Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Chelsea Hamilton
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Vanderbilt University
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Chelsea Hamilton
Sustainability Outreach Coordinator
Sustainability and Environmental Management Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a published strategic plan or equivalent guiding document that includes sustainability at a high level? :
Yes

A brief description of how the institution’s strategic plan or equivalent guiding document addresses sustainability:

Vanderbilt University embarked on a multi-year-long process to develop a comprehensive campus land use plan which will support the recently developed Academic Strategic Plan. Launched in November 2015, the aim of the plan is to articulate a comprehensive vision for the university’s footprint and to provide a basis for campus stewardship that enhances the university’s mission. Several new considerations have moved to the foreground since the last land use plan in 2001, such as diversity and inclusivity; the university’s Academic Strategic Plan; environmental sustainability and increased development and traffic around campus. The Land Use Master Plan, termed FutureVU, will include a Sustainability Plan as well as a Stormwater Plan, which will guide these efforts on campus for future years. https://www.vanderbilt.edu/futurevu/
The topic of sustainability is weaved throughout the FutureVU vision and the FutureVU Guiding Principles. As part of the FutureVU planning process, Vanderbilt, alongside Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and Atelier Ten studied Vanderbilt’s current practices, internal stakeholder goals and objectives, peer university programs, and the local and national sustainability context. As part of FutureVU, Atelier Ten prepared a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions forecast, outlining potential targets and scenarios for the university to reach a significant reduction in GHG by 2050. Vanderbilt has launched four comprehensive operational studies to further expand on the forecast recommendations and aid in the development of solutions that result in a significant reduction in the University’s environmental impact. These studies include a Large-Scale Renewable Energy Study, a BlueSky Vision Energy Strategy Study, a Zero Waste Study, and a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Study.

One major potential improvement Vanderbilt may want to consider is the use of renewable energy as part of its power portfolio. As a result of the FutureVU Atelier Ten analysis, Vanderbilt has chosen to study potential options for off-campus, large-scale (larger-than-2MW) renewable energy sources that include distributed solar or wind farms/projects. A competitive process was used to identify an expert partner, Customer First Renewables, to determine the best future renewable energy strategy for Vanderbilt to consider by evaluating the viability of potential options on the basis of key criteria that include financial, social and environmental benefits and risk mitigation. This project kicked off in September 2017 with the formation of an advisory committee and will result in a recommended strategy at the conclusion of its efforts. As a result of FutureVU efforts, major potential opportunities to reduce Vanderbilt's carbon footprint and improve central campus land use were identified within the university's on-campus energy production, distribution and consumption infrastructure and behavior. Even though Vanderbilt converted the existing on-campus combined heat and power plant from primarily coal-fired to natural gas in 2014, substantial opportunities remain, particularly in building and central plant siting and energy efficiency. The BlueSky Energy Vision Study kicked off in November of 2017. The study will culminate in a "BlueSky Energy Vision" for campus energy in late 2018, early 2019.

The Zero Waste Advisory Committee will develop a zero waste plan for Vanderbilt University to include an overarching strategy with milestones and timeline. This plan will include the following goals: diversion from landfill to Zero Waste inclusive of municipal solid waste and construction/demolition waste; waste prevention, reduction, and minimization; aligning with upcoming Metro Nashville Zero Waste Plan; and a robust education and outreach component. The committee began meeting in 2018 and will continue in 2019.

MoveVU, Vanderbilt’s new mobility strategy, has been a unique collaboration with faculty, administrators, staff and students. MoveVU is about creating a plan to better move to and around our campus. MoveVU will consider Vanderbilt’s need to be inclusive and careful in our approach to be better stewards of our environment while meeting the mobility needs of those who live and work at Vanderbilt. MoveVU has received a $4.5 million, three-year federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant, which the university will match. The $9 million total will fund shuttle operations, shuttle shelters, bike share shelters and other efforts to encourage greater use of sustainable travel options.

