Optimizing efficiency and promoting conservation in buildings and throughout operations is essential in meeting U.Va.’s quantitative and qualitative sustainability goals. The energy needed to power and condition buildings contributes to 85% of the University’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Lifecycle impacts stemming from the manufacture, transport, and disposal of construction materials are known to be significant, but have yet to be fully tallied.  The past decade has seen remarkable growth in the University’s built environment. Measuring by square footage of buildings, the University is now over 30% larger than it was just ten years ago.

 Several programs and initiatives focus on sustainable buildings and operations:






  New Construction and Major Renovations

U.Va. has Facilities Design Guidelines, which incorporate sustainability requirements, as well as Guidelines for Sustainable Buildings and Environmental Design.  LEED certification is required for all new construction and major renovations.  U.Va currently has 28 LEED certified projects.

Read more about LEED at U.Va.

  Existing Buildings

U.Va. has signed onto the Better Buildings Challenge, to reduce energy use by 20% below 2010 levels by 2020. One strategy towards meeting this energy goal is the Delta Force program, a cross-functional team-based approach to retro-commissioning existing buildings with a focus on energy and water conservation.  Each building’s Delta Force Team includes members of the Office for Sustainability, the building optimization team, area maintenance staff, the building coordinator, and external support professionals with expertise in commissioning and HVAC system testing and balancing.  Since fiscal year 2007-08, almost $6.4 million has been invested in the Delta Force retro-commissioning initiative. With an avoided cost to date of nearly $15.3 million, the simple return on investment is 2.4 : 1 since the program’s inception. 

Read about U.Va.’s Delta Force program

 Custodial staff member at Bavaro Hall Green Cleaning

U.Va. recently became the first university in Virginia and only the third in the United States to achieve Green Seal GS-42 certification.  Learn more about U.Va.’s green cleaning program on the Environmental Hygiene Services website.

  Grounds Maintenance   

U.Va. prioritizes use of native, adapted, low-maintenance, and non-invasive plant species in landscape design and replacement. Irrigation is not standard practice at U.Va. and nearly all landscapes are designed using xeriscaping techniques with specification of drought tolerant plants. All pest management, with the exception of Athletics and Intramural Recreation fields, is directed by U.Va.’s Plant Healthcare Specialist. Grounds are maintained in accordance with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies that adhere to the four-tiered approach. The Plant Healthcare specialist is responsible for setting action thresholds and will recommend plant replacement in situations where plant material is likely to attract pests. When controls are used, biological controls, such as the use of nematodes, are prioritized.