Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.11
Liaison Elizabeth Malcolm
Submission Date Jan. 19, 2023

STARS v2.2

Virginia Wesleyan University
IN-50: Innovation D

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Elizabeth Malcolm
Director of Sustainability
Earth and Environmental Sciences
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Virginia Heat Watch

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

Virginia Wesleyan University was one of twelve institutions in the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges that are collaborating on “Virginia Heat Watch”, a project launched in 2021 to map and analyze heat islands in our communities. For the project, Virginia Wesleyan organized a citizen science effort to measure fine resolution temperature data across the city of Virginia Beach. Within the city, points of interest were identified to help ensure that sampling routes incorporated locations deemed likely to be significant and/or vulnerable. Thirty-two volunteers drove prescribed routes through their communities collecting data on the designated Heat Watch Day in summer 2021. VWU research students then used the heat maps, demographic data, and health data to identify neighborhoods most vulnerable to heat hazards. Results were presented to the local community, at the Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, and the Environment Virginia Symposium.

VWU students, faculty, the local non-profit Lynnhaven River Now, Tidewater Master Naturalists, and the Virginia Department of Forestry then planned a tree planting intervention in one of the high susceptibility neighborhoods. In January 2023 sixty-four native trees will be planted with the help of over 40 volunteers from VWU and the community. One of the planting sites is the future location of a Samaritan House shelter for teenage victims of human trafficking. “We are excited to receive this generous donation of trees that will provide shade and comfort to some of the most vulnerable we serve, young survivors of human trafficking,” said Robin Gauthier, Executive Director of Samaritan House. “Additionally, it is inspiring to have so many students and other members of the community come together to not only make our new shelter a refuge for healing, but will also help the environment,” said Gauthier.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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