Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 73.17
Liaison Emily Vollmer
Submission Date May 16, 2024

STARS v2.2

Virginia Tech
EN-7: Employee Educators Program

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.69 / 3.00 Emily Vollmer
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total number of employees:

Total number of employees served by a peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education program:

Percentage of employees served by a peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education program:

Name of the employee educators program (1st program):
Green Office Certification

A brief description of the employee educators program (1st program):
The Green Office Certification Program is designed to give university employees the tools they need to create a greener working space on campus. The program integrates many of VT's campus sustainability initiatives, including transportation, purchasing, waste, and energy. The goal of this program is to help employees reduce their footprint and affect the overall wellbeing of the planet. The program focuses on office spaces around campus, which is defined as a group of individuals who share a common space such as kitchens, cubicles, copy rooms, mail rooms, or break rooms. An office can be a whole department, or sub-group of a department. It is up to employees to self-identify as their office's 'Green Representative". Once an employee is interested in becoming a Green Representative, they receive training materials via email from the Virginia Tech Sustainability Coordinator. These materials include information on what a "green office certification" is, a training powerpoint on how to be a Green Office Representative, and the checksheet that they will use to complete their certification, which has built in tips and notes on how to earn more points. Once the Green Representative finishes going through all of the training materials, they then take the certification checksheet back to their offices and enlist fellow employees to assist in completing the tasks.

The Certification consists of seven main areas: Office, Energy, Transportation, Events and Meetings, Purchasing, Recycling and Waste Reduction, and a bonus Innovation category.

After each Green Representative and their accompanying office members complete the checklist, the Sustainability Coordinator will collect the form and award the office with their certificate.

Participating in the Green Office Certification program and becoming a green representative puts employees on an email list where they will receive periodic emails giving them helpful tips to make their spaces green, updates on sustainability at Virginia Tech, and remind them to renew their certification or pursue a higher level of certification when up for review year to year.

Since 2014, 24 offices have been certified under the Green Office Certification program. In 2016, the GOC program was temporarily put on hold to undergo changes and updates; including redesign of the certification form, a new logo, and new training guidelines and procedures. The program officially re-launched on November 30th, 2017. The program is also expanding to include student and graduate student office spaces in campus buildings. In the summer of 2020 the program was revised and updated again to make greater use of technology and to better accommodate the new way of doing things as COVID has changed what our work spaces look like.

An article was released in the VT News in September 2020 announcing the relaunch of the Green Office Certification program for the Fall: https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2020/09/sustainability-greenoffice.html

Additionally, an article was released that showcases 10 reasons why you should consider pursuing Green Office Certification: https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2020/10/sustainability-greenoffice10.html

In the Fall of 2020, two offices completed their certification at the Silver level. As of November 2020, there are currently 32 Green Representatives seeking certification for their offices. These representatives are from all over the university, including the Women's Center, Dining Services, Environmental Health and Safety, Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and many other departments.

This program was integrated into a partnership with a Leadership and Entrepreneurship class in the Pamplin College of Business in Fall of 2020. The Office of Sustainability worked with students in the class to develop marketing pitches, recruitment materials, and training materials to use for the Green Office Certification program. They were able to recruit potential Green Representatives from multiple departments around campus and even created training videos which have been featured on our website. The partnership between the Office of Sustainability and this class will be continued into Spring 2021 based off the success of this Fall semester.

In January 2021, an office received the first Gold level certification. More information on their work can be found in this article: https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2021/01/tbmh-graduate-program-office-earns-gold-certification-for-sustai.html?utm_source=cmpgn_news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vtUnirelNewsDailyCMP_012021-fs

In the last few years, we've added 7 more offices to the list of certified offices for a total of 40 more employees trained by their peers.

A brief description of the employee educators program’s target audience (1st program):
The audience of this program includes all faculty/staff on Virginia Tech's campus. The program will utilize a growing network of Green Office Representatives who will be the sustainability champion in their respective department or office. These representatives will engage co-workers in scheduled meetings, post sustainability educational signs around the office, and email co-workers prepared outreach materials (for example: eco-friendly office supplies, zero waste guide, carbon footprint calculators, and VT recycling data). The Gold certification level asks participants to encourage a different office to participate in order to engage more faculty/staff through personal connections between offices that are already present.

