Introducing new initiatives and incorporating sustainability into existing practices, requires collaboration across the University. Sustainability at U.Va. is a network of individuals, departments, and schools, working together to advance sustainability.
Sustainability in the context of higher education takes so many forms that it is impossible to direct its pursuit to one person or office. Introducing new initiatives and incorporating sustainability into existing practices, requires collaboration across the University. Sustainability at U.Va. is a network of individuals, departments, and schools, working together to advance sustainability.
The University Committee on Sustainability serves as the umbrella organization for sustainability, charged with advising the senior U.Va. administration on, “all matters related to the overall quality, diligence, and progress of the University’s commitment to sustainability in the broad sense of environmental, economic, and social impacts, and their relationship to the future of the University.” Faculty, administrators, staff, and students participate on the Committee and its subcommittees.
In recent years, the University has established specialized positions and programs to accelerate progress towards sustainability in University operations. Following the advice of the 2006 U.Va. Sustainability Assessment, these programs are housed across the University in areas responsible for implementation. The largest of these programs is within the Energy and Utilities Department, which works to conserve energy and water, increase recycling and engage in sustainability outreach. The Department of Parking and Transportation houses the University’s Transportation Demand Management Program. The Office of the Architect incorporates sustainability into land use and transportation planning, building design, and historic preservation. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety oversees environmental permitting and reporting. ARAMARK, U.Va.’s food-service provider, and students, helped to create U.Va.’s Green Dining Program to implement sustainable dining practices.
Across Grounds, interested employees have stepped up to guide sustainability programs in their areas. Examples include the U.Va. Health System, School of Architecture, Human Resources, Procurement Services, U.Va. Library, Information Technology Services, Printing and Copying Services, U.Va. Bookstore, Facilities Planning and Construction, and U.Va. Housing.
Education and Research
The University plays an important role in sustainability, as the Grounds can provide numerous real-world lessons. The classic tools of learning – coursework, research, and student-faculty interactions – offer the greatest opportunity for the advancement of sustainability. Nearly 50% of U.Va. departments offered at least one course that incorporates aspects of sustainability. The Global Sustainability Minor offers undergraduates the opportunity to formally pursue multidisciplinary coursework in sustainability. In the School of Engineering, the Technology and the Environment minor takes a technical approach to sustainability suitable for engineering majors.
Numerous programs incorporate strong sustainability themes, including the interdisciplinary Environmental Thought and Practice major, degrees in Urban and Environmental Planning, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Global Development Studies, and Environmental Sciences. In addition, the Darden Graduate School of Business launched the Innovation for Sustainability MBA concentration in fall 2010.
Morven Farm, a 2,913 acre historic estate located 10 miles from Grounds, is home to a unique interdisciplinary teaching and research program with strong ties to sustainability. The Morven Summer Institute is an intensive four-week program designed for people with interests in sustainability, design, food systems, and ecology. The program is open to UVA undergraduate and graduate students, students enrolled at other colleges or universities, rising high school juniors and seniors, and community members.