Vanderbilt University has a comprehensive Environmental Commitment Statement which was developed by over 300 members of Vanderbilt’s faculty, staff, and student body and approved by the Faculty Senate, Vanderbilt Student Government, and the Chancellor’s Office (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/sustainvu/who-we-are/environmental-commitment-statement/). Vanderbilt University also has an Environmental Health and Safety Policy and Commitment Statement, both of which include a commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability (http://www.safety.vanderbilt.edu/committees/environmental-health-and-safety-policy.php and http://www.safety.vanderbilt.edu/committees/environmental-health-and-safety-commitment.php). Additionally, Vanderbilt’s current Chancellor, Nicholas Zeppos, has included sustainability, particularly the conservation of energy and the environment, as one of his current priorities and targeted initiatives for the university (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/chancellor/initiatives/). Numerous individual departments and groups within the institution have also created their own sustainability goals and objectives.

Additionally, VU’s publically available annual sustainability report has a goal of continuous reduction of GHG emissions year to year. The report can be accessed at https://www.vanderbilt.edu/sustainvu/annual-sustainability-report-2017/


A copy of the strategic plan:
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The website URL where the strategic plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a published sustainability plan (apart from what is reported above)? :
No

A copy of the sustainability plan:
---

The website URL where the sustainability plan is publicly available:
---

Does the institution have a published climate action plan (apart from what is reported above)? :
No

A copy of the climate action plan:
---

The website URL where the climate action plan is publicly available:
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Does the institution have other published plans that address sustainability or include measurable sustainability objectives (e.g. campus master plan, physical campus plan, diversity plan, human resources plan)? :
Yes

A list of other published plans that address sustainability, including public website URLs (if available):

The topic of sustainability is weaved throughout the FutureVU vision and the FutureVU Guiding Principles. As part of the FutureVU planning process,, Vanderbilt, alongside Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and Atelier Ten studied Vanderbilt’s current practices, internal stakeholder goals and objectives, peer university programs, and the local and national sustainability context. As part of FutureVU, Atelier Ten prepared a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions forecast, outlining potential targets and scenarios for the university to reach a significant reduction in GHG by 2050. Vanderbilt has launched four comprehensive operational studies to further expand on the forecast recommendations and aid in the development of solutions that result in a significant reduction in the University’s environmental impact. These studies include a Large-Scale Renewable Energy Study, a BlueSky Vision Energy Strategy Study, a Zero Waste Study, and a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Study.

One major potential improvement Vanderbilt may want to consider is the use of renewable energy as part of its power portfolio. As a result of the FutureVU Atelier Ten analysis, Vanderbilt has chosen to study potential options for off-campus, large-scale (larger-than-2MW) renewable energy sources that include distributed solar or wind farms/projects. A competitive process was used to identify an expert partner, Customer First Renewables, to determine the best future renewable energy strategy for Vanderbilt to consider by evaluating the viability of potential options on the basis of key criteria that include financial, social and environmental benefits and risk mitigation. This project kicked off in September 2017 with the formation of an advisory committee and will result in a recommended strategy at the conclusion of its efforts. As a result of FutureVU efforts, major potential opportunities to reduce Vanderbilt's carbon footprint and improve central campus land use were identified within the university's on-campus energy production, distribution and consumption infrastructure and behavior. Even though Vanderbilt converted the existing on-campus combined heat and power plant from primarily coal-fired to natural gas in 2014, substantial opportunities remain, particularly in building and central plant siting and energy efficiency. The BlueSky Energy Vision Study kicked off in November of 2017. The study will culminate in a "BlueSky Energy Vision" for campus energy in early 2019.

The Zero Waste Advisory Committee will develop a zero waste plan for Vanderbilt University to include an overarching strategy with milestones and timeline. This plan will include the following goals: diversion from landfill to Zero Waste inclusive of municipal solid waste and construction/demolition waste; waste prevention, reduction, and minimization; aligning with upcoming Metro Nashville Zero Waste Plan; and a robust education and outreach component. The committee began meeting in 2018 and will continue in 2019.