Number of trained employee educators (1st program):

Number of weeks the employee educators program is active annually (1st program):

Average or expected number of hours worked weekly per trained employee educator (1st program):

Total number of hours worked annually by trained employee educators (1st program):

Website URL where information about the employee educators program is available (1st program) :
Name of the employee educators program (2nd program):
The Climate Action Commitment Roadshow Series

A brief description of the employee educators program (2nd program):
Climate Action Commitment Roadshow Series

Project Overview:
Virginia Tech recently approved a revised version of the Climate Action Commitment. To educate the campus community about it, our Climate Action, Sustainability, and Energy (CASE) Office went on a "roadshow" presenting the Climate Action Commitment to key groups and stakeholders who play a role in its implementation and success.
In these presentations, we not only educated them on what the goals of the Climate Action Commitment are, but also made connections between the CAC and their areas of work. We acknowledged the work that they've already done to promote sustainability and cooperatively developed opportunities for partnership and growth. These roadshows were also a great opportunity to get feedback on the work we've been doing thus far and ways for our office to improve.
Throughout the process, we were able to create a network of sustainability champions from nearly every department (both academic and non-academic) across campus. We now have contacts that can support us in future program development and who we can support as well.

Employee Peer Educators:
Sustainability Office and support staff (8), Finance and Administration (1), Communications and Marketing (3)

Approved initially in 2009 by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment serves as the university’s guiding framework around sustainability and energy efficiency in campus operations, facilities, curriculum, and research.
Following student advocacy, President Tim Sands called for its renewal and revision in 2019 (http://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2019/11/president-climate-commitment.html) to ensure the most stringent climate and sustainability standards are implemented as Virginia Tech continues to grow and seeks to be a leader in environmental stewardship. The 2020 Climate Action Commitment builds upon a decade of university sustainability as well as global efforts to raise institutional consciousness around the threat of climate change. (http://vt.edu/sustainability/background/sustainabilityachievements.html).
The 2020 Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment was approved (http://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2021/03/campusplanning-vtcac2020.html) by the Board of Visitors in March 2021 after a highly collaborative revision process (http://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2020/05/svpcbo-VTCACEngagementStory.html). The revision process brought together a network of over 120 students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members from across the university and surrounding area. Twelve subcommittees met weekly to formulate recommendations that were then presented to large scale campus convenings which were attended by nearly 200 stakeholders.
The 2020 Climate Action Commitment (http://svpcbo.vt.edu/content/dam/svpoa_vt_edu/vtcac/VT%202020%20Climate%20Action%20Committee%20Executive%20Report-FIN-111020.pdf) includes 15 goals for advancing long-term university sustainability over the next five to ten years. Among the recommendations are:
Aim to achieve carbon neutrality, 100 percent renewable electricity, and zero campus waste status by 2030.
Strive to improve the efficiency of campus energy systems by completing the total conversion of steam plant fuel to natural gas by 2025 and plan for a full transition to renewable steam plant fuel after 2025.
Integrate sustainability more deeply into the university’s academic mission. Fostering the next generation of sustainability leaders, this will be achieved through enhanced curriculum-building and implementation of a new Climate Action Living Laboratory, where students can gain hands-on experience in areas like green energy production and integration of green infrastructure in campus buildings.
Establish climate justice as a core value of the Climate Action Commitment through multiple strategies, including establishing a Climate Justice Subcommittee of the revised Climate Action, Sustainability, and Energy Committee by 2021 to more deliberately integrate student, employee, and community member voices in sustainability implementation efforts.
Commit ongoing support, outreach, and educational programming to communities adversely affected by climate action implementation plans, including coalfield communities, to assist these groups in mitigating and adapting to climate change and thriving in the new energy economy.
The actualization of these goals depends on comprehensive planning, unparalleled collaboration, and a shared pledge to advancing sustainability. To encourage this planning, collaboration, and shared commitment to making Virginia Tech a leader in sustainability, the Virginia Tech Climate Action, Sustainability, and Energy (CASE) Office held a series of roadshow presentations to various departments, units, and offices at every level across campus during the 2021-22 academic year.

