Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.40
Liaison Parker Long
Submission Date Aug. 27, 2021

STARS v2.2

Virginia Commonwealth University
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 4.00 Jake Holweger
Sustainability Intern
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in curriculum and/or research?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to academics and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Academic Goals and strategies published in VCU Sustainability Plan (2015-2020, officially extended to be valid through 2021 until new draft plan is adopted in final version)
2.1 Establish formal connections with VCU Community Engagement and Service Learning.
2.2 Develop and maintain database of research projects in conjunction with Office of Research/Office of Sponsored Programs.
2.3 Establish and develop relationships with external constituencies (e.g., companies, community organizations) to generate internship and project opportunities.
2.4 Compile and distribute information on sustainability-related community programs, both local and beyond.
3.1 Establish a permanent position (ideally, housed within the Office of the Provost) to implement and oversee sustainability academics at VCU.
3.2 Establish a core network for trans-disciplinary sustainability interactions, by designating a contact point person for each academic unit.
3.3 Engage with a communications expert to develop and improve sustainability in academics messaging.
3.4 Develop a tiered approach to sustainability training for faculty and staff.
3.5 Establish a centralized repository with sustainability in academics resources. Develop a tiered approach to sustainability courses and programs for students.
3.6 Contact and benchmark existing sustainability in academics programs at other universities.
3.7 Develop and implement a financial support model for sustainability in academics.


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address student, employee, or community engagement for sustainability?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to engagement and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Engagement Goals and strategies published in VCU Sustainability Plan (2015-2020, officially extended to be valid through 2021 until new draft plan is adopted in final version)
4.0 - Provide resources to better engage student groups and volunteers around sustainability.
4.1 - Identify all student organizations with a sustainability focus, annually, 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. 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.
5.4 - Develop incentives to participate in Sustainability Office program. Identify the sustainability training needs of faculty and staff. Provide appropriate trainings to faculty and staff on sustainability and environmental issues. 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. Increase the number of students enrolled in sustainability-focused Service Learning courses by 5% annually, based on established baseline.
6.2 - 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.


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in operations?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to operations and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Operations Goals and strategies published in VCU Sustainability Plan (2015-2020, officially extended to be valid through 2021 until new draft plan is adopted in final version)
7.1 Upgrade water fixtures in all areas where appropriate to conserve water. In partnership with the Planning and Administration subcommittee develop and implement education programs for faculty, staff and students to increase water conservation.
7.2 Evaluate new technologies and methodologies for reducing water consumption and build them into the plan as practical.
8.1 Through a feasibility study, develop a storm water management plan that reduces the impact on the James River watershed. Investigate increased use of native plants and sustainable grounds management where feasible.
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. 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.
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.
11.1 Reduce solid waste by 3% each year and increase waste diversion by 3% each calendar year from 2016 - 2021, 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, staff and students on single stream recycling and other waste reduction programs.
12.1 Increase diversion rate by encouraging 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 methodologies for increasing waste diversion and build them into the plan as practical.
13.1 Develop university-wide policies to reduce parking demand and single occupant vehicle usage.
13.2 Fully implement a bike share program, university-wide.
13.3 Develop parking policies that balance the parking demand throughout the campus, maximizing parking in underutilized facilities through better aligned parking facilities with transit options.
13.4 Promote safe corridors for alternative modes of transportation including but not limited to cyclists and pedestrians, further reducing single occupancy vehicle travel.
13.5 Promote and expand VCU’s transit network by strengthening existing partnership with GRTC as well as better integrating systems considering pending implementation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
13.6 Strengthen and expand bicycle infrastructure for bike commuters, including additional bike racks, bike lockers, and bike shelters.
14.1 Develop university-wide policies to promote the use of alternative transportation methods through intra-campus travel.
14.2 Reduce the size of the fleet and increase fuel efficiency, university-wide.
14.3 Consider opportunities for shared vehicle utilization through the development of a motor pool with a departmental online reservation system.
14.4 Implement anti-idling policy for all VCU-owned vehicles.
14.5 Implement preventative maintenance program for university fleet, to extend vehicular life.
14.6 Continue to work to infuse alternative fuel vehicles into the university fleet.


