Goal 3

Implement sustainable practices in campus operations and services that steward the natural world and support human well-being.

University of Richmond has a long tradition of sustainability in operations and services. Among the campus's beautiful green spaces and Collegiate Gothic architecture are 14 LEED-certified buildings. Rethink Waste has forced us to reconsider procurement and materials management decisions in order to achieve 75% waste diversion. The 205-kW solar array on the Weinstein Center for Recreation was the first constructed in Virginia under a pilot program and serves as a site for applied learning in renewable energy. This plan builds upon these demonstrations of stewardship to promote practices that increase operational efficiency while reducing stress on climate, food, and water systems. This will require for innovations in the design, maintenance, and management of our campus, creating valuable opportunities for collaboration with teaching and learning in a real-world context.

The Sustainability Plan value of gratitude is informed by the work of the many campus leaders whose legacy efforts have laid a strong foundation of sustainable operations and services. We draw inspiration from them as we strive for new ways of being and doing that steward our environment and support the well-being of our campus and community.

Strategies & Actions

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  • Strategy 3.1 Implement resource-efficient and environmentally responsible design, construction, and operation practices in all campus building projects.

    3.1.1 Provide energy and water metering on all building systems to track performance and report usage data.

    3.1.2 Maintain a third-party green building rating system standard for new buildings (equivalent to LEED Silver equivalent or better) for all new buildings and major renovations.

    3.1.3 Perform a cost-benefit analysis on the adoption of a third-party green building rating system for existing building renovations.

    3.1.4 Explore the feasibility of constructing a net-zero energy building, which generates 100% of its energy on-site.

  • Strategy 3.2 Update the 2010 Climate Action Plan with greenhouse gas reduction strategies that accelerate the achievement of carbon neutrality.

    3.2.1 Match 100% of UR’s electricity usage with procurement from renewable sources by 2021.

    3.2.2 Conduct a solar feasibility study of campus and UR-owned properties to assess the potential to increase renewable energy production, including site selection, availability of energy, equipment specification, financial analysis, and risk assessment.

    3.2.3 Implement and publicize energy policies that improve outdoor air quality and minimize pollutants from stationary and mobile sources.

    3.2.4 Investigate best practices in carbon offsets and carbon sequestration, including utilization of University-owned lands.

    3.2.5 Explore an internal carbon accounting model that would establish baseline measures and encourage building and department-specific reduction targets.

  • Strategy 3.3 Reduce energy use intensity (energy per square foot per year) 40% below 2009 levels by 2025.

    3.3.1 Implement an energy conservation management plan to identify, prioritize, implement, and track energy reduction and efficiency opportunities.

    3.3.2 Establish an energy management system to guide and monitor energy usage and energy use intensity on campus.

  • Strategy 3.4 Identify opportunities to increase procurement of sustainable food at the capacity needed for consistent, high quality meals.

    3.4.1 In partnership with Dining Services, establish a food system working group comprising students, staff, and faculty to benchmark best practices in sustainable food procurement, increase collaboration across stakeholder groups, and publicize green dining efforts.

    3.4.2 Track and assess sustainable food purchases annually based on the STARS and Real Food criteria (including local, community-based, organic, ecologically sound, humane, and fair).

    3.4.3 Using STARS and Real Food criteria as a guide, establish UR-specific sustainable food procurement targets by 2020.

    3.4.4 Implement a sustainable food plan aimed at achieving UR-specific sustainable food procurement targets by 2021.

    3.4.5 Explore sustainable procurement guidelines for catering and off-campus food vendors.

  • Strategy 3.5 Reduce food waste to the landfill by 50% by 2025.

    3.5.1 Research best practices in food recovery, establish internal processes for both recovery and reuse, and develop partnerships to streamline and increase capacity for food donations.

    3.5.2 Pilot back-of-the-house food composting collection in Retail Dining by 2020.

    3.5.3 Compost all back-of-the-house and post-consumer food waste by 2025.

  • 3.6 Develop innovative funding mechanisms to support sustainable practices on campus.

    3.6.1 Revisit the proposal and selection process of green revolving fund projects to accelerate implementation of strategies that reduce the University’s environmental impact, provide a long-term economic return, and promote education and engagement of campus stakeholders.

    3.6.2 Explore development of a green fund that provides small, competitive grants for the campus community to develop sustainability solutions.

    3.6.3 Investigate the feasibility of adopting a revenue-neutral carbon charge on campus.

  • 3.7 Enhance the University’s ability to engage with the campus community on issues of responsible investing.

    3.7.1 In partnership with Spider Management, explore the development of a committee on responsible investing aimed at increasing understanding of institutional investments and providing input on matters of importance to students, faculty, and staff.

    3.7.2 Collaborate with other universities who have established responsible investment committees to benchmark best practices.