Project Goals:
The goals of the Climate Action Commitment Roadshow Series are as follows:
Educate the members of our campus community whose work either directly or indirectly relates back to the Climate Action Commitment and will be an important component of meeting our Climate Action Commitment goals.
Build partnerships with campus community members who all play a role in the implementation of our Climate Action Commitment so that we can create a network of individuals who are committed to helping Virginia Tech reach its ambitious goals.
Create plans for implementation and continued partnerships to better delegate the work that needs to be done for Climate Action Commitment implementation. Have conversations where we can develop next steps for short term accomplishments and progress while also looking ahead to long term programs and opportunities for collaboration.
Acknowledge the work that’s already being done across campus while also identifying areas for collaboration and opportunities for growth.
Excite the campus community about sustainability and the Climate Action Commitment. Create a shared vision for what a sustainable Virginia Tech can look like and how each department fits into that vision and plays a role in it.

Project Implementation:
The Climate Action, Sustainability, and Energy (CASE) Office worked to develop a presentation that could serve as the baseline for our roadshow series, which offers background information on sustainability at Virginia Tech by simplifying the 250 page Climate Action Commitment into easy-to-understand segments. For the presentation itself, we created modular slides that could be catered to each group’s interest and background. Those catered slides highlighted the most important goals to that group and the work that they do, looked at past successes in their work area, and laid out some potential opportunities for collaboration and future programs that could help Virginia Tech reach its Climate Action Commitment goals.
Once we had the baseline presentation developed, we examined different departments and offices around campus and created a list of who we felt were going to be key players in the implementation process. We began working with them to get added to their agendas for regularly scheduled meetings rather than setting up separate meetings that would pull them away from their work. We targeted weekly team meetings, council meetings, or briefings.
Once we had meetings scheduled, we would hold dry runs with our team to prepare for each roadshow presentation. We worked with our Communications Team to ensure our slides had a cohesive look and that our messaging was consistent. We also brought in the Director of Budget Operations who has been a sustainability champion for us throughout this process to discuss innovative financing options that were catered to each group that we would be presenting to.
At each roadshow, we’d open with introductions, making sure everyone understood the roles of everyone presenting (the presenting group typically consisted of members of the Office of Sustainability, the Office of Energy Management, the AVP for Utilities, the Director of Budget Operations, and a Graduate Student). Then, our catered presentation would be given (anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on the department’s meeting agenda). That would then be followed by 10-25 minutes of discussion and Q&A.
Follow up communications were sent out on an ad hoc basis.

Project Timeline:
2019-2020: Climate Action Commitment revision underway.
March 2021: Climate Action Commitment approved by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
Summer 2021: CASE group met weekly to focus on implementation strategies. During these meetings, the idea of the roadshow was developed. Worked with communications team to develop marketing concepts and consistent language for how we presented information about the CAC.
Fall 2021: Developed baseline presentation for the roadshows. Began reaching out to stakeholder groups and departments to schedule roadshows. Began holding roadshows.
Fall Faculty Retreat - 9/17/2021
Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer & Team - 11/1/2021
Spring 2022: Continued reaching out to stakeholder groups and departments to schedule roadshows. Continued holding roadshows.
Student Affairs Leadership - 2/23/2022
Faculty Meeting (Follow-Up) - 2/25/2022
Vice President for Equity and Accessibility - 3/2/2022
Enterprise Administrative and Business Services Leadership - 3/22/2022
Undergraduate Student Senate - 3/29/2022
Faculty Senate - 4/8/2022
Graduate and Professional Student Senate - 4/14/2022
University Council - 5/2/2022
Summer 2022: Continued reaching out to stakeholder groups and departments to schedule roadshows. Continued holding roadshows.
Facilities Operations - 5/16/2022
Campus Planning and Capital Financing - 5/18/2022
A/P Faculty Senate - 6/15/2022
VP for Advancement & Team - 7/11/2022
Admissions - 6/27/2023
Honors College students - 8/30/2023

Future Plans: There are even more groups we would like to present to over the next few months, including but not limited to: Staff Senate; Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity and Strategic Affairs; College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Vice President of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities; Athletics; Virginia Tech Foundation and Real Estate Management; President’s Council; IT; Human Resources; Finance; Policy and Governance; and multiple Student Organizations.

