Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 71.94
Liaison Dennis Cochrane
Submission Date Dec. 19, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Virginia Tech
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Dennis Cochrane
Sustainability Program Manager
Facilities Services, Office of Energy and Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

Virginia Tech faculty and staff have assisted the Town of Blacksburg with numerous local public policy initiatives to include: the completion of a community-wide inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, the development of the Blacksburg Climate Action Plan, the Solarize Blacksburg initiative, and the Blacksburg Bike Master Plan. See:

Town of Blacksburg Climate Action Plan: http://www.blacksburg.gov/home/showdocument?id=5773

Solarize Blacksburg:
https://www.communityhousingpartners.org/3363/solarize-blacksburg.html

Blacksburg Bike Master Plan:
http://www.blacksburg.gov/residents/getting-around/biking/bike-master-plan


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

Through language in the Appropriations Act, Virginia Tech has been asked by the Commonwealth to study how best to leverage the state’s investment with industry partnerships that result in the technological and scientific advancements needed to grow the state's agricultural and natural resource economy. Virginia’s agriculture industry is the largest in the Commonwealth and vital to our overall economic vitality.
Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development, under the leadership of Dr. John Provo, is completing the study. We will communicate our findings to the Commonwealth on November 1, 2017. We hope to find ways Virginia Tech can help the Commonwealth achieve the short and long terms goals of our report. Additionally and very much related, Virginia Tech has been asked by the Commonwealth to work with our sister land grant institution, Virginia State University, to study strategies to mitigate the Commonwealth's shortage of career and technical education teachers in the fields of agricultural education, technology education, and family and consumer sciences. The Commonwealth knows that unless we understand where shortages exist and invest in our human capital that teach in these areas, we will not be able to maximize the full potential of the Commonwealth’s agricultural and natural resource economy. Virginia Cooperative Extension, under the leadership of Dr. Ed Jones, and Deal Alan Grant of Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, are working together with our friends at Virginia State University to produce this joint study. We will communicate our findings to the Commonwealth on September 1, 2017. The budget language in the 2018-2019 Appropriations Act is below, and can be found in Chapter 836, Item 229, paragraphs E & F of the Budget Bill: https://budget.lis.virginia.gov/bill/2017/1/.
Virginia Tech has assisted the region (New River Valley) with an array of public policy initiatives including: dedicated faculty research assistance for the Regional Energy Plan, the Regional Housing Plan, and the Regional Livability Plan, all part of a Partnership for Sustainable Communities process called the NRV Livability Initiative. See: http://nrvlivability.org/
Virginia Tech is an active participant in the “Resilient Virginia Conference.” This annual conference brings together participants from local and national businesses, and representatives from higher education, state and local governments, and community organizations to:
Explore resiliency rationales for their organizations;
Learn resiliency processes applicable to the public and private sector;
Develop an understanding of resiliency priorities in different regions of the state;
Engage in networking with resiliency businesses, government representatives, and institutional and community organizations; and
Take away tools that can be used for resiliency planning in their own communities.

The 2017 Resilient Virginia Conference was held in Richmond, Virginia, August 1-2, and the theme was “Connecting Communities, Business, and Educators for Resilience Solutions.” Guest speakers included the Honorable Governor Terry McAuliffe and members of key leaders within his administration.

In collaboration with Virginia’s public institutions of higher education, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) hosted a conference in Richmond, Virginia, titled: “Partnering for Progress: Innovations and Efficiencies Making a Difference on October 19, 2017. Virginia Tech presented a poster titled "Energy Cost and Carbon Footprint Reduction Efforts at Virginia Tech" which can be found in the attachments.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

The University advocates for increased federal research funding on a variety of programs. Many of these programs have a sustainability component. For example:
The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which the University advocates for, includes money for renewable energy and environmental stewardship: https://nifa.usda.gov/program/agriculture-and-food-research-initiative-afri
Smith Lever – we advocate for, is our cooperative extension program. The program has many components some of which include raising awareness of composting and pasture management and environmental food science https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith%E2%80%93Lever_Act_of_1914
Grazing program: http://ext.vt.edu/agriculture/graze-300.html
Composting: http://ext.vt.edu/natural-resources/composting.html
The National Energy Technology Lab – the University advocates for funding for research on rare earth elements from coal. Rare earth elements are critical to clean energy technology development.
The University supports energy efficiency research programs at the Department of Energy.
The University supports transportation research dollars, and advocate for research on autonomous vehicles research which can reduce traffic, congestion, pollution. This Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) annual report gives some background. Fewer crashes, fewer cars sitting in traffic. https://issuu.com/vtti/docs/annual_report_2016_final
The University supports drone delivery research funding, which may be able to reduce the number of commercial vehicles on the roadway, thus reducing traffic, congestion and pollution. http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2016/09/ictas-maapprojectwing.html
Virginia Tech University Distinguished Professor Marc Edwards has testified in Congress on clean drinking water in Flint Michigan. http://www.vtmag.vt.edu/spring16/fighting-for-flint.html
The University advocate and receives funding for a Department of Energy manufacturing hub, which is leading the effort to reduce the energy costs associated with manufacturing.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

For many years, Virginia Tech was the recipient of funds from USAID that support teaching farmers in developing countries about sustainable agriculture practices. The program is called the Feed the Future Innovation Lab Program. While Virginia Tech no longer is the recipient of this innovation lab, the University continues to support the Feed the Future Innovation Lab program. https://feedthefuture.gov/lp/feed-future-innovation-labs
We hold one of them now on pest management, and used to have a second on sustainability in agriculture.


A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):
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A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):
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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:

Local level: Carol Davis, Sustainability Manager, Town of Blacksburg, (540) 558-0786, CDavis@blacksburg.gov

State level: Elizabeth G. Hooper, Director of State Government Relations, Office of the President, Virginia Tech-VPI & SU, 11 South 12th Street, Suite 302, Richmond, Virginia 23219, telephone (804)-786-1604 office, ehooper@vt.edu.

National and International levels: Christopher Yianilos, Executive Director Government Relations, telephone (571) 858-3005, chrisyianilos@vt.edu.

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