Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.15
Liaison Andrea Trimble
Submission Date March 4, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Virginia
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Julia Monteith
Senior Land Use Planner
Office of the Architect
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level:

UVA plays an active role in advocating for community public policy by serving on both the City of Charlottesville Planning Commission and the Albemarle County Planning Commission - both which incorporate sustainable practices. In addition, UVA staff serve on the Metropolitan Planning Organization which addresses transportation in our community and incorporates multi-mobility planning. UVA staff also serve on the Regional Transportation Partnership,for the regional planning district to advocate for improved transportation in our community - particularly focused on public transit.
• The University of Virginia is undertaking an initiative to provide affordable housing options for the community. (https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/03/11/uva-unveils-affordable-housing-project) The University introduced members of local government bodies (Planning Commissioners for the City and County and City/County administrators) to the plan at the February 2021 LUPEC meeting in order to emphasize the importance of the initiative for solving the community-wide issue of a lack of equitable and affordable housing. Additionally, in October 2019 UVA President James Ryan hosted and competed in the 2nd annual Community Bridges 5K. Proceeds from this community focused event went to four local affordable housing non-profits. (https://news.virginia.edu/content/qa-years-community-bridges-5k-benefits-another-great-cause )
• As part of the largest EPA Chesapeake Bay pollution diet (stormwater total maximum daily load (TMDL)) in the United States, UVA, the City and County advocate for improved stormwater management to create wildlife habitat, stream restoration and daylighting to create aquatic wildlife habitat. Some of the stormwater mitigation projects are joint projects with the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, and the pollution reductions are regionally monitored to heal and enhance the Chesapeake Bay.
• 2011-13 grant + continuing efforts - The Sustainable Communities Planning Grant was a three‐year federally funded process to advance implementation of sustainability through regional coordination in the Charlottesville/Albemarle metropolitan area. The efforts and advocay initiated with this grant continue.
• The University representatives work with the City and County to continually update their Comprehensive Plans to improve and integrate sustainable practices into the communities’ planning practices.
• The University of Virginia's has restructured its debt to support key elements of strategic plan, including the new Affordable Excellence program adopted by the Board of Visitors. Included in the $291.6 million of refunding bonds is the University’s first issuance of “green bonds,” which support environmentally sustainable projects and help to create innovative strategies to meet the goals of UVA's Sustainability Plan.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level:

On a state level, the University advocates to support advancing sustainability as it relates to environment, economy and equity. Some examples include:
• Both UVA’s President and the Rector of UVA’s Board of Visitors have publicly endorsed UVA and The College of William and Mary’s shared goal for each institution to be carbon neutral by 2030. The carbon goal is part of a set of broader sustainability efforts across the state that includes Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signing of an executive order in fall of 2019 setting a goal for Virginia to produce 100% of its energy from carbon-free sources by 2050. (https://news.virginia.edu/content/uva-wm-partner-10-year-goal-achieving-carbon-neutrality). UVA’s President continues to publicly advocate for carbon reduction at all levels of government. In April 2021 he participated in a symposium to discuss how our economy can achieve net zero carbon emissions and what policies can be implemented now to achieve that grand challenge. (https://eri.virginia.edu/event/arun-majumdar/)
• Through the UVA’s AccessUVA financial aid program, we are committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated need of students admitted to the University. This important program allows us to operate with a “need-blind” admission policy that bolsters our efforts to attract the best students to the University while achieving socioeconomic diversity in the student population. The University of Virginia is one a few public universities in the nation to meet full need for both in-state and out-of-state students.
• The University’s recently adopted Affordable Excellence model-the University’s commitment that a UVA education will remain among the best while guaranteeing that Virginia families will be offered minimum levels of need-based student indebtedness.
• UVA is committed to be a leader in supplier diversity by developing sustainable relationships with qualified, reliable, small, women, and minority owned businesses. We actively seek out the best firms which will enable us to deliver high-quality education, research, public service and healthcare. We offer and participate in multiple diversity training events throughout the year including, but not limited to SWaMFEST, MBE Day, conferences, open houses, etc. to advance and enhance supplier diversity at the University.
• The University also closely monitors legislation, executive orders, and other regulations that are applicable to the University. We engage multiple stakeholders across the University to assess and analyze the impact of legislation, and our Office of State Governmental Relations engages in advocacy efforts on a myriad of issues that will have an impact on the University, either positively or negatively. Issues specific to sustainability include, but are not limited to land use, energy conservation and reduction initiatives, LEED certification requirements, stormwater management that affect all state, and sometimes local, agencies and institutions. Given the breadth of these issues, we often work collaboratively with other institutions of higher education and other state agencies as appropriate in our advocacy efforts.
• A commission at the UVA’s Miller Center of Public Affairs will examine new ways to fund higher education. The National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education is tasked with searching for new financial models that can sustain colleges and universities while making cost of attendance affordable for all students. The commission also will look at the funding outlook for public institutions before releasing a final report with policy recommendations. The 14-member commission includes two former governors, business executives, state legislators, the Chancellor of the University of Kansas and the president of Michigan State University. Formal policy recommendations were released in 2016.
• In October 2017 Governor Terry McAuliffe formed the Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which is facilitated by UVA’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation. UVA plays a lead role in advising Virginia on decision-making related to equity and the environment. https://www.arch.virginia.edu/ien/projects-services/governors-advisory-council-on-environmental-justice