Project Results (or results to date):
Through this process, we have gained contacts in dozens of departments across campus who are now willing to serve as eager partners for collaboration on implementation efforts. Some of these contacts that we met through the roadshow process have already started projects working with CASE on CAC implementation. For example, Dr. Najla Mouchrek was one of the professors present at our Faculty Retreat Roadshow in September. Members of the Office of Sustainability met with her throughout the Fall semester to work together on an application for a grant to fund a research course during the Spring. Dr. Mouchrek was awarded the grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research and was able to use the funding to launch the Honors Culture of Sustainability Lab (http://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2022/04/honorscollege_culture_of_sustainability.html). This program serves as a space for undergraduate students to engage in interdisciplinary research exploring cultural and social aspects of sustainability. In this lab, students investigate environmental values and attitudes as well as psychological barriers to sustainable behavior among the Virginia Tech community. Their research over the course of the Spring semester was tied directly to Goal 12 of the Climate Action Commitment: "Diminish barriers to sustainable behaviors through institutional change, education, and social marketing." The findings from their research into barriers to sustainable behavior will be presented to the Energy and Sustainability Committee in the Fall so that targeted actions can be made and programs can be developed to diminish those barriers.

We have also created new ideas for programs that could help us target both broad and niche groups of students and employees to further our campus engagement efforts. Through our roadshows, we formed a partnership with the Virginia Tech Police Department and made ties between safety and sustainability. Discussions are underway for a potential project that would add sensors to the lighting across campus that would function as dimmers. The lights would be dim when no motion is detected, resulting in less energy consumption than if they were at full brightness all the time. When motion is detected by the sensors, the lights will increase in brightness. Having these sensors recording this data is helpful for safety because if there is ever a case where the police need to go back through and see if anyone was in an area at a specific time, they can use the sensor data to have exact times and locations of movement.

We were also able to educate more than 100 employees and 100 students who are serving in strategic positions that are key for change on our campus. This education was the main goal of the program and we are excited to see what all the groups that we presented to do with their new knowledge of Virginia Tech's Climate Action Commitment and how they can get involved.

This process proved to be a necessary step for the implementation of our Climate Action Commitment and has propelled our progress by opening new doors and forming valuable partnerships at every level of the university.

A brief description of the employee educators program’s target audience (2nd program):
The Virginia Tech community at large, but primarily faculty and staff in key roles to make change on campus.

Note about hours calculation below: 12 trained employees (derived from numbers given above), these employees work on education other employees on the CAC through informal means all year long, but through this program specifically it's closer to 25 active weeks depending on the number of roadshows given. Each week that contains a presentation includes 2 hours of updating the presentation to be specific to the target employees, 1 hour practicing, 1 hour giving the presentation and having a conversation about the CAC with the group, and 1 hour following up with action items.

Number of trained employee educators (2nd program):

Number of weeks the employee educators program is active annually (2nd program):

Average or expected number of hours worked weekly per trained employee educator (2nd program):

Total number of hours worked annually by trained employee educators (2nd program):

Website URL where information about the employee educators program is available (2nd program):
A brief description of all other employee peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education programs:
Our Green Labs program really focuses on a peer to peer education model similar to our Green Office program. One employee within the lab takes the initiative to lead their lab's submission, but must teach their fellow staff members within the lab about the sustainability changes that need to be made. We have 42 labs participating in our green labs program with an average of 11 lab users per lab for a total of 315 employees receiving training on sustainable lab practices.

Number of trained employee educators (all other programs):

Number of weeks, on average, the employee educators programs are active annually (all other programs):

Average or expected number of hours worked weekly per trained employee educator (all other programs):

Total number of hours worked annually by trained employee educators (all other programs):

Grand total number of hours worked annually by trained employee educators (all programs):

Hours worked annually by trained employee sustainability educators per employee served by a peer-to-peer program:

Website URL where information about the employee sustainability educators programs is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
Total number of employees served number comes from the 360 green office certified employees, 12 peer educators for the CAC roadshow plus the staff of the offices reached which includes 250 VT staff members who are now trained to educate others about the CAC. Plus Green Labs 462. Total = 1084

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.