The term going green is nothing new to Virginia Commonwealth University, which has been trying to commitment to sustainability for years yet many students don’t notice or partake in VCU’s green initiatives around campus.
In 2011, VCU received an A- in the national “Green Report Card,” which provides in-depth sustainability profiles for colleges across the country. In this survey, VCU was ranked as an Overall College Sustainability Leader out of the over 300 campuses surveyed. “The current VCU 2020 Master Plan identifies sustainability and green construction as one of its tenants and goals,” it states on greenreportcard.com.
VCU has many employees that contribute time to advancing sustainability initiatives on campus including the VCU Sustainability Committee. Parker Long is their Sustainability Assistant and gets to be a part of almost every sustainability project at VCU.
“Most recently I worked for about a year on filling out the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) survey. VCU was ranked at the Silver level in STARS and the survey was also used to rank VCU 21st out of the 96 schools participating schools in the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools Survey 2012,” she said.
Parker is proud of the efforts VCU has taken and continue to make towards becoming a greener campus, saying “we are doing really well.”
“Sustainability is a lot about changing people’s behaviors, and for many people change is hard,” Parker said. “We know there is only so much we are able to do at the university and hope that the work we do gives others at the university the resources and education to create some change in their specific departments.”
VCU biology student, Taylor Green, said, “Taking care of the environment and going green is extremely important, especially as students at VCU since the actual environment is out of reach while living in the city.”
The university has embraced its urban environment and the principle of greener transportation providing students with tools such as electric charging stations for electric vehicles, free bus passes and over 200 bike racks throughout campus.
“Every little thing we do, such as recycling, walking to class instead of driving or pickling natural products to reduce toxins we let out into the environment makes a huge difference in our carbon footprint,” Green said.
Austin Pajda, is an environmental studies student who said he doesn’t know much about VCU’s green initiatives around campus.
“I know they want to plant more, which is obviously beneficial,” he said. “Also they want a rain collection on top of the buildings, which would save watering costs and preserve the water levels. And there’s recycling to eliminate waste and reuse to save the environment.”
Students recognized the importance of being green yet many don’t know that the university is taking such efforts to get there.
“The best thing student’s can do is express interest in VCU going green and sustainability. Many of the initiatives that we have supported have been student-driven,” Parker said. “Students have a big say in a lot of the decisions that are made at VCU, so if there is a cause that a student group thinks is important, then I suggest they talk to the administrators and let them know what VCU students care about.”
If students are interested in learning more about VCU going green, they are encouraged to attend Campus Sustainability Day, on Oct.12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on the Commons Plaza, which brings together departments from across the university (and some other companies) to highlight the sustainable practices at VCU.