Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 60.83
Liaison Parker Long
Submission Date March 2, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Virginia Commonwealth University
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
3.25 / 4.00 Joseph Costa
Sustainability Projects and Program Coordinator
Sustainability
"---" 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:

In June 2011, the VCU BOV approved Quest for Distinction, a six-year strategic plan that would guide the university until the end of the 2017-18 academic year. Though this plan says 2011-2017, the Board of Visitors has approved to extend the plan through 2018, until the new strategic plan is fully finalized and approved.

The VCU Quest for Distinction includes sustainability as one of six guiding principals (see page 10) and details a commitment to infusing sustainability into stewardship of university resources, and into research and curricular activities. Sustainability as a core concept of sustainability and a commitment to educing GHG emissions are detailed on page 25. Specific sustainability goals, metrics, and illustrative university initiatives are detailed on page 26 under Theme VI, goal C.

Quest's implementation provided the university a roadmap to becoming a premier urban, public research university focused on academic quality and student success. The plan provides a strategic framework for capitalizing on the outstanding assets that form the VCU experience — a commitment to educational quality, an environment that embraces diversity, an evolving research program with substantial increases in extramural funding, pre-eminent academic programs, an engaged community and a growing alumni base. It is an aggressive call to focused action that requires a disciplined concentration on strategic priorities and a commitment to accountability, using data to inform decisions.

https://quest.vcu.edu/media/quest/assets/theplan_full.pdf

NOTE: File was "too large" for submission, you can find a full copy of the plan at the following url
https://quest.vcu.edu/

VCU is currently drafting a new Strategic Plan Quest 2.0, together we transform. The new strategic plan follows and builds upon the current Quest for Distinction plan. Using "Quest 2025" continues Quest's significant brand equity and continuity, and shows VCU is building on Quest's momentum and progress.

The word "transform", meanwhile, illustrates exactly what VCU is trying to do - serve as a catalyst for change for our students, our patients, our city and our communities. And we are doing it together as one university, committed to excellence and access in a way that invites a variety of voices and perspectives to the table.


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)? :
Yes

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)? :
Yes

A copy of the climate action plan:
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The website URL where the climate action plan is publicly available:
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):

Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan, https://inclusive.vcu.edu/about-us/strategic-action-plan/


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

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

VCU Sustainability Plan:
Provide resources to better engage students about sustainability within academics.
- Establish a baseline number of students enrolled in Service
Learning courses that have a sustainability focus.
- Increase the number of students enrolled in sustainability-focused Service Learning courses by 5% annually, based on established baseline, beginning in FY17.
- Determine the number of faculty who teach sustainability focused Service Learning courses. Provide resources, assistance and incentives for faculty to create Service-Learning courses as well as infuse Service-Learning principles into their existing courses.


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

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

Published in VCU Sustainability Plan:
Measurable objectives:
3.2 - Establish a core network for trans-disciplinary sustainability interactions, by designating a contact point person for each academic unit.
3.5 - Establish a centralized repository with sustainability in academics resources. Develop a tiered approach to sustainability courses and programs for students.
3.7 - Develop and implement a financial support model for sustainability in research and academics.


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:

Measurable objectives:
4.0 - Provide resources to better engage student groups and volunteers around sustainability.
4.1 - Identify all student organizations with a sustainability focus, annually, beginning in FY16, in collaboration with University Student Commons and Activities. Meet with all student groups with a sustainability focus to educate them on university goals and provide suggested projects, beginning in FY17. Office of Sustainability will develop a system to identify projects needed for VCU, on an ongoing basis.
4.2 - Create calendar/list of sustainability volunteering groups and opportunities, via the Office of Sustainability website. Collaborate with Student Affairs and Community Engagement on app-tracking system to track sustainability-focused volunteering
opportunities and student group projects.
5.2 - Create incentives for sustainable department habits and operations.
5.3 - Have at least 5 offices/departments complete Green Office certification annually, beginning in FY16.
5.4 - Develop incentives to participate in Green Office program. Identify the sustainability training needs of faculty and staff. Provide appropriate trainings to faculty and staff on sustainability and environmental issues, beginning in FY17. Provide resources to better engage students about sustainability within academics.
6.1 - Establish a baseline number of students enrolled in Service Learning courses that have a sustainability focus, by end of FY16. Increase the number of students enrolled in sustainability-focused Service Learning courses by 5% annually, based on established baseline, beginning in FY17.
6.2 - Determine the number of faculty who teach sustainability focused Service Learning courses, by end of FY16. Provide resources, assistance and incentives for faculty to create Service-Learning courses as well as infuse Service-Learning principles into their existing courses, by end of FY16.
Published in VCU Sustainability Plan, 2015


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:

Measurable Objectives:
4.3 - Capture the number of hours of sustainability-focused community service, on an annual basis, beginning in FY16. Increase hours by 10% on an annual basis beginning in FY17. Identify best practices to provide and track volunteer opportunities. Provide resources to better engage faculty and staff on sustainability within VCU and the greater Richmond community.
5.1 - Determine regional sustainability priorities and share that information publicly via the Office of Sustainability website, to faculty, staff and students. VCU will actively participate in the city of Richmond’s Green City Commission and will have an ongoing presence to support city issues and regional priorities.
Published in VCU Sustainability Plan, 2015.