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainable investment/finance; or wellbeing?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to administration and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Administration - measurable sustainability objectives that address diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainable investment/finance; or wellbeing (Published in VCU Quest 2025: Together We Transform, 2019)
Quest 2025 – Theme IV: Diversity Driving Excellence: “VCU strives to ensure a climate of mutual respect and trust where individuals of differing cultural backgrounds, identities, abilities and life experiences are embraced, engaged and empowered to drive excellence and achieve success. We are committed to, reflect upon and pursue inclusive excellence in all that we are, do and aspire to be. We acknowledge individuals come to VCU with various ideas, experiences and strengths, all of which we recognize as assets to the university. To that end, VCU will intentionally integrate its efforts to achieve, sustain and grow inclusive excellence into the core aspects of our institution — our academic priorities, leadership, quality improvement initiatives, decision-making, day-to-day operations, community engagement and organizational cultures. Every member of the university community has a stake in and responsibility for VCU’s continual achievement of inclusive excellence. Every member of the university community should know VCU is a place where they can come and achieve their goals, and that VCU is invested in their success, health and well-being.”

Goals and Strategies in Quest 2025: Together We Transform published 2019
IV.1 Advance institutional excellence through a commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity fostered through a culture of appreciation and respect. VCU will:
- Foster inclusive practices and differences in ways that build cohesive communities and a positive climate
- Develop a university-wide culture of appreciation that is reflected in day-to-day behaviors, activities and campus life and is expected of all academic and administrative units
Work in innovative ways to inspire change and promote dialogue and action on diversity, inclusion and equity within and across units
IV.2 Build and sustain the infrastructure to enhance diversity, inclusion and equity at all levels of the university to support teaching, research, scholarship, creative expression and service. VCU will:
- Fully implement the university Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan as an integral component in achieving institution priorities
- Expand iCubed program
- Use diversity, inclusion and equity-related assessment data to inform investments of resources in alignment with university priorities
IV.3 Establish diversity as an imperative in the development and implementation of strategies and policies and in decisions regarding resource allocation
- Integrate inclusive excellence goals, targets and benchmarks into the performance evaluation of leadership, and reward success.
- Factor in the implications on diversity, inclusion and equity in financial and operational decision-making processes

Goals and strategies published in VCU Sustainability Plan (2015-2020, officially extended to be valid through 2021 until new draft plan is adopted in final version)
15.1 Assess and document existing educational programs and materials.
15.2 Mobilize key partners such as SGA, Staff Senate, Faculty Senate and student organizations to enhance communication across the VCU community.
15.3 Audit peer institutions as identified by AASHE to assess successful communication practices that may serve as examples for VCU.
15.4 Develop a digital marketing plan targeting energy and water conservation as well as waste reduction.
15.5 Pilot test marketing plan with previously identified key partners.
15.6 Implement digital marketing and communication around energy, waste and water.
15.7 Leverage online analytics to track usage of online materials and inform where improvements or changes need to be made.
16.0 Explore the feasibility of increasing pay for student workers at VCU.
16.1 Assess worker pay for other businesses near VCU with high percentages of VCU student employees.
16.2 Assess student pay within VCU currently and within the past five years. Key partners include Human Resources, Career Services, Rec Sports, VCU Housing and Student Affairs.
16.3 Compile findings and make recommendations in a final report.


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

The institution’s highest guiding document (upload):
Website URL where the institution’s highest guiding document is publicly available:
Which of the following best describes the inclusion of sustainability in the highest guiding document?:
Minor theme

The institution's sustainability plan (upload):
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Website URL where the institution's sustainability plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a formal statement in support of sustainability endorsed by its governing body?:
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The formal statement in support of sustainability:
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The institution’s definition of sustainability:
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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 ---
Pan-Canadian Protocol for Sustainability ---
SDG Accord ---
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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Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability planning efforts is available:
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 10 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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.