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Report Card 2011

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Virginia Commonwealth University
College Sustainability Report Card 2011

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Courtesy of Virginia Commonwealth University

School details:

  Grade higher than last year


Endowment: $253 million as of June 30, 2009

Location: Richmond, Virginia


Campus Survey: Yes (see response)

Dining Survey: Yes (see response)

Endowment Survey: Yes (see response)

Student Survey: Yes (see response)


Please note: Data was collected in summer 2010 and may no longer be current.


Data compiled from survey responses, when available, and from independent research, when needed. For more information on data collection and evaluation, please see the  Methodology section.

Overall grade  
A -
The VCU Sustainability Committee, three staff in the Office of Sustainability, and more than 15 other staff contribute time to advancing sustainability initiatives on campus. The university is committed to environmental stewardship through a sustainability statement. Cost savings from energy efficiency projects support a revolving loan fund, and the university has an Energy Star purchasing policy.
The university aims to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2008 levels by 2025 and ultimately aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Many energy efficiency technologies have been installed on campus, including high-efficiency lighting and steam trap systems. Departments are given financial incentives to conserve energy, and renewable energy credits are purchased to offset energy use in three buildings.
Dining services spends 16 percent of its food budget on local and organic products. Almost all dairy and milk served on campus is hormone and antibiotic free; most seafood is sustainably harvested; and fair trade coffee and chocolate are also purchased. All dining facilities are trayless, and the university runs a reuse program for surplus furniture, appliances, and clothing.
All new construction projects that exceed 5,000 square feet must meet or surpass LEED Silver certification criteria. There are 11 buildings on campus that meet LEED standards, comprising 14 percent of campus building square footage. Water-saving technologies installed on campus include low-flow showers, dual-flush toilets, and waterless urinals.
The student government and Green Unity 4 VCU student group successfully advocated for a green roof on campus in addition to implementing water and waste reduction campaigns. The Office of Sustainability employs four student interns, and new student orientation features sustainable living presentations by resident assistants.
Full-time students are provided free access to public transit, and employees who carpool receive preferential parking. The university sponsors a car-sharing program, and over 50 percent of students commute to campus via environmentally preferable means.
The university makes a list of all holdings available to the public online. The university does not make the shareholder voting record of its commingled funds public.
The university aims to optimize investment returns and is exploring endowment investment in renewable energy funds, community development loan funds, and on-campus energy and water efficiency projects. The university offers employees who invest in a retirement annuity plan the option of choosing a fund that considers environmental factors.
The university is unable to vote proxies, as the entire endowment is invested in mutual funds or other commingled investment vehicles.
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