plan will be a comprehensive roadmap to guide sustainability goals and policies at the VCU and the VCU Health System. The process of developing the plan will begin next semester and will actively seek the broad expertise of VCU students, faculty, staff, team members and the local community providing multiple opportunities to ask questions and share ideas.
âAs ONE VCU, we recognize the role the university and the healthcare system play in supporting environmentally sustainable initiatives through education, healthcare, innovation, collaboration and commitment, âsaid Ann Kildahl, Ph.D., director of sustainability.
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