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level:

• UVA’s President has signed a letter with other college presidents in support of DACA. (https://www.acenet.edu/Documents/Institutional-DACA-Letter-to-Congress.pdf) That letter has been sent to our congressional representativesL asking them to stand with us to safeguard this path to higher education by maintaining these protections. UVA’s President and Rector also announced on June 16th 2020 that all students, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, will now be eligible for admission and enrollment at UVA. (https://news.virginia.edu/content/uva-announces-all-students-regardless-citizenship-status-are-eligible-enroll)

• UVA’s Batten School of Public Policy and UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center have faculty who have actively been involved in advocating Virginia’s participation in the national RGGI cap and trade program. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector. Following a comprehensive Program Review in 2017, the RGGI states implemented a new cap reduction trajectory of 30% over the period 2020 to 2030. The RGGI CO2 cap represents a regional budget for CO2 emissions from the power sector. States sell nearly all CO2 allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs. These programs are spurring innovation in the clean energy economy and creating green jobs in the RGGI states.

UVA is committed to advocating for green building practices through LEED certification for all new buildings and major renovations. As an early adopter, we been selected for several pilot programs influencing the development of green buildings and have developed one of the most significant green building portfolios of LEED certified buildings - currently 65+ buildings. The portfolio includes certified, silver, gold and platinum buildings. UVA currently serves in the USGBC Higher Ed User Group, which is intended to better serve Higher Ed institutions.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level:

• The University of Virginia’s Environmental Resilience Institute will bring together researchers, global experts, University leaders (including the President of UVA) and the broader University community in April 2021 for a Climate Ambition Summit to examine the frontiers of climate science, strategies for meeting carbon neutrality goals, opportunities for private capital to reduce climate risks and the importance of making environmental justice a core tenet of climate action. (https://eri.virginia.edu/climate-ambition/)
• UVA advocates for public policy at an international level through a program that links students with international education and research opportunities:Education Abroad in Global Environments and Sustainability. The students are involved with research efforts to advance sustainability practices on an international scale: https://educationabroad.virginia.edu/sites/educationabroad.virginia.edu/files/Global%20Environments%20and%20Sustainability%20MAS%20Fall%202016.pdf
• UVA's Office of VP for Research supports and advocates for multiple international efforts for research in sustainability, and most recently began establishing an Institute a year to address global issues. The first three institutes established are: the UVA Brain Institute; the Global Infectious Diseases Institute; and the Environmental Resilience Institute.
• Students and faculty often participate in international climate talks. For example, UVA students have participated as youth delegates in the United Nations Climate Change Conferences.

A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):

A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):

The University does not make political contributions/donations (e.g., PACCs, candidates for office, etc.). Per an opinion from the former Attorney General, the state constitution prohibits the use of state funds for private charitable organizations.

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability advocacy efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The State Governmental Relations’ website, http://www.virginia.edu/governmentalrelations/, serves as a resource for information relating to state and legislative activities and provides details about the office and staff. Reports posted to the website include legislative reports, analyses of the state budget, and summaries of applicable executive orders. The website also includes information about the legislative process, a list of the University’s local legislators, and links to websites related to state relations activities.


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