MoveVU, Vanderbilt’s new mobility strategy, has been a unique collaboration with faculty, administrators, staff and students. MoveVU is about creating a plan to better move to and around our campus. MoveVU will consider Vanderbilt’s need to be inclusive and careful in our approach to be better stewards of our environment while meeting the mobility needs of those who live and work at Vanderbilt. MoveVU has received a $4.5 million, three-year federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant, which the university will match. The $9 million total will fund shuttle operations, shuttle shelters, bike share shelters and other efforts to encourage greater use of sustainable travel options.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Curriculum?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Curriculum and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Research?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Research and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Campus Engagement and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Vanderbilt community has been very involved in the formation of the FutureVU plan and the subsequent initiatives to come out of FutureVU. The VU community, including students, faculty, and staff, are involved in the advisory committees for both the Large-Scale Renewable Energy Strategy Study and the BlueSky Visioning Strategy Study. https://www.vanderbilt.edu/futurevu/


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Public Engagement?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Public Engagement and the published plans in which each objective is included:

FutureVU details sustainability plans for Vanderbilt (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/futurevu/plan.php). A guiding principle of FutureVU is: Vanderbilt is a citizen of Nashville and the region
Contribute to the intellectual and cultural life of the region, and promote sustainable behavior and practices by…
• Remaining committed to Vanderbilt’s mission of serving humanity by being responsible to the environment and surrounding community;
• Establishing design, construction, landscape, and sustainability guidelines that support the mission of the university;
• Emphasizing the importance of healthy and sustainable design principles in both building design and outdoor environments;
• Developing and transferring knowledge, increasing awareness, and promoting lifelong learning about sustainable best practices to benefit the Vanderbilt, local, state and national communities;
• Partnering with local and regional agencies to address key issues that affect the citizens of Nashville and the Vanderbilt community;
• Playing a role in discussions regarding community building efforts and continuing to form connections with the Nashville community


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Air & Climate?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Air & Climate and the published plans in which each objective is included:

MoveVU, Vanderbilt’s new mobility strategy has received a $4.5 million, three-year federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant, which the university will match. The $9 million total will fund shuttle operations, shuttle shelters, bike share shelters and other efforts to encourage greater use of sustainable travel options. The CMAQ program was implemented to support surface transportation projects and other related efforts that contribute air quality improvements and provide congestion relief.

FutureVU details sustainability plans for Vanderbilt (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/futurevu/plan.php). A guiding principle of FutureVU is: Vanderbilt is a walkable and sustainable campus.
Emphasize Vanderbilt’s walkable campus and enhance the connectivity of all areas of campus by…
• Integrating pedestrian and bicycle circulation into the overall connectivity of the campus community;
• Providing wayfinding that integrates with campus landscape and architecture;
• Reducing vehicular through-traffic on campus;
• Relocating existing, and locating new parking structures and new support structures such as physical plants, to the perimeter of campus when viable;
• Carefully selecting hardscape materials and providing campus lighting promoting safety and ensuring harmonious interaction other campus materials;
• Achieving the highest standards of sustainability through a process of environmental, social and economic responsibility and accountability.
As a result of FutureVU efforts, major potential opportunities to reduce Vanderbilt's carbon footprint and improve central campus land use were identified within the university's on-campus energy production, distribution and consumption infrastructure and behavior. Even though Vanderbilt converted the existing on-campus combined heat and power plant from primarily coal-fired to natural gas in 2014, substantial opportunities remain, particularly in building and central plant siting and energy efficiency. The BlueSky Energy Vision Study kicked off in November of 2017. The study will culminate in a "BlueSky Energy Vision" for campus energy in 2019.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Buildings?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Buildings and the published plans in which each objective is included:

