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

STARS v1.2

Virginia Tech
PAE-4: Sustainability Plan

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Dennis Cochrane
Director, Office of Sustainability
Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure and Facilities
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Does the institution have a sustainability plan that meets the criteria for this credit?:

A brief description of how multiple stakeholder groups were involved in developing the plan:

On December 10, 2007, leaders of our student group Environmental Coalition met with former Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger and encouraged him to consider signing the “Presidents Climate Commitment (PCC).” Following a detailed review of this generic document on April 23, 2008 (Earth Week) President Steger announced his decision to not sign the PCC and to charge the newly created Energy and Sustainability Committee (E&SC) to develop a climate action commitment and sustainability plan that was unique to Virginia Tech and achievable. In addition, he charged the E&SC to place the commitment in resolution format and to have the resolution and sustainability plan reviewed by the university governance system before the end of the 2009 spring semester. He announced his decision in a personal message to the President of the Environmental Coalition and he encouraged student participation in this important tasking.

The Energy and Sustainability Committee is one of 14 university governance committees. The 19 member Committee contains 4 student representatives - 2 graduate and 2 undergraduate students. This is unique in that all of the other committees only have 2 student representatives.

The E&SC established a 20 member Subcommittee representing all facets of the university to include faculty and staff from academic and administrative units, facilities, and campus life, and students. As the plan was being developed the Subcommittee reached out to many other subject matter experts.

The Energy & Sustainability Committee developed the “Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Plan (VTCAC&SP)” during calendar year 2008. The Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment (VTCAC) consists of 14 distinct points and it is subset of the overall Sustainability Plan. During the 2009 spring semester the VTCAC&SP was advanced through the Commission on University Support and subsequently to the University Council for review and approval. On April 22, 2009 (Earth Day) the University Council recommended approval of the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment (VTCAC) and accepted the 200-page accompanying Sustainability Plan (VTCAC&SP). On June 1, 2009 the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors unanimously approved the VTCAC and it became university policy (Presidential Policy Memorandum Number 262).

For a complete list of stakeholders, please see the “Acknowledgements” (pages 1& 2) of the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Plan dated April 22, 2009:

A brief description of the plan’s measurable goals :

The Sustainability Plan (VTCAC&SP) is a “working document” that provides actions and measures to assist the university with achieving the targets and goals set forth in the 14 point VTCAC. The Sustainability Plan is divided into six major separate categories to include:

Administrative Structure and Governance
Facilities Infrastructure
Facilities Operations
Behavior and Campus Life
Academic Programs

Another key feature of the Sustainability Plan is that it is divided into three distinct time horizons called phases to include the following:

2009-2012 Immediate Phase.
2013-2025 Mid-Term Phase
2026-2050 Long-Term Phase

In summary, the Sustainability Plan (VTCAC&SP) is a working document that contains actions and measures for all of the six separate categories and for all of the three phases.

Point #13 of the VTCAC makes mention that the documents are subject to review based on internal and external conditions, and that changes to targets and goals may be necessary. At the conclusion of the Immediate Phase, the Energy and Sustainability Committee (E&SC) determined that, based on three years of implementation, we should review and modify as necessary both the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment (VTCAC) and the Sustainability Plan (VTCAC&SP).

During Academic Year 2012-2013 the E&SC conducted a detailed review of the VTCAC and developed a proposed revision. Using the university governance system, the University Council approved the revision on May 6, 2013. Former Virginia Tech President Steger approved the revision on May 9, 2013 (Presidential Policy Memorandum Number 262, Revision 1).

Virginia Tech is a charter member of the AASHE STARS Program, and has received STARS Silver Ratings on August 2, 2011 (Version 1.1 - 61.97 points) and March 19, 2013 (Version 1.2 - 63.30 points). During the review process for the VTCAC the E&SC determined that the STARS Program should form the basis of our future Sustainability Plan and that any unique sustainability initiatives at Virginia Tech should be added to the basic STARS Program. In effect, our future Sustainability Plan would be “STARS Plus”, that is STARS plus whatever is unique to our university.

During Academic Year 2013-2014 the E&SC conducted a complete review of all of the STARS Version 1.2 credits and a comparison of the VTCAC&SP. The intent was to identify actions and measures, and targets and goals unique to the university and not covered in STARS. The outcome of that process was the draft “Virginia Tech Sustainability Plan: 2014 Update and Supplement to the 2009 VTCAC&SP.” At this time we are in the process of advancing this draft to the Commission on University Support for review and approval during the 2014 fall semester.

A brief description of how progress in meeting the plan’s goals is measured:

On June 1, 2009 the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors unanimously approved the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment (VTCAC). Point #5 created the Office of Energy and Sustainability (OES) which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the actions and measures (targets and goals) in the Sustainability Plan (VTCAC&SP).

In 2009 OES created the VTCAC&SP “Status Report” which tracked the progress of over 80 actions and measures identified in the “Immediate Phase (2009-2012)” of the Sustainability Plan. By the end of Academic Year 2012-2013 nearly 90 % of the actions and measures where completed and ongoing, or were in the process of being completed.

OES is also responsible for submitting a sustainability annual report. Progress on meeting measureable goals are contained in each of the past four annual reports (2010-2013).
See: http://www.facilities.vt.edu/sustainability/annualRpts.asp

The website URL where more information about the sustainability plan is available:
The year the plan was developed or last updated:

Developed 2009. Draft update prepared by the Energy & Sustainability Committee during Academic Year 2013-2014 and it is currently under review by the Commission on University Support who is the approving authority. The Committee and Commission are part of the university governance system.

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.