Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 71.02
Liaison Nathan King
Submission Date Oct. 15, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

Virginia Tech
ER-12: Sustainability Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Sean McGinnis
Director, Green Engineering Program
College of Engineering
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Does the institution offer a program that meets the criteria for this credit?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive experience(s) offered by the institution:

One such program is "Sustainable Europe" (VT/UAP #3954/5954 and UVA/PLAN #5500). Sustainable Europe is a four-week immersive, sustainability-focused educational study-abroad program conducted for the fifth consecutive year in 2014. The program is based at Virginia Tech’s Center for European Study and Architecture in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, and includes Virginia Tech and University of Virginia faculty and students. Undergraduate and graduate students earn six credit hours for the program, which includes field study trips to Lucerne and Bern, Switzerland and Freiburg, Germany.

The 2013 Sustainable Europe program had three modules:

1. Sustainable Energy: Why does the average European account for 40% of the consumed energy and carbon emissions of the average American? What do they know and do that we don’t?

2. Sustainable Water Resource Management: How Do Switzerland and other European countries approach water protection, supply, and risk?

3. Sustainable Transportation in European Cities: How Do European Cities Promote Walking, Cycling, and Public Transport?

The 2014 Sustainable Europe program, titled “Sustainability and Planning Policy in Contemporary Europe” had three modules:

1. Urban Planning in Europe: Diversity and Commonality.

2. Integrated Water Resource Management: Fun, Profit, and the Environment

3. Making Urban Transport Sustainable: How Do European Cities Promote Walking, Cycling, and Public Transport?

To learn more about the Sustainable Europe program, please see: http://europestudies.wordpress.com/

Virginia Tech’s renown College of Engineering also offers a sustainability-focused immersive experience: the Green Engineering Program.

The program defines Green Engineering as “environmentally conscious attitudes, values, and principles, combined with science, technology, and engineering practice, all directed toward improving local and global environmental quality.” Green Engineering encompasses all of the engineering disciplines, and is consistent and compatible with sound engineering design principles.

Green Engineering focuses on the design of materials, processes, systems, and devices with the objective of minimizing overall environmental impact (including energy utilization and waste production) throughout the entire life cycle of a product or process, from initial extraction of raw materials used in manufacture to ultimate disposal of materials that cannot be reused or recycled at the end of the useful life of a product.

The Green Engineering Program consists of a curriculum (Green Engineering Minor) plus associated research projects and collaborations on and off campus. The minor and core classes are part of the College of Engineering rather than any specific department. The program is mainly focused on undergraduates, though graduate student interest and opportunities are increasing.

The Green Minor requires 18 credits:
• 2 core classes – ENGR 3124 (Intro to Green Engineering) and ENGR 4134 (Environmental Life Cycle Assessment)
• 2 Engineering Electives with environmental content
• 2 Interdisciplinary Electives with environmental focus

Student demand for the Green Engineering Program continues to climb. In the 2013 – 14 academic year, 168 green engineering minors from 14 majors were awarded. For the 2014 – 15 years, more than 500 students are currently signed up for the green engineering minor.

For more information about the Green Engineering Program, please see: www.eng.vt.edu/green

The website URL where information about the immersive experience is available:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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