  • 3.8 Increase the amount of environmentally and socially preferable purchases as a percentage of total goods purchased.

    3.8.1 Explore the feasibility of setting internal sustainable purchasing standards and identifying how to implement data tracking measures.

    3.8.2 Formalize and publicize sustainable procurement policies on purchased goods, including electronics (e.g., EPEAT), appliances (e.g., Energy Star), paper goods (e.g., Forest Stewardship Council), cleaning supplies (e.g., Green Seal).

    3.8.3 Identify professional development opportunities in sustainable purchasing for Procurement personnel.

    3.8.4 Research sustainable purchasing standards and available training for personnel who purchase goods on campus.

    3.8.5 Examine best practices of total cost of ownership and total life-cycle cost implementation in purchasing and decision making.

  • 3.9 Research and implement sustainability procurement standards for vendors.

    3.9.1 Reinforce prioritization for working with women- and minority-owned enterprises.

    3.9.2 Identify a process to certify that all Richmond trademarked apparel is produced under fair labor conditions.

    3.9.3 Develop environmental standards and practice guidelines for major business partners.

  • 3.10 Design and maintain campus landscapes in a manner that supports ecological health, advances student learning, and promotes recreation.

    3.10.1 Develop and implement a Sustainable Landscape Management Plan following guidelines from the Sustainable SITES initiative.

    3.10.2 Alongside partners in Biology and Environmental Studies, generate UR biodiversity management and invasive species management plans for the Gambles Mill Eco-Corridor, Westhampton Lake, Westhampton Green, and other open spaces on campus.

    3.10.3 Conduct an assessment to identify endangered or vulnerable species, environmentally sensitive areas on University land.

    3.10.4 Explore the development and use of outdoor spaces on campus and along the James River to support education, wellness, recreation, and research, including open-air classrooms, gathering spaces, and field sites.

    3.10.5 Research the appropriateness and availability of using battery-powered landscape equipment on campus.

  • 3.11 Manage campus lands to steward the James River watershed, increase water capture, and reduce stormwater impacts.

    3.11.1 Create a watershed management plan centered on restoring the ecological function, aesthetic beauty, educational capacity, and recreational function of Westhampton Lake, and implement best management practices to increase groundwater recharge and reduce nutrient and sediment flow to the James River.

    3.11.2 Explore use of Westhampton Lake as a source of on-campus irrigation.

    3.11.3 Restore Little Westham Creek and implement best management practices to improve stormwater management in the Eco-Corridor.

    3.11.4 Increase use of low-water landscape features and install rain catchment systems and cisterns in areas where irrigation is desired.

    3.11.5 Assess the ratio of hardscape (paved, wood, or stone surfaces) to softscape (living objects in the landscape) to inform need for permeable paving surfaces.

  • 3.12 Reduce potable water usage 50% below 2010 levels by 2025.

    3.12.1 Investigate and utilize on-site technologies for water reclamation and reuse for utility and landscape purposes.

    3.12.2 Sub-meter water usage in each building, set reduction targets based on established baseline, and implement efficiency and reduction strategies.

  • 3.13 Reduce carbon emissions related to transportation and mobility.
  • 3.14 Improve campus connectivity with the greater Richmond region.

    3.14.1 Build community and agency partnerships to make the roadways surrounding campus safer for biking and walking in alignment with the City of Richmond’s Complete Streets Policy.

    3.14.2 Explore the opportunity to expand the Green Bike program and connect with City of Richmond on potential partnership regarding bicycles, scooters, and other personal transportation options.

    3.14.3 Increase the number of sidewalks, bike lanes, and car-free areas to promote a more pedestrian friendly campus as described in the 2011 Campus Master Plan.

    3.14.4 Pursue certification in the League of American Cyclists Bicycle Friendly University program.

  • 3.15 Divert 75% of materials from the landfill by 2025.

    3.15.1 Achieve Rethink Waste rollout (co-location of bins; standardized signage, bins, and bag colors) across campus by 2020.

    3.15.2 Implement a pre- and post-consumer composting program on campus.

    3.15.3 Explore the feasibility of a materials sort center on or near campus.

    3.15.4 Provide in-person and online Rethink Waste training for all students, staff, and faculty.

  • 3.16 Reduce gross waste totals by 15% by 2025.

    3.16.1 Research and adopt processes that consider the end of product life in purchasing decisions, including questions of avoidance, reduction, reuse, and recycling.

    3.16.2 Implement and promote reuse strategies across campus and develop measures to minimize prevalence of single-use disposable items.

    3.16.3 Develop internal systems and external partnerships to improve capacity for capture of usable goods, including creation of a space for students, faculty, and staff to exchange, donate, and purchase items that would otherwise go to the landfill.