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:

Measurable objective:
- Reduce GHG emissions to 30% below business-as-usual by 2025 in accordance with the Virginia Energy Plan (2007)
- Achieve net zero GHG emissions by, or as soon after 2050 as technology and
financial considerations will allow.
Published in VCU Climate Action Plan, 2010.


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:

Measurable Objectives:
10.1 Increase utilization of building automation systems where appropriate to increase energy efficiency. Design and implement best practices for all VCU facilities to conserve energy.
Published in VCU Sustainability Plan, 2015.

- Ensure that the Campus Master Plan adheres to LEED construction and best practices in sustainability.
Published in VCU Quest for Distinction, 2011.


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:

Measurable Objectives:
9.1 - Upgrade lighting to best available technology in all feasible areas as lighting systems are replaced or installed. Install motion detectors in all appropriate areas by end of FY20. Also, investigate departmental metering of electricity use to encourage increased conservation.
9.2 - In partnership with the Planning and Administration subcommittee, develop and implement education programs for faculty, staff and students to influence positive behavior change to conserve energy by 6/30/2016.
9.3 - Evaluate new technologies and methodologies for reducing energy consumption and build them into the plan as practical.
10.0 - Increase energy efficiency education programs.
10.1 - Increase utilization of building automation systems where appropriate to increase energy efficiency. Design and implement best practices for all VCU facilities to conserve energy.
Published in VCU Sustainability Plan, 2015.


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:

Measurable Objectives:
17.2 - Promote local and sustainable food options available within Richmond to the VCU community.
Published in VCU Sustainability Plan, 2015.


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:

Measurable Objectives:
8.1 - Through a feasibility study, develop a stormwater management plan that reduces the impact on the James River watershed. Investigate increased use of native plants and sustainable grounds management where feasible.
Published in VCU Sustainability Plan, 2015.


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:

Measurable Objectives:
- Reduce staff SOV by a minimum of 6% annually by a combination of converting 3% to transit ridership and another 3% to carpool.
- Reduce commuting population to no greater than 50% of student body
- Reduce faculty SOV by a minimum of 6% annually by a combination of converting 3% to transit ridership and another 3% to carpool.
- Carefully analyze SOV costs to ensure that transit options maintain a price advantage.
- Purchase offsets for air travel for 50-100% of all air travel miles.
- Introduce car-sharing organizations like Zipcar to operate on campus.
- Complement SOV restrictions with a guaranteed ride home program.
Published in, VCU Climate Action Plan, 2010


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:

Measurable Objectives:
11.1 - Reduce solid waste by 3% each year and increase waste diversion by 3% each calendar year from 2016 - 2020, using the 2014 diversion rate as a baseline.
11.2 - In partnership with the Planning and Administrative subcommittee, develop and implement education programs for faculty
Published in, VCU Sustainability Plan, 2015

staff and students on single stream recy-
cling and other waste reduction programs.

12
Increase waste
diversion rate.

12.1 Increase diversion rate by encourag-
ing reuse over resale, resale over recycling

and recycling over landfill disposal. Look
at the feasibility of diverting pre- and
post- consumer waste from dining areas on
campus to increase waste diversion.

12.2 Evaluate new technologies and meth-
odologies for increasing waste diversion

and build them into the plan as practical.


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:

Measurable Objectives:
7.1 - Upgrade water fixtures in all areas where appropriate to conserve water by end of FY20. In partnership with the Planning and Administration subcommittee develop and implement education programs for faculty, staff and students to increase water conservation by end of FY16.
7.2 - Evaluate new technologies and methodologies for reducing water consumption and build them into the plan as practical.
8.0 - Reduce water requiring treatment from VCU facilities.
Published in, VCU Sustainability Plan, 2015


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:

Published in Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan

Measurable Objectives:
Goal 1 Measures
Completion and approval of a Five Year Diversity Plan.
Resources expended for plan implementation.
Creation of Diversity Review Commissions that assist with development of unit diversity plans.
Dissemination of model diversity plans.
Creation of a highly visible diversity website on the University Homepage that assists in dissemination of information related to diversity and that provides a central location for announcements and promotion of events that celebrate diversity.

Goal 2 Measures (Timeline year 2)
Increase in diversity of institutional leadership.
Goal 3 Measures (Timeline year 1)
Reward innovative strategies that include monetary and nonmonetary benefits for advancing inclusive excellence.
Published in, VCU Quest for Distinction
Goal 4 Measures (Timeline year 3)
Increase in diversity of staff in higher pay bands.

Goal 5 Measures (Timeline year 1 ongoing)
Utilize enrollment and recruitment reports to track progress in recruiting and increasing historically underrepresented students.


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)? :
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The formal statement in support of sustainability:
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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 Yes
The Talloires Declaration (TD) Yes
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:
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The strategic plan, master plan, and sustainability plan have all taken the time to reach out to the community for input, and has guided sustainable progress over the last 3-5 years. New drafts of all 3 plans are currently in progress.

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.