Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 72.78
Liaison Dennis Cochrane
Submission Date Feb. 18, 2021

STARS v2.2

Virginia Tech
EN-5: Outreach Campaign

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Nathan King
Sustainability Manager
Facilities
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution held a sustainability-related outreach campaign during the previous three years that was directed at students and yielded measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability?:
Yes

Has the institution held a sustainability-related outreach campaign during the previous three years that was directed at employees and yielded measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability?:
Yes

Name of the campaign:
Y-Toss in Residence Halls

A brief description of the campaign:

Y-Toss is a student re-use program that is administered through a partnership with the YMCA. Traditionally, students would donate used items to PODS located outside in specific residence hall quads during move-out. These items were collected and then resold to students during move-in the following fall. Taylor Crawford, the student Program Leader for Y-Toss submitted a proposal for a "Y-Toss in Residence Halls" campaign that was funded in 2018 through Virginia Tech's Green RFP program. The outreach campaign was designed to increase waste diversion and awareness through collecting items within specific residence halls throughout the year. New collection bins were added (5 large bulk bins & 20 smaller bins) to the lobbies of residence halls. This included additional signage and marketing materials in the residence halls to educate students about the new expanded service. The year-round collection service was supplemented with a "Pop-up Thrift Shop" where those collected items could then be sold back to students at specific times throughout the year. This also helped increase access for students and visibility of the program.


A brief description of the measured positive impact(s) of the campaign:

The previous year's Y-Toss program resulted in diverting 6.2 tons of materials from the landfill through the outdoor PODS collection service. The new outreach campaign that included indoor residence hall collection bins and signage during 2018-19 resulted in a more than 3 tons increase in collected items (10.7 tons). It also increased student access to purchasing these items throughout the year with the "Pop-up Thrift Shop".


Name of the campaign (2nd campaign):
Climate Action Commitment Revision Campaign

A brief description of the campaign (2nd campaign):

In December 2019, the president of the university tasked the campus and newly formed Climate Action Commitment Working Group with revising the 10-year-old Climate Action Commitment. This resulted in 12 subcommittees being formed that engaged over 125 students, faculty, and staff on a weekly basis. The Engagement Subcommittee created a website, informational videos, surveys, and held zoom meetings during Earth Week 2020 to engage the rest of campus and local community. The topics of engagement were numerous: climate justice, buildings, energy, transportation, sustainable choices, etc and everyone was encouraged to participate. The information was widely distributed during Earth Week through campus news, emails, social media, and word of mouth leading up to the zoom meetings. All participants were able to submit ideas and feedback during and after the zoom meetings. This resulted in multiple excel spreadsheets of specific feedback on Climate Action Commitment goals and ideas from the campus community.


A brief description of the measured positive impact(s) of the campaign (2nd campaign):

The zoom meetings during Earth Week 2020 resulted in over 188 instances of written feedback and over 240 zoom participants. The results of the ideation session in each meeting and the exit surveys were tabulated and presented to each subcommittee for inclusion in their final draft report. The draft reports were presented to the administration in July 2020.

https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2019/12/unirel-climate-action.html

https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2020/08/svpcbo-VTCACstudents.html


A brief description of other sustainability-related outreach campaigns:

Re-usable to-go container outreach program was implemented by Dining Services in 2019-20 to increase the collection of their re-usable to-go containers at the end of the school year. This included increased signage in dining halls and increased collection bins that were more conveniently located.


Additional documentation to support the submission:

Lights Out Power Down:
Every year, Virginia Tech and the surrounding community participates in Lights Out Power Down. During a one-hour time period on an annual basis, the university reduces its campus electrical demand. This is part of a program called the Interruptible Load Reliability Energy Reduction Program. The program is part of Virginia Tech's agreement with PJM Interconnection, Virginia's regional electric transmission grid operator, and is managed by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy and administered by CPower.

As a large consumer of electricity in the region, Virginia Tech's participation helps mitigate the loss of power in the broader community during times of peak energy usage, such as hot, humid summer afternoons and early evenings. This program allows the university to test its ability to meet that demand should those conditions occur.
Essentially, Lights Out Power Down is our annual training run to practice for when we may be called to reduce our energy consumption by PJM.

Lights Out Power Down is a prime example of the university community's commitment to environmental stewardship in action. This program is an illustration of how Virginia Tech is making strides in reducing its environmental footprint and building sustainability awareness. The efforts are also a clear reflection of Virginia Tech's
Climate Action Commitment.

Virginia Tech has been participating in Lights Out Power Down for over 10 years now. In 2019, the university reduced its campus electrical demand to an average 20,500 kilowatts from a 28,450 kilowatts peak earlier in the day, almost an 8,000 kilowatt reduction. The demand goal for the 2019 event was 22,000 kilowatts for the hour, a reduction of only 5,200 kilowatts which we surpassed.

Since 2010, Virginia Tech has recieved more than $1.8 million by participating in the Interruptible Load Reliability Energy Reduction Program. Virginia Tech's participation helps prevents brown outs and power loss on high demand days.

Members of facilities are trained on how to respond when we are called to Power Down at the university. Additionally, managers speak to their employees about actions they can take to assist in power down, training them on how to be less energy demanding and therefore more sustainability. The entire university community participates in this event. Community members are asked to turn off lights, turn off personal computers, turn off shared electronics, unplug appliances, and turn off lab equipment that is not in use.

Throughout the day, Facilities Department employees canvass campus to encourage and assist building occupants to turn off unnecessary lights and equipment and power down. In addition, air conditioning levels in select, noncritical areas will be reduced. Those impacted will be notified prior to the event.

More information can be found at the following links:
https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2019/07/ops-lightsoutpowerdown19.html
https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2018/06/unirel_lightsout2018.html
https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2011/06/061411-facilities-powerdown.html

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