A green building resolution was passed by Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) in Fall 2011, which states that the student body will advocate for the pursuit of the USGBC LEED Silver Certification for all new projects exceeding $5 million in cost and will encourage the university to attain the highest possible LEED certification in renovation and new building projects costing less than $5 million.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Energy?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Energy and the published plans in which each objective is included:

As a result of FutureVU efforts, major potential opportunities to reduce Vanderbilt's carbon footprint and improve central campus land use were identified within the university's on-campus energy production, distribution and consumption infrastructure and behavior. Even though Vanderbilt converted the existing on-campus combined heat and power plant from primarily coal-fired to natural gas in 2014, substantial opportunities remain, particularly in building and central plant siting and energy efficiency. The BlueSky Energy Vision Study kicked off in November of 2017. The study will culminate in a "BlueSky Energy Vision" for campus energy in 2019


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Food & Dining?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Food & Dining and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Vanderbilt was recently awarded membership in the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC). Co-founded and jointly led by Stanford University and The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative is a working group of leading scholars, foodservice business leaders, and executive chefs from invited colleges and universities who are accelerating efforts to move Americans toward healthier, more sustainable, plant-forward diets. MCURC encourages local sourcing and sustainable food choices. Vanderbilt is adopting the Menus of Change guiding principles of healthy, sustainable menus found here: http://www.menusofchange.org/principles-resources/moc-principles/


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Grounds?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Grounds and the published plans in which each objective is included:

FutureVU details sustainability plans for Vanderbilt (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/futurevu/plan.php). A guiding principle of FutureVU is: Vanderbilt is a university that resides in a unique and distinctive park setting
Preserve, strengthen and expand Vanderbilt’s aesthetic character by…
• Identifying buildings, open spaces and natural spaces that should be preserved and conserved;
• Identifying memorable spaces and preserving them, while also looking to create additional memorable spaces;
• Recognizing and preserving the Vanderbilt Arboretum;
• Ensuring that future development reinforces, rather than detracts from, the park setting, via green open spaces and pathways;
• Considering ways to integrate public art along pathways and beautifying pathways through art and landscape;
• Continuing to preserve and expand the Vanderbilt campus character through regular evaluation of how cars and traffic interact with the campus boundaries and reducing, rather than adding to, the number of roadways.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Purchasing?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Purchasing and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Transportation?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Transportation and the published plans in which each objective is included:

MoveVU, Vanderbilt’s new mobility strategy, has been a unique collaboration with faculty, administrators, staff and students. MoveVU is about creating a plan to better move to and around our campus. MoveVU will consider Vanderbilt’s need to be inclusive and careful in our approach to be better stewards of our environment while meeting the mobility needs of those who live and work at Vanderbilt. MoveVU has received a $4.5 million, three-year federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant, which the university will match. The $9 million total will fund shuttle operations, shuttle shelters, bike share shelters and other efforts to encourage greater use of sustainable travel options. The plan will be released shortly.

FutureVU details sustainability plans for Vanderbilt (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/futurevu/plan.php). A guiding principle of FutureVU is: Vanderbilt is a walkable and sustainable campus.
Emphasize Vanderbilt’s walkable campus and enhance the connectivity of all areas of campus by…
• Integrating pedestrian and bicycle circulation into the overall connectivity of the campus community;
• Providing wayfinding that integrates with campus landscape and architecture;
• Reducing vehicular through-traffic on campus;
• Relocating existing, and locating new parking structures and new support structures such as physical plants, to the perimeter of campus when viable;
• Carefully selecting hardscape materials and providing campus lighting promoting safety and ensuring harmonious interaction other campus materials;
• Achieving the highest standards of sustainability through a process of environmental, social and economic responsibility and accountability.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Waste?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Waste and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Zero Waste Advisory Committee will develop a zero waste plan for Vanderbilt University to include an overarching strategy with milestones and timeline. This plan will include the following goals: diversion from landfill to Zero Waste inclusive of municipal solid waste and construction/demolition waste; waste prevention, reduction, and minimization; aligning with upcoming Metro Nashville Zero Waste Plan; and a robust education and outreach component.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Water?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Water and the published plans in which each objective is included:

FutureVU includes stormwater improvement goals for campus included in neighborhood land use targets. Maintaining and increasing tree canopy will intercept rainfall, limit erosion and support tree health. Water will have increased opportunity to infiltrate, promoting capture by tree root systems. Reduction of impervious surfaces will increase infiltration and keep water on site, promoting plant growth, limiting irrigation needs and reducing loads on the municipal storm drain infrastructure. Stormwater management should be expressed as features to promote an understanding of its importance. Building project specific stormwater management should reflect an overall and consistent design strategy.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Diversity & Affordability and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Full objectives are articulated in the FutureVU report. A guiding principle of FutureVU is: Vanderbilt believes that diversity and inclusion are integral to its mission
Recognize the diversity of the Vanderbilt community, which is integral to understanding the humanistic nature of Vanderbilt’s mission by…

• Clearly contextualizing diversity, equity and inclusion for the campus community through careful space design;
• Developing and promoting a community environment that is welcoming, where an appreciation of differences can be shared throughout campus;
• Creating centers as places where differences converge and opportunities to make healthy connections exist;
• Promoting social interaction of Vanderbilt’s diverse population throughout the campus footprint, enhancing the connected neighborhood feel of campus, while ensuring the safety of all members of the community;
Carefully reviewing accessibility of current and future spaces designed to ensure inclusivity, including for those with physical impairments or disabilities.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas (e.g. arts and culture or technology)?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Does the institution have a formal statement in support of sustainability endorsed by its governing body (e.g. a mission statement that specifically includes sustainability and is endorsed by the Board of Trustees)? :
Yes

The formal statement in support of sustainability:

Vanderbilt Environmental Commitment Statement:
Vanderbilt University is a local and global community leader committed to environmental stewardship, protecting natural resources, and enhancing quality of life while maintaining academic, medical, social, and economic productivity. Through proactive education, research, and outreach, we strive to:
• Develop and transfer knowledge, increase awareness, and promote lifelong learning about sustainability best practices for the benefit of stakeholders who comprise the Vanderbilt community (students, patients, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors), as well as the broader Nashville, state, national, and global communities;
• Achieve the highest standards of sustainability through a process of environmental responsibility and accountability at every level of University activity; and
• Consistently implement, monitor, evaluate, and improve our process.
In 2009, the Faculty Senate requested that the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) developed an environmental commitment statement for the university. The EAC collaborated with more than 100 stakeholders throughout the VU community including faculty, staff and students to produce a succinct and targeted statement declaring VU’s commitment to environmental protection. The statement, after having been endorsed by over 300 members of the faculty, staff, and student bodies, was revealed publicly on Earth Day 2009, in conjunction with Vanderbilt’s baseline greenhouse gas emissions inventory.


The institution’s definition of sustainability (e.g. as included in a published statement or plan):
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Is the institution an endorser or signatory of the following? :
Yes or No
The Earth Charter ---
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) ---
ISCN-GULF Sustainable Campus Charter ---
Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment (formerly known as the ACUPCC), Resilience Commitment, and/or integrated Climate Commitment ---
The Talloires Declaration (TD) ---
UN Global Compact ---
Other multi-dimensional sustainability commitments (please specify below) ---

A brief description of the institution’s formal sustainability commitments, including the specific initiatives selected above:

A green building resolution was passed by Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) in Fall 2011, which states that the student body will advocate for the pursuit of the USGBC LEED Silver Certification for all new projects exceeding $5 million in cost and will encourage the university to attain the highest possible LEED certification in renovation and new building projects costing less than $5 million.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.