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

STARS v2.2

University of Virginia
IN-26: Nitrogen Footprint

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Andrea Trimble
Director - Office for Sustainability
Office for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

A copy of the institution's nitrogen footprint:
Website URL where the institution's nitrogen footprint is available:
Are the following included in the institution’s nitrogen footprint?:
Yes, No, or N/A
Utilities Yes
Food consumption Yes
Food production Yes
Fertilizer use Yes
Transportation Yes
Research animals Yes

Year the institution’s nitrogen footprint was completed or last updated:

A brief description of the methodology or tool used to calculate the institution’s nitrogen footprint:

Setting system boundaries: In 2010, the UVA full-time population included 18,019 full-time degree seeking students, 4,571 part-time or non-degree seeking students, 12,189 full-time employees, and 1,550 part-time employees. Each member of the UVA community contributes to the system’s overall N footprint in distinct ways. A student living on the University Grounds is likely to contribute a large portion of their personal footprint to the overall UVA N footprint because much of their energy use and food consumption will take place in UVA-owned facilities. In contrast, a student living off-Grounds may not have a meal plan and much of their personal energy use will occur in privately-owned facilities. For employees, the UVA N footprint will include their commutes to the university and energy use and food purchased associated with their activities on-Grounds.

In an effort to fairly account for all N lost to the environment as a result of the UVA community’s activities, the system lines for the UVA N footprint are bounded by the University’s geographical presence as well as the “upstream” consequences of University activities.

The model surveys UVA’s main campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, divided among the University’s Central Grounds, Health System, and North Grounds. This model takes into account the N lost to the environment due to food consumed in the UVA dining venues, energy used at UVA, animals used in research facilities, fuel used by the University’s fleet, and on-Grounds fertilizer application. Any N losses due to food or energy consumption that occur in off-Grounds housing units not provisioned by the university are not included in this model.

The Sustainability Indicators Management and Analysis Platform (SIMAP) is currently being used to calculate and track the university’s N footprint. This tool splits both the carbon and N footprints into scopes based on the relation to the university. Scope 1 includes sources of direct campus losses from: stationary sources, mobile sources, and fugitive losses such as fertilizer use, chemicals and refrigerants, and animal husbandry. Scope 2 includes losses from purchased electricity and purchased and sold renewable energy. Scope 3 includes losses from “upstream” and “downstream” activities such as daily commutes by faculty, staff, and students, production and distribution of goods such as food, losses from wastewater and waste treatment.

The upstream N losses include: a) the N released in the production and transportation of food ordered and served in university dining venues, b) the N released to the environment due to municipal sewage treated off-Grounds, and c) the N released in the transportation of commuters to and from UVA. Despite the consideration of food production, upstream production losses associated with other goods purchased by the university, including paper, furniture, and research supplies, are not included in this model at this time due to data and analytical constraints.

Additionally, the model recognizes that UVA fits into the larger system of Charlottesville and operates within the city framework. Thus, N removal in the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) sewage treatment facility is factored into the UVA N model. N recycled back into the Charlottesville community that leaves the university system, such as through food waste donations and composting, is subtracted from the overall footprint because it has left the UVA system and is then re-used. As data and reporting methodologies improve in coming years, total emissions figures will be recalculated. The numbers cited in this report are based on most current methodology. These values should not be compared with future results without first accounting for variations caused by inventory methodology. Future reports will evaluate differences in methodology and provide the relevant context for cross-referencing information over time.

UVA’s baseline N footprint was 290 MT N in 2010. The food sector (consumption and production) contributed approximately 52 percent of the total N losses. Energy-related activities (electricity, heating, transportation) contributed approximately 45 percent of the total and wastewater contributed the remaining 3 percent of the total footprint.

Additional documentation to support the submission:





In 2013, the University of Virginia (UVA) became the first institution to set an official nitrogen reduction goal: reduce the university’s reactive nitrogen losses to the environment by 25% below 2010 levels by 2025. Continuing on its path to assess and reduce the harmful impacts of reactive nitrogen, UVA became the first university in the world to release a Nitrogen Action Plan to set forth a transparent roadmap to meet this goal. UVA is home to leading-edge nitrogen research that looks at impacts, causes and reduction strategies for reactive nitrogen. While most nitrogen in the atmosphere exists as inert gas, reactive nitrogen is found in many forms that contribute to environmental and human health issues, including algae blooms, ozone depletion, forest dieback, and respiratory illness. Reactive nitrogen is a common byproduct of three important processes: energy combustion, food production, and wastewater